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Remake Volume 1 Prologue – From the Fall of 2016



This novel is translated by Flowingcloud from Yado Inn as a colaberation with Ebisu Translations. Please check out more of me and my group’s translations at Yado Inn! Support me through PaypalPatreon, or Ko-fi! Also, please turn off ad-block! Join Yado Inn’s Discord to join the community!

Translator: Flowingcloud    Editor: Sage Yomeiri    Proofreader: Matty


Iruma City, northern Saitama Prefecture. I was in the second floor of an apartment, about five minutes away from the nearest station. With a phone in hand, I’ve been talking non-stop to the person on the other end of the line for a good thirty minutes now.

“Well umm, as I said…there’s no point in asking me. I don’t know any more than you do. It’s not like I would know where he went- Eh? …The store? Usually, he’d be at the hostess club on Propeller Street, but right now he doesn’t have the cash for that…. His…family home? I think that was in…Toyama? No. Wait…. Ishikawa, maybe? I remember it was somewhere around there….”

A glance at the clock told me it was almost 2 PM.

“Yes, yes. I will inform you if I get any new info on his whereabouts. It’s not like I’m indebted to him or anything. I haven’t even received my salary from him for half a year now. I had to live at the office for three months because I got kicked out of my apartment for unpaid rent. …Sure, sure. Understood. Well then….”

With that, I set down the receiver in a clatter.

“Fuuu…”

Sighing, I called out to the person beside me.

“President, I ended the call.”

A few moments later, a voice called back; the living being under the table huddled inside a futon started to squirm out. [1]

“Wow, such a splendid performance from Hashiba-kun~! Thank you very much! Really, thank you!”

The plump old man who jumped out from underneath held his hand high and let a smile float across his entire face.

“Those men, there’s a rumor about them; used to be a gang of yankees. They’ve got menacing faces, and their eyes got this sharp, unwelcoming look to them. I honestly don’t do well with those sorts. Just recently, one of them told me they’d scoop out one of my eyeballs if I didn’t return the money.”

“President…”

Once again, I sighed, then rotated my stool halfway to face the president. Having to deal with a call from your client interrogating you about the schedule delays…it’s no easy chore. And the go-to guy for it is me. Makes me want to sigh some more.

“Why don’t you just talk it out with them like adults? Even if you flee from place to place, there’s no chance you’ll-”

“I get it! I get it, Hashiba-kun! As it stands, the only boring end I’ll be reaching is getting tossed into Tokyo Bay, tied down to a large rock and my 50 million debt!”

“If that’s the case-”

“But please believe me! If this in-progress manga turns out well, there’ll be 30 million waiting on the other side for me! But before that, we can’t let them discover it, or my plans will be reduced to nothing!”

“Haa.”

I work at a game company, and the president over here is the president of said game company. So…why exactly is he talking about a manga? In any case, he was influenced in doing it, without a doubt….

“This project is amazing! The first of its kind; launching both on paper and on digital devices! The same work can be read freely from either your smartphone or your PC! And adding on to all that, the author is a veteran in his craft, having writing experience from the popular Shonen Zamp!” [2]

He pulled out a tablet and started to display the website for me to see, despite me not asking. It wasn’t a website I was used to seeing. No matter what angle or setting you try to view it, its design was clearly antiquated. This is a layout you’d only see from 10– no, 20 years ago.

“President, is this website monetized?”

“Monetized? What’s that?”

He looked to be greatly perplexed.

“…The affiliated publisher, who is it?”

“None. It doesn’t have one.”

“Are you going to sell it by volume? How are you going to earn any revenue?” [3]

“Using that membership fee system. Oh, we don’t need to charge them immediately!”

We’re going to be met with a lot of backlash if we left the subscribers in the dark about the fee. Once they find out, we’d either have a flood of complaints or mass unsubscription. …Does this guy seriously not see it happening?

“It’s reckless. If you don’t make it comply with current earning models–.”

“That sort of thing doesn’t matter! As long as the works themselves are worth a read, we’ll manage one way or another!”

“You won’t!” I slammed my fist against the desk!

The President shrieked. “Can you please stop that!? Violence doesn’t solve anything, you know..”

“So due to your reckless, gullible personality and inability to plan ahead, the decent employees of this company have all long quit, haven’t they? Correct me if I’m wrong.”

“Y-you didn’t really have to be so blunt….”

“But I have to say it! The key animator? The scenario writer? The lead programmer? Even those guys in accounting, who desperately tried salvaging the finances of this failing company, have all packed up! You had an entire team, but all of them jumped ship, right?”

“That is-! …You’re right. I lost everyone. Everyone…except for Hashiba-kun.”

“I was too late in resigning. In fact, I-”

“But thanks to you, ‘Pretty Ass! ~The Story of the Pretty Girl’s Ass~’ was released! You really saved me by a hair’s breadth, and mind you that wasn’t the only case you’ve saved me! So please, could you please lend me that power in this new business?”

“…Before that, there’s still a lot of things I need to do…”

Rotating the stool back around, I turned to face the LCD monitor.

There’s still a large amount of unread company emails that needed sifting through.

All of them were about the creator’s unpaid expenses or about the client not being able to get in contact with him.

“Anyways, stop chasing dreams already. It’s good to have ideas, but being a president means you have to be realistic about things. Do you understand?”

Haa, I breathed out another sigh.

“Well, since it’s come to this, as reluctant as I am, I will continue to follow you, president. So at the very least please take care of your debts and let’s focus on the next work….”

In the middle of my spiel, poof! As soon as I raised my line of vision, the president disappeared from sight.

“Wait, eh, P-President!?”

Even after looking over the not-so-spacious floor, I couldn’t find him.

“Where did he run off to…?”

I looked around for him for about two, three more times. On the third time,

“Kyaaaaa!! P-please forgive meeee.”

A surprised, pathetic sounding screaming echoed from outside the building.

Confused, I got up and looked out the window.

“You bastard! So this is where you fled, eh?! Tch, I thought there was no way in hell you’d be here, but here you are.”

There were two guys in black jerseys flanking the president on both sides, lifting him up from under his arms.

“No! That’s wrong! I wasn’t hiding! I was just pitying my employee! He came crying to me, so-!”

“Yea, yea. I hear ya, I hear ya. Now get in the car, all nice-like.”

“Nooo! Stooopp! I hate caaars~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~!!”

They shoved him along to the rear seat of the white station wagon with a metal bat. The door was quickly closed. Bang!

The car headed west, the gloomy sound of the engine growing distant, the president with them.

Soon, the shadow of the car disappeared. The smell of the exhaust vanished. The whole of the surroundings vanished, and yet I continued to gaze motionlessly at the place the car vanished to.

The sun started to fall down the horizon little by little.

“…….. Well, guess I’m really unemployed now…”

Kyouya Hashiba, 28 years old.

Born and raised in a provincial city at the western Nara Prefecture, I graduated from a local private college. I tried to get my dream job of being a game developer, but I couldn’t get a break. I ended up being a car supplies salesman. I wasn’t satisfied, so I kept job hopping, never forgetting my dream. It was when I was working at a game shop in Akihabara that I got to know a certain game mater’s president. I managed to get in his good books and was invited by him to help make his vision a reality. At the age of 26, I ended up in the company as a director…of an eroge game company. [4]

However, the company…fell short of the president’s dream.

At the time, the president said he was absolutely getting a famous key animator on board, but after 5 minutes of the email sent to them, they rejected it. In the end the female key animator I knew during my shop clerk days came on after much pleading from me. She left after the president due to the president having done some rapid sexual advances to her. The famous writer that the president boasted he knew? On top of not responding to us, he uploaded “Shitty Rude Request Email Came wwww” onto his SNS. In the end we couldn’t get a writer. The plot? Written by the president. All of it was on the president for his delusional idea of the all-star “staff” coming together. The game development was met with a lot of heavy trouble because the president didn’t get the necessary resources for production. And because we started the production without any rehearsals, we missed the release date by half a year, postponing it for a whole year even at the end of it all. [5]>

That is often the case. It paints a very cruel picture of the eroge industry, but it’s true.

“Really…. What was up with that guy? That president….”

As people left, I had to pick up the slack. Without a key animator, I somehow managed to get some drawing done, learning from imitation. When the computer artist vanished, I managed to get the color in while wrestling with the animation software, somehow pulling off a PV. Voice recording, script writing, programming…whatever it was, I did it. [6]

Even with my sacrifice, the game ended up unfinished. That contracted program that the president touted about was full of holes. By the time of the fifth patch, the game was somewhat stable. However, no one took notice it anymore.

My impossibly hard work ended up with me having just 5,000 yen in my wallet. And that’s it; there’s nothing else.

Defeated, I bought a ticket to the last bus out to Nara and boarded.

The destination? My parents home.

In the end, the president never returned. In the end, my wages were never given to me. In the end, I was kicked out because I never could pay my rent. In the end, I was even evicted from the building the office was. Nothing else to do but throw in the towel and go back to my folks.

There was some hope; several people in the industry who contacted me to apologize for the fiasco, and invited me to go to them. If I wanted to, I could stay in that line of work.

However, I was already completely fed up with it.

Even if I would’ve enjoyed a job in the Eroge industry, the side of me sick of it all for working under that kind of guy even with my discerning eyes made me want to puke at the thought.

I just might be tired of it all, but I couldn’t think of anything else.

“Hmm? A notification…?

My smartphone in my pocket vibrated.

It was an incoming mail.

It was from Nico Douga. [7]

“Ah, the company live broadcast is going to start at 9.”

I was registered in a few Eroge maker communities, some of them were for my former work. Because of it, I’d be notified whenever a new program is released. This time’s live broadcast was for a major company in the industry: Saku Seed Soft.

Since it was nearly 9, I plugged in my earphones and tuned in.

“…A new Project Announcement? Now where is that…oh, here.”

Saku Seed Soft is a veteran in the industry, making large profits. They’re a super excellent maker that produces alternate software on 3 stable lines.

However, in exchange for stability, the creators and staff were almost the same people every time. So, they were criticized for products that have always been “Missing Fresh Flavor” even with their consistent sales.

However, this announcement was completely different.

“They’re making a completely new line? It can’t be….”

It seemed like the viewers who might be fans were shocked, so both excitement and wariness can be read from the comments. [8]

“Thank you for waiting! Well then, it’s the announcement of the new project!”

Saku Seed Soft’s bearded producer, a famous face in the industry, informed everyone with a smile. Then, the screen switch to a PV.

It was obvious that they sunk a lot of money into the PV. The one I created in a hurry couldn’t even be compared to a fraction of this.

“Eh!?”

In the scene where the noteworthy creator creditors flowed, I stood up without thinking.

In the late night bus, people looked at me, puzzled by what I just did.

Despite that, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the smartphone in my hands.

On the screen, the credits were displayed on a grand scale.

“Character Design: Shino Akishima”

“Scenario: Kyouichi Kawagoe”

“Theme Song: N@NA”

There were a lot of comments as if they were devoted to conceal that name.

“This has to be a lie…. As expected of Saku Seed Soft.”

I feebly mumbled that as I slunk down on my seat with a thud.

Shino Akishama. Illustrator. That girl was the same key animator who refused to join us back then. Additionally, she’s one of the best in the business with experience in TV anime character designs. Just the other day, I heard of her first solo exhibition. Admittingly, her art book was my my most prized possession.

Kyouichi Kawagoe. Light novel author. From his work “Bloody Sword of Sorrow” a mook he intended for light novel fans was at first place for 2 consecutive years, and garnered him this anime season’s second highest rating. Recently he’s been working on a literature novel for the general public, garnering high praise. [9]

N@NA. A singer-songwriter. Her popularity quickly soared after being discovered from her anime and Vocaloid songs on Nico Douga. Right now, she’s with a major label, releasing hit after hit. Tickets to her live have become sacred commodities; you’d easily spend 100,000 yen on auction sites for them.

I’m actually a fan of all three of them. Naturally, I got the complete collection of game goods where Shino Akishima was in charge of the key animation, read through every nook and corner of Kyouichi Kawagoe’s setting document collection, bought “Ai-bra” (the abbreviation of the light novel title) since the first volume. I’ve even (painfully) got a ticket to N@NA’s live, waving a glow stick until my arm cried for me to stop.

The crux of it is, these guys are the elites of creators.

The bearded producer appeared again, delightfully stating that there’s going to be an anime adaptation, serialization, AND novelization. All of this was going to be happening one after the other immediately after the game comes out.

Those three looked like they were going to line up and give everyone their greetings, but I decided to turn off the broadcast there.

“Haa….”

I sighed, the surprise overwhelming me.

In addition to them being the elites, those three creators actually shared one more thing.

Those three…they graduated from the same arts college at the same year.

Even back then in school, they stood out. They weren’t the only ones; back then there were many talented people that semester. The industry called it the “Platinum Era”.

“A game where the top runners of the Platinum Era are all present to make it…. It seems like a fantasy, really.”

Compared to what happened at my “former” company with the key animator ditching cause of sexual harassment…. The difference of it all just makes me want to laugh.

In the old days, I used to like games.

Back in elementary up to middle school I would immerse myself chatting with my friends about games. All of my pocket money back then went into games. One time I was deeply moved by a masterpiece of a game that I started writing down titles and game settings of my own personal ideas in my notebook. I decided then that I would definitely enter a game company in the future.

Dreams quickly faded in front of reality. I graduated from a regular college. I remember the time I failed the application test into a game company. Then again, I noticed that it wasn’t a job I really wanted to do.

That’s why when I was the director for an Eroge company, I was really happy.

Although it released just a few small titles, I was helping create the ‘game’ that I longed for.

That Eroge…. That eroge that I borrowed from a friend, keeping me up at night and moving me to tears. That eroge where I was so moved I bought the exquisite tapestry of the heroine with the money I made from part-time. That eroge that I bought which made us all suffer through freezing rain because it was raining on the release event. That eroge…it was my turn to create it.

That eroge…turned into a bad ending where I desperately tried to support an unreasonable president.

“But, I had…. I had no choice.”

It was a horrible way to end it all. However make no mistake, that president was a dreamer with a dream for games. For that reason alone, I had sympathy and desperately cooperated with him. Because I had that feeling, even when it came to the point that I was the only one left, I released that game out no matter what the odds were against me.

However, that dream ended too soon.

“To our valued passengers, the bus will be arriving at Shizuoka soon. The bus will stop for 10 minutes at the service area. I repeat….”

The announcement permeated through the bus. Fixing my clothes up, I prepared to head off to go to the toilet.

By now at the live, a showy interview was probably ongoing.

With those three creators speaking, various people all around would take notice, dreaming of the completion of that game. Most important of all, having high expectations for it.

And then there is me. There isn’t any sane person in the world who would stop and take notice of me taking care of business here at the service station.

These three people from the “Platinum Era” . They had 2 more common features.

All 3 of them were born in 1988.

──All three of them were at the same age as me.

As soon as I returned to my parents’ home, I was told to clean up my room.

It seemed my little sister Miyoko is staying here as well. She married back in Tokyo, but had a divorce, ending up a single mother. Ha…the older brother is unemployed, the younger sister is divorced and a single mom. Between the two of us, it was only full of ups and downs.

There wasn’t any way for me to refute being unemployed. I just reluctantly tidied up the room.

“Hmm? Was this always….? This….”

A cardboard box was crammed into the shelf. Looking inside, I took a glimpse back to my past.

A notebook was full of settings for my delusional game title. A sketchbook that was filled to the brim after 5 days when there was a time I believed some online thread saying ‘your drawing skills will be better when you draw everyday’. There were light novels and manga that I got addicted to too. All my treasures of my past.

However, of all the treasures of my past inside, one of the most important things that should be here, wasn’t.

“Hmm? Huh…. Where’d that thing go?”

I turned the box inside out. Nothing. Now, I was turning up the room inside out. Neither in the desk, gaps in the bookcase…it wasn’t there.

While I was full of unease, I felt the impromptu flashlight in my hand vibrating.

“Oh? A call? Hello?”

“Ah, Onii-chan? Sorry for having ya clean the room~, are ya good right now?” [10]

It was from my little sister Miyoko. She never did completely let go of her Kansai dialect, unlike me.

“I’m good. What’s up?”

“After ya were sorting out yer stuff, I noticed a thing of Onii-chan’s got mixed into mine ya see. I called thinkin’ that ya might be looking for that thing or somethin’.”

“Something of mine? What is it?”

“Ah yeah, it was an acceptance notice. Didn’t ya treasure that thing?”

“…Yeah. I was actually looking for it. You’re a lifesaver if you could come give it back to me.”

“It’s no biggie Onii-chan. Well then, later~.”

I ended the call. Relieved, I flopped onto bed, without even changing my clothes.

I stared up at the ceiling. That ceiling…it never changed since those high school days.

“That time…why did I even take that exam? I wonder….”

I at the time was just your average student with average grades. I applied for several colleges in the Kansai area, all completely average.

…I’m not sure why anymore, but at the time I applied for one more school. It was a completely different one in another region.

Oonaka Arts College, Film Department. Here in the college, talented people were as common as sheep. It’s the alma matter of that anime director everyone in the country knows, where that elite manga artist that drew Akai Honoo spent the first half of his life, and the mecca of aspiring game developers. It was here, I sent that one different application.

It was known as Oogei, full of eccentrics. An eccentric college where it’s normal for one-fifth of the students to drop out. This eccentric college…is where those three people I admired called their alma mater.

There were exams with storyboard and scenarios. I was greatly perplexed back then by the questionnaire. I took it half heartedly without thinking if I passed or failed. However…. “For some reason…I was accepted.”

Yes, that’s right. For some reason, I had made it.

At the time, I was really happy with myself. However even when I was accepted at the college I wanted the most, I never went in.

If I did enter…if I did become classmates with those 3….

“Ha ha, I have become nobody special.”

While it was reality that Oogei accepted me, it wasn’t decided that I would become an elite. The talks of then of “maybe if” or “perhaps”, those appeal to the me of today whose life has been worse than shit.

“…That’s right. If that were the case….”

Trying to imagine myself leading a life in Oogei along with them, those three that I have never met a single time.

Trying to imagine me discussing with them about making things, arguing, raging, crying, laughing.

Getting that drive off the things we’ve created as a team, going on as far as making something myself.

And then…and then….

At that point, I stopped my whimsical thoughts.

“So what of it…!”

The corners of my eyes got hot, and my vision started to blur.

The air quickly rushed through my nose, with each heavy breath.

“It’s already…too late.”

Everything ended 10 years ago on that day.

The result of whimsically chasing a dream half-heartedly, is my current self. The result of being picked up by a pathetic president of a pathetic company, is my current self.

I planned on bearing it all until the bitter end. However, I was powerless. To the key animator at the end who said they would persist even with the shitty conditions. To the artist who worked despite the shitty schedule. I was powerless. I couldn’t give them an answer at all.
me.

“Exactly what was my life….”

Putting on a self-tormenting smile, I gently closed my eyes.

If somehow, I returned, back to that time.

I remembered the time when I was taking exams.

At that time, my little sister wasn’t even in middle school yet. I was at the time excited to be taking college exams.

Every time, when a notification from a college was delivered, my little sister would gingerly snatch it from the mailbox to bring it to me. She was like my barometer; drooping her shoulders and be all mopey if it was a fail, and would be jumping up and down in joy with my fingers interlaced with hers if I passed.

I heard the sound of someone going up the stairs.

“Hm, did she come back?”

Because of that sound, I opened my eyes.

In order to check the time, at the moment I extended my arms to my smartphone-.

“Onii-chan!”

She opened the room’s door with a loud Bang!.

“What is it Miyoko? You surprised me… Wait, what’s up with those clothes?”

My 24 year old sister, single parent with a child, was for some reason standing in front of me in a sailor uniform.

“Eh? Well, it’s my uniform of course….”

My little sister answered with a ‘So what?’ kind of impression.

“No, not that… cosplaying?”

Did your previous husband have that sort of hobby?

I haven’t heard of that story.

“What kind of idiotic nonsense are ya sprouting?! Putting that aside; here!!”

Without caring much about my words at all, she thrust a thick envelope in front of me.

“Onii-chan, congratulations! Ya passed!!”

…………………… Eh?

No, you certainly said that you were going to bring the passing notification that got mixed up though.

You’re passing it over so extravagantly? Even with cosplay?

“But what you said over the phone-.”

While I said that, the hand that was looking for my smartphone stopped.

I had no smartphone.

Taking its place was cell phone from several generations ago.

The chaos in my head begin.

“Eh? Wait a moment!”

I looked around the room once again.

Across from the bed is a CRT TV. Next to it was a PS2 gaming console. [11]

There were only 7 volumes of Zero-Ma on the shelf when I know I got the complete set. Asterisk…Haganai as well…. Their figures nor shapes could be seen on the bookshelf. [12]

With my mind in panic mode, I rushed over to the calendar hanging on the wall.

“Onii-chan? Something wrong? Ya were yapping about before that ya’d be accepted at an arts college. Now…when ya actually passed…yer all acting iffy. Which reminds me, why’re ya suddenly talking all in standard Japanese?” [13]

Her voice…I couldn’t register it in my mind.

All of those perplexing things that jumped at me in rapid succession…. All of it led to the answer right in front of me. Here, on the calendar….

“…It’s the year 2006….”

Footnotes:
1. Just in case you don’t know what a futon is……
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Futon
2. Clearly a reference to Shonen Jump if you weren’t sure what it was. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shonen_Jump_(magazine)
3. The term that was actually used here was Tankoubon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank%C5%8Dbon I used the word volume, but in reality it just meant will the manga be sold by volumes or another method (like chapter to chapter subscription).
4. Eroge: Erotic Games, aka R-18 games
5. SNS: Social Networking Service, you know stuff like twitter and facebook, etc.
Also “wwww” stands for warau, which is basically the Japanese version of “lol”.
6. PV: Promotional Video, basically a trailer.
7. Nico Nico Douga is a Japanese video streaming site, basically the Japanese Youtube lol. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niconico
8. Many Asian video streaming sites have comments float across the video or stream, instead of just a comment section on the bottom of a video.
9. 9. Mook
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mook_(publishing)
10. She’s talking in Kansai dialect.
11. CRT TV: If you’re a 2000s person, you probably wouldn’t even know what this it, but it’s an old-fashioned model that was replaced by LCD monitors.(shimi: CRT TV was still quite popular in developing country until 2010 though) (Sage: in case you still don’t know, it’s those chunky TVs that were out way back before flat screens became a thing. Oh, be careful around those; if you broke the glass of it, you’d get a nasty bang. Behind that glass is a vacuum after all)
12. Zero-Ma is abbreviation for Familiar of Zero. Asterisk is short for Asterisk Wars. Haganai is short for Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Familiar_of_Zero
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Asterisk_War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haganai
13. The little sister is asking why he spoke without a dialect basically. Don’t forget he was born in Kansai where they speak Kansai dialect.



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