A Bowl of Noodles, a Cup of Coffee, a Glass of Beer

WORDS WORDS WORDS
themocaw
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by themocaw » Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:58 pm

GG Crono wrote:
Robnonymous wrote:I seem to recall you saying that the majority of your writing sucks. Are you insane???
A lot of amateur writers - myself including - often say that their own work sucks, especially when it's pretty good. We tend to be our own harshest critics. :)
The way I think about it, every creative type is both their harshest critic and greatest fan. You have to be your harshest critic or you'll never improve. You have to be your greatest fan or else you'll lose motivation.

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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Brogurt » Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:43 pm

GG Crono wrote:We tend to be our own harshest critics. :)
That's something I notice a lot when writing or photoshopping or doing whatever. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that people are sheep, and if you don't tell them that there's something wrong, they'll never find out on their own. Unhappy with that sentence structure? Fail to give more explanation on that event? Dissatisfied with the cropping on that image? Do a shitty job of matching those colors? Don't bring it up, and nobody will notice. Ever.

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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by scott1and » Fri Mar 02, 2012 6:59 pm

Ah, Mutou, you old dirt bag you. I was picture some big gruff guy with bullet holes in his coat and 5 o'clock shadow :mrgreen:
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themocaw
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by themocaw » Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:17 pm

scott1and wrote:Ah, Mutou, you old dirt bag you. I was picture some big gruff guy with bullet holes in his coat and 5 o'clock shadow :mrgreen:
When I wrote his scenes, I imagined Detective Gumshoe from the Ace Attorney series as playing the part of Keiji Mutou. :D

Synthus
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Synthus » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:36 pm

Brogurt wrote:That's something I notice a lot when writing or photoshopping or doing whatever. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that people are sheep, and if you don't tell them that there's something wrong, they'll never find out on their own. Unhappy with that sentence structure? Fail to give more explanation on that event? Dissatisfied with the cropping on that image? Do a shitty job of matching those colors? Don't bring it up, and nobody will notice. Ever.
To be fair, people generally don't analyze every line with an extremely critical eye when they're viewing media for entertainment. It generally has to be egregiously bad or simply incongruous in order to warrant attention or comment.

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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Daitengu » Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:41 pm

Synthus wrote:
Brogurt wrote:That's something I notice a lot when writing or photoshopping or doing whatever. I think a lot of it stems from the fact that people are sheep, and if you don't tell them that there's something wrong, they'll never find out on their own. Unhappy with that sentence structure? Fail to give more explanation on that event? Dissatisfied with the cropping on that image? Do a shitty job of matching those colors? Don't bring it up, and nobody will notice. Ever.
To be fair, people generally don't analyze every line with an extremely critical eye when they're viewing media for entertainment. It generally has to be egregiously bad or simply incongruous in order to warrant attention or comment.
True. Everyone is human, expecting perfection is impossible and creates a really messed up person. Personally, as long as it's just minor I tend to gloss over errors. Odd wording is pretty normal for me, it might be because I read poorly translated stuff so I tend to have to figure it out, or maybe I'm a bit Aspie and can get the jist of it anyway.

If it's a syntax issue, I may bring it up if the syntax creates a sentence that could have misleading meaning. Usually that doesn't even bother me though. Tense is pretty important. If you write say 3rd person, and one of the characters is telling a story in past tense about a friend who was dreaming of the future, you gotta get it right, or you just screw the reader up.

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A Cup of Coffee

Post by themocaw » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:22 pm

"It doesn't look so bad," I say, as I finish my examination of the ankle. "Just a bit of a sprain. I'll ice it down for you, and you can borrow a pair of crutches. Stay off it as much as possible for about a week, and you should be fine."

"Thanks," my patient says, sighing.

"How did this happen, anyway?" I ask, as I prepare the ice pack.

"Basketball."

"Oh?"

"I was playing basketball with a few of my students. I went up for a jump shot and came down wrong." My patient sighs. "I'm getting too old to play with those kids."

"Perhaps its time to come up with a new pastime, then?" I say, grinning, as I apply the ice pack.

"Perhaps," my patient says. "Are you the new head nurse?"

"What? Oh, yes," I say, as I tape the ice pack into place over the swelling ankle. "I just started last week. And you are?"

"Akio Mutou. Science Teacher."

"The way you say it, you make it sound like you're some kind of secret agent."

"Nowhere near as exciting. Most of the time I spend rambling on and on at kids with no interest at all in the subject, except as naptime. Or as an inconvenient speed bump on the way towards graduation."

Given the sopoforic nature of his normal speech patterns, I'm not surprised his students are falling asleep in class. I go to the coffee maker and pour myself a cup of coffee. "Want one?"

"Thank you," Mutou says. "Black."

I pour a second cup of coffee for him, and he accepts it gratefully. He breathes in the scent, and his eyebrows raise in surprise. "This smells like some good stuff," he says, taking a sip.

"Sumatran. Life's too short to drink bad coffee, and I certainly do enough of that," I explain, taking a sip of my own brew. "Caffeine is my one unhealthy vice."

"Beer's mine. Nothing like a good cold beer after a long day. That's the downside of living on-campus. Can't bring alcohol onto school grounds. Not that I couldn't sneak it past school security, but it's the principle of the thing." He takes another sip of his coffee. "So, what brings you here, anyway?"

"I work here," I point out. "This is my office."

"No. I mean. . . to Yamaku. I looked over your CV when the principal announced you were replacing Takahashi. You took a pay cut from a job at a major hospital to come here. Why?"

"Mmm. Let's just say I have my reasons."

Akio Mutou nods. "Who's the student?"

I chuckle. "No hiding it from you. She's an incoming first-year, going to be joining up this spring. Emi Ibarazaki."

"The name sounds familiar."

"Her father was an up-and-coming track star a while back. He was talked about as an Olympic hopeful. Then he got into a car accident and was killed. His daughter was with him when it happened. Traumatic amputation of both legs below the knee." I sip my coffee thoughtfully. "Anyway. I've had a ton of patients before and after her, but something about Emi was different. I guess I grew kind of fond of her." I laugh. "Very unprofessional of me."

"The downside of being a human being," Mutou says.

"What about you? What brought you here?" I ask.

"Let's just say I'm human as well," Mutou says.

"Mmm." I take another sip of my coffee as the setting sun casts an orange light into the office.

My patient clears his throat. "My little brother is a cop."

"Oh?"

"He likes to claim that he got all the brawn and I got all the brains. Don't believe it. He's one of the smartest men I've ever met. Good eye for observation, very good analytical thinker. He could have been a great scientist. Instead he went into law enforcement."

"Oh." I'm starting to understand Akio Mutou a little better: he's your classic socially awkward intellectual: the type of person who tends to talk around a subject before getting into it.

"Keiji's in juvenile crimes. Most of the time he talks to delinquent kids and brings in teenagers who decided to do some shoplifting: scare them straight, talk to the parents, see what he can do to keep them out of juvie. Every once in a while, though, he gets one of those really bad cases. The worst are when a kid's been bullied and no one does anything about it." Mutou drains the rest of his coffee and crumples the cup in his hand. "Either the kid snaps or the bullies go over the line. Either way, it gets ugly. There's nothing so cruel as a child, you know. Adults understand that actions have consequences. Kids don't."

"I don't think I follow."

"Then you don't really understand Yamaku."

"Mmm." I stay silent and let Mutou go on. I recognize a professor in full lecturing mode when I see one.

"Yamaku's not a school for special needs kids," Mutou goes on. "If we were catering to the needs of our disabled students, we would have built an entire new school from the ground up. We'd split students up by disabilities into separate classes. We'd have the hospital on-campus instead of in-town. We wouldn't have any non-disabled students at all. But that's not the point.

"The point is," Mutou continues, "Yamaku's a middle ground between a school for disabled kids and a normal high school. We don't cater to our students' disabilities, but we do offer a safe haven where they won't need to feel so different. It doesn't work perfectly, but it's harder to bully someone for their disabilities when you're disabled yourself. It's also why we have a few non-disabled students in the school: first, to give any kids who want to go into that career field a chance to gain some experience. Secondly, it gives both sets of students a chance to interact. The able-bodied get to interact with disabled students and see they're not so different. Disabled kids have a chance to interact with the able-bodied in a situation where the able-bodied are a minority. Less confrontational.

"It's also why we chose this location. Yamaku was already an established private high school with a good reputation. All it took was getting enough of its sponsors invested in the idea to make the change. The village had a few objections at first, but they came around soon enough. They're used to us enough now that the kids feel comfortable going into town to shop and hang out. When they're used to that, they can always hitch a bus into the city. In some ways, that village is as important to these kids' educations as anything on campus.

"In any case, the point of Yamaku isn't to take care of our students. It's to give them a safe spot from which to move out into the world. We're not taking care of invalids here. We're training citizens. And that," Mutou concludes, "is the purpose of Yamaku High School."

"Then I think I made the right choice coming here," I say. "And I think Emi will be perfect for this place."

I finish my own cup of coffee and rinse my mug out in the sink.

"By the way," I ask, "you didn't answer my question."

"Oh?"

"I asked what brought you to Yamaku. I didn't ask you for a lecture on its purpose and mission."

"Mmmm." Akio takes aim for my wastebasket and tosses his crumpled-up cup at it like a basketball player taking a free shot.

Swish.

Nothing but net.

"Let me just say that I understand your impulse towards Miss Ibarazaki."
Last edited by themocaw on Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

Zoram
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Zoram » Mon Mar 05, 2012 3:54 pm

An interesting digression exploring the nature and goals of Yamaku, I think you nailed it perfectly. It was never stated in the game whether the nurse ending up at the same special school Emi went to was a coincidence or not, so the idea he decided to come there for her works. Now, I'll be curious to know what exactly links this chapter to the OP beside the mention of Keiji Mutou.

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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:51 pm

Looks like this story is going to be quite elaborate.
Let's see...
- elaborate story
- about Saki
- by themocaw
- featuring interesting OCs...

I can't imagine what could go wrong with that combination.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by Mahorfeus » Mon Mar 05, 2012 10:36 pm

It's Misha, is it?

I'm really liking how this is going.
"A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love." -Stendhal
The verdict is (finally) in:
Hanako > Rin > Emi > Lilly = Shizune

themocaw
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A Glass of Beer

Post by themocaw » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:35 am

You hate doing this, but you have no choice. After all, you're the big brother.

Keiji is waiting for you when you pull into the parking lot. He's standing next to his nondescript white sedan, the one with the hidden shotgun in the trunk and the police radio in the dash. He drops his cigarette on the ground and grinds it out under his shoe. "Yo, Aniki!" he calls out.

Still talking to you like he's some punk kid. You smile despite yourself.

"Hello, Keiji," you say, getting out of your car. "How are you?"

"Not bad," Keiji says. "Ready?"

"I guess we might as well get it over with," you sigh.

Keiji nods sympathetically and gives you a light punch on the upper arm. You smile back at him as you steel yourself to enter the big white building.

-----

The room is clean, and smells like disinfectant. The hard tile floor is an ugly greenish color, probably the cheapest color of tile that the builders could buy when this building was made, decades ago. In this room are tables with patients sitting around, playing cards and such. Some of them are sitting in front of a television, watching a variety show. Many of them are sitting in chairs or on a couch. A few of them are in armchairs.

Others are in wheelchairs.

There is a man in a wheelchair, in his late thirties. His hands are twisted and deformed, and his body spasms as he stares sightlessly at the television set out of the corner of his eye. His mouth opens and closes, like a fish's, as he shudders and jerks.

The man in the wheelchair is suffering from a disease called Minamata Syndrome. It's a severe form of heavy metal poisoning, caused by an irresponsible chemical company dumping huge amounts of mercury into a river in the 1960s. The mercury accumulated in fish. The fish was eaten by a woman while she was pregnant with this man.

The woman was your mother.

The man is Satoshi.

He's your little brother.

"Satoshi," you say, loudly and clearly, kneeling in front of him. "Satoshi, Akio and Keiji are here to visit you."

The doctors say that his hearing and sight are severely impaired. Combined with the severe damage to his motor skills, it's nearly impossible to communicate with him. You're not sure whether there is a mind inside that twisted and bent frame. But sometimes, when he stares at you like this, you feel quite certain that there is someone there for you to talk to.

"Satoshi," you say. "It's been about a month since we last visited you. I'm sorry we haven't been by more often. The school year is ending for me, and I've been busy grading papers and filling out report cards. We'll be by more often soon."

You fill him in on the details of your lives, trying to focus on the happy parts. Satoshi's head lolls on his weak neck as you talk to him about the students who thanked you at graduation. Keiji talks to Satoshi about his job, about how he's gotten a new promotion recently. You spend some time talking to your little brother, hoping he can hear, hoping he can understand, knowing he can never talk back.

Towards the end, you stand up and take his hand. "Satoshi, I'm going to go talk with your doctor now. Keiji will stay here and watch television with you. Then we'll go for a walk in the garden, all right?"

As you stand up to walk away, you feel your little brother's twisted hand tighten around yours. He throws his head back and looks up at you. A broad, innocent smile comes over his face.

You smile back, feeling sick inside.

You walk away before he can see your eyes filling up with tears.

-----

"He's doing better recently," the doctor informs you. "His behavior's gotten much more controllable, and the nurses say he's getting along better with the patients. His vitals are good, although he had a few health problems with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago. . ."

You sit there in the office and listen to the doctor go through the regular litany of your little brother's daily life. You listen to every word, hoping that in this way you can find absolution for leaving him in this place for so long, away from his family.

What else can you do? You and Keiji have your own lives to live. Caring for Satoshi is a 24 hour job, and you live alone. It would be entirely unfair to ask Keiji's wife to take care of your damaged little brother.

This is the best you can do for him.

You wish there were more.

-----

You spend some time walking with your little brother through the sanitarium gardens.

At one point, a butterfly flies over and lands on his arm.

He doesn't like that. He moans in distress as he tries to brush it away with spastic movements of his hands.

Keiji brushes it off for him. He watches the orange-and-red insect fly away with a cold, bitter look in his eyes.

The rest of the walk is pretty nice. You enjoy spending time with your family in the bright sunlight and the beautiful flowers. You hope the rest of Satoshi's life is like this too, when you're not around.

-----

There is a bar down the street where you and Keiji always go for beers after these visits, both to give you a chance to socialize, and because, after paying a visit to your little brother, you always need a drink.

It used to make you feel guilty, the fact that you needed to drink after you met your own flesh and blood. You've long since gotten over it. It's better to swallow the guilt and spend time with your little brother than to try and torture yourself out of some misguided sense of nobility.

Keiji takes out his lighter and cigarettes as you pour the foaming amber liquid from the pitcher into two small glasses. "Kampai," you say softly.

The two of you clink glasses together and drink. You down yours in one huge gulp and start to pour a second. Keiji sips his slowly, then takes a cigarette from his pack and lights one up.

He blows the bitter smelling smoke into the evening air as you sit on the rooftop beer garden, watching the city lights come to life.

"Ayako's pregnant," Keiji says, after a long while.

"Oh? Congratulations!" you say, smiling. "It took you long enough."

"You're the oldest, you should be the first to have kids. . . but you know how things go," Keiji says, wryly. "Sometimes, these things happen."

"Don't feel guilty. I'm proud of you, little brother. Have you decided on a name?"

"Yeah. Ayako's agreed that we'll name our first after Dad if it's a boy. . . or Mom if it's a girl."

"Ah," you say softly.

For a moment, the two of you sit in silence under the eaves, thinking about your parents. Your father, a working-class fisherman who worked his hands to the bone providing for his family, killed suddenly by a rogue wave while out working on the high seas. Your mother, a homemaker who took up work in the fish processing plant to help make ends meet, then had to quit that to care for her damaged youngest son, last legacy of her beloved husband. Somehow, she'd managed to raise three young boys into young men, as well as providing for your own college education.

It's been a long, hard road, but in the end, Setsuko Mutou's boys did all right for themselves, you suppose.

"I'm scared as hell," Keiji admits.

"You? The hard-boiled detective? The guy who works with juvenile delinquents for a living? Scared?"

"This is different. This is my kid. If I screw this up. . ."

"Keiji, you'll do fine," you say reassuringly. You feel a long lecture about to rise up, but stifle it. Keiji already knows that he'll make a good parent: he just needs his big brother's support, not Professor Akio Mutou's diatribes. "You're going to be fantastic."

Keiji smiles back at you, and you raise your glasses in another toast: this time, for the new Mutou life about to be brought into the world.

-----

"By the way," Keiji says, after a while. "I've got another possible prospect for you. This one's a girl."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Female delinquent type. Angry at the world. Got some sort of nervous system condition. Does that qualify for a full scholarship?"

"It can, depending on the nature of the condition," you say. "Are you sure she's going to be all right for the school? We don't take in hardened criminals."

"She's not a hardened criminal, not yet. Just pissed off at the world." Keiji smiles. "She's a good kid, just needs a chance to prove it."

You nod. "Did you give her my card?"

"Yeah. Name's Saki Enomoto. Let me know if she calls you, all right?" Keiji's smile widens into a wry grin. "Consider it part of my debt repaid."

You nod in return.

Keiji'd had this tough time in his late teens: angry at the world, running around with the wrong crowd, just wasting his life away. He'd dropped out of high school and seemed on the road to failure and misery when your mother had suddenly passed away of a stroke. Something had changed in him that day, and he'd come to you asking for help to turn his life around.

It hadn't been easy: you'd just gotten your first job as a high school teacher. But you were the big brother. You had no choice.

The next few years had been hell, trying to support you both on a teacher's salary. Keiji sleeping on the couch every night. Eating cold rice and beans three meals a day while every cent you could spare went into Satoshi's care and cram school lessons for Keiji. Sometimes you'd wanted to wash your hands of your little brothers and just run away.

You never did.

At the end of it, when Keiji had graduated from the police academy, he'd come to you with his first paycheck. "This is yours," he'd said. "You earned this for me. I'll pay you back for everything you did for me."

Stupid. There was no way a debt like that could ever be repaid. But the gesture had to be made.

You handed the paycheck back to him, and told him, "Don't pay me back. You owe this debt to everyone you come across from now on. If you ever come across a kid who needs help, just like you did, who needs a fair chance? Send them to me. I'll see what I can do for them. That's how you'll pay me back from now on."

And Keiji's paid you back tenfold since then.

-----

"It's good seeing you again," Keiji says, as he gets into his car. "You sure you're all right to drive?"

"Do you want to give me a breathalyzer test?" you ask.

"Nah. You're family. That wouldn't be proper."

Keiji starts up the engine. . . hesitates. He turns off his car and takes out the keys. "Minamo called me the other day," he says. "She asked how you're doing."

"What did you tell her?" you ask.

"I told her you're still at Yamaku. Still teaching. Still doing fine. She says to send you her love."

You nod. "Thanks."

"You two should get back together, aniki," Keiji says. "You two still care for each other, I know."

You rub your left ring finger, still missing the feeling of the golden band that used to be there, but hasn't been there in years. "Sometimes that's not enough. I loved Minamo, but I was dedicated to teaching. She was always second in my life, and she couldn't accept that. I can't blame her for it, either."

"That was a long time ago. People change, you know."

"Sometimes. But they don't change that much."

Keiji nods at that: not in agreement, but in acknowledgement. He starts up his car again and waves to you as he drives off.

You watch his red tail lights drive off into the night.

-----

It's 4 am by the time you get back to Yamaku. You don't bother trying to sleep. Instead, you catch a shower, make yourself a hot cup of coffee, and drink it slowly as you wait for your students to arrive.

Your students file into the classroom wearily. It's Saturday morning. No one ever takes half-day classes seriously. It's just another day of make-work and catch-up time to them.

You jot down a few problems on the board and a few page numbers, assign some independent study. They pretend that they're working studiously. The room seems strangely quiet, though. It takes you a moment to understand why.

There's a girl sitting with her head down at the back of the classroom. Her long, brown hair, normally combed neatly, is a bit of a tangled mess. For a moment, you feel like ignoring it. What does it matter? It's none of your business, right?

But you're the teacher. You have no choice.

"Everyone, please continue your independent study," you say to the class. "Shirakawa-san? Can I have a word with you in the hallway?"

Yuuko Shirakawa looks up at you and blinks. There are dark circles under her reddened eyes, hidden behind her thin, wire-framed glasses. The girl has obviously been crying all night.

She follows you out into the hallway, sniffling and rubbing her eyes. "Are you all right, Shirakawa-san?" you ask.

"I. . . I'm sorry, teacher," Shirakawa says, sniffling. "I just. . . I broke up with my boyfriend recently. . ."

You try to hide your grimace: you're not exactly a big fan of Shirakawa's borderline schizophrenic boyfriend. "I'm sorry to hear that," you say. "Would you like to spend some time in the nurse's office?"

"I'm. . . I'm fine, teacher," Shirakawa whispers. "I'll be all right."

She's lying. Keeping her in the classroom will just distract the other students. . . and Yuuko looks like a girl who needs a change of pace. "Actually," you say, "could you do me a favor, then? I borrowed some books from the library earlier, and I'm afraid they're going to be late if I don't return them soon. Maybe you could run them down there for me?"

"All. . . all right, teacher. I can do that," Shirakawa whispers, in a voice harsh from crying.

You nod and walk back into the classroom to retrieve your books. It probably won't make a big difference in the long run, but maybe, if you can give this grieving young girl a moment to forget her troubles, it will make a difference to her.

That's why you became a teacher, after all.
Last edited by themocaw on Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

themocaw
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles (Saki Story)

Post by themocaw » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:36 am

And with that,it's done.This started out as a story about Saki, but turned into a story about Mutou. Opinions? Thoughts?

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CarnivalNights
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles, a Cup of Coffee, a Glass of Beer

Post by CarnivalNights » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:39 am

Love how you make Mutou a deeper character. All Hisao did was make him sound like a socially awkward fool who hated his job.
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles, a Cup of Coffee, a Glass of Beer

Post by YOTC » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:15 am

Dude, you're awesome.

themocaw
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Re: A Bowl of Noodles, a Cup of Coffee, a Glass of Beer

Post by themocaw » Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:31 pm

CarnivalNights wrote:Love how you make Mutou a deeper character. All Hisao did was make him sound like a socially awkward fool who hated his job.
That's because Hisao's a teenager and doesn't know any better. To teens, all adults are idiots.

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