Volume 11 Chapter 40 Sumeragi Kukuri, The Essence Of Specialist Shirogane Aqua
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
On January 3rd, there was only one day left in the audition camp, and we were getting closer to the end. On January 5th, we finally had the audition. Today, during our break, everyone gathered to watch a TV show about Aqua-sama.
[The Essence of Specialist Shirogane Aqua]
It’s a program on a national TV channel that explores the lives of famous people and athletes. In the past, they have featured Morikawa Kaede, a well-known announcer, and Kirika Kotono, a manager representing Beryl, which apparently got high ratings. According to insiders in the Holy Aqua Religion, there are rumors of offers being extended to Kanon-san and President Atori after Aqua-sama.
By the way, I received an offer before the audition, but I turned it down to keep the competition fair. I am with my mother. I have to achieve everything I want on my own. It’s only because I am given everything I want and desire that I, or rather, Sumeragi, have to continuously show my worth as the head of the Sumeragi family. To do that, I have been taught that I should not let others underestimate me, no matter how old they are.
’Hey? What about the development of that matching app… I mean, matching software?’
’Um, well, you see, about the development… um, it’s been delayed, and, uh, sorry about that!!’
I feel a little strange when I see the Prime Minister of this country bowing down to me really quickly. I don’t want to cause any trouble, but I admire how she can bow down so naturally.
In the past, when I tried to say sorry for something I did wrong, the former leaders of the Kokucho party told me not to bow down as a member of Sumeragi. Since then, I have never bowed down to anyone.
However, when I see Emily-chan, who is willing to bow down for the Prime Minister and her friends, and Aqua-sama, who can do anything and is allowed to be free in this world while pursuing their ideal world, I think it’s awesome. Today, I can learn more about Aqua-sama, so I focus on the screen in front of me.
[Shirogane Aqua’s Early Morning]
I am deeply moved by Aqua-sama’s appearance as he runs in the morning. His strong body and noble face are definitely the result of his hard work every day. He is so determined. It’s great!
[What does training mean to idol Shirogane Aqua?]
Aqua-sama’s figure is sitting deeply in the chair. Suit and sunglasses!? Wait, these sunglasses feel like the same ones someone else wore recently.
’Facing my other self… isn’t that it?”
Aqua-sama’s figure, sweating and with a pained expression, doing strength training is reflected. Even in such difficult times, Aqua-sama always shows a smile. I felt like I was taught what is essential for an idol, not to lose that smile even in difficult times. Great! I tell myself that it’s not just because Manager Kirika’s large breasts, which were next to me, were shaking vigorously up and down.
[What kind of food does Shirogane Aqua like?]
Oh, it looks like yummy Japanese food! Pegonia-san is good at cooking, but I’ve heard Aqua-sama is an impressive cook too. Amazing!
’Isn’t it surprising? Did you expect me to have a more limited diet?’
Once again, Aqua-sama appears in a suit and sunglasses. It doesn’t seem quite right, but is this what the program wants?
’For me, Shirogane Aqua, food is all about gratitude. Gratitude towards the farmers who grow the vegetables, gratitude towards the farmers who raise the animals, gratitude towards the fishermen who catch the fish, and gratitude towards the nature that takes care of everything. Cooking is like a special ritual to enjoy these things deliciously. It’s about savoring seasonal ingredients and eating what you desire. That’s what gratitude means. Of course, I need to be mindful of my figure to a certain extent. But it’s still important to enjoy meals. That’s my philosophy as Shirogane Aqua.’
Indeed, Aqua-sama always remembers to be thankful. Amazing! I used to think Aqua-sama liked eating a lot, but now I see how cute he is. Not getting stressed during meals is also important, I think. I want Aqua-sama to live a long time.
[What is Shirogane Aqua’s motivation for being an idol?]
At that question, while Kagari Rinon-san, Number 8 of the Holy Aqua Religion, was driving the car, Aqua-sama read fan letters sent to the company.
’The fan letters I get are like precious treasures and my motivation. They’re also connected to the meal we just had. People need nutrition to live, and eating is the action to get that nutrition. An idol’s power comes from the enthusiasm of the fans, and fan letters help to absorb that enthusiasm.’
I get it now… Maybe I was imagining Aqua-sama looking at the photos attached to the letters. He was actually reading the fan letters with shiny and pure eyes. Wow, it’s impressive how much Aqua-sama cares about his fans. He’s really amazing!
[What are Shirogane Aqua’s Valuable Moments?]
Now, the screen showed pictures of Shirogane Aqua having fun with Mayuzumi Shintaro-san and Nekoyama Toa-san at school, and with Tenga Akira-senpai at work. Seeing the sweet and appropriate image of Aqua-sama, I can’t help but feel a strange feeling. Oh! This might be what they call motherly instincts. I see, I think I understand a little bit about the feelings of being a mother.
’For me and for idol Shirogane Aqua, meeting these three people is a very important thing. Having friends who have the same dream and companions who have the same aspirations. And we are grateful to the adults who support us. Yes, Shirogane Aqua’s life itself is gratitude. That’s why, right now, I am grateful to Announcer Onidzuka, who is like a big sister to me.’
The camera captured the surprised face of Announcer Onidzuka, who was conducting the interview. It feels like Aqua-sama was looking at the bulge on Announcer Onidzuka’s chest, who was wearing a shirt, but it might just be my imagination. I think today was a tiring day because I practiced dancing a lot.
’So, that’s why I shouldn’t depend too much on this place. I’m alone in Beryl. On purpose, you know.’
From behind, I heard Toa-san’s voice, talking about Aqua’s attempt to show off or do something.
’Aqua~, Tenga-senpai wants to eat Okonomiyaki and monja with everyone~!’
’Oh, got it!’
Aqua-sama turned back to the camera again and let out a slightly embarrassed cough.
’I’m alone in Beryl. On purpose, you know.’
I don’t know where he’s alone, but Aqua-sama’s determined face is cool and fantastic! From behind, I heard Toa-san saying that Aqua is only alone when he’s being lovey-dovey with a boobs.
To do something for Aqua-sama’s sake, I should send a complaint email to the national broadcaster later, asking them to properly edit that part.
’Oh, and don’t mess around with Tenga-senpai’s sunglasses, okay?’
Oh, I remember seeing those before! Mayuzumi-san had the same sunglasses as Tenga-senpai from yesterday’s funny mini-impersonation show! After that, Aqua-sama got really serious, attending important meetings, practicing with the group, taking personal lessons, and coming up with new dance moves with Ichise-sensei. It was quite a scene!
”His sudden seriousness surprised me!”
”At first, I thought he was an expert in ‘breastmology’…”
”He looks so cool when he’s being an idol!”
”But I like AquaP more when he’s not trying to be cool…”
”As a fan of idols, I want to see Aqua-sama’s cool side, but as Aqua-sama’s fan, I also want to see the not-so-cool side. Basically, I’m happy to see both sides!”
It’s okay to gossip, but shhh, let’s make sure no one hears us, okay? And Lapis-san, since you’re Aqua-sama’s little sister, could you act a bit more dignified? Like, try not to look constantly apologetic like your brother always does!
[How about your rest as Idol?]
At that question, the camera showed Kanon welcoming Aqua back home. Her warm hug surprises the people around them. “Wait, I’m still in middle school, is it okay for me to see this?” Even a female staff member was so overwhelmed by the situation that she lay down.
’In any situation, rest is important. No matter who you are, you can’t keep running forever. So it’s okay to stop. It’s okay to go back. When you stop, it’s a rest for the next dash, and when you go back, it’s a run-up for the next sprint. So it’s important to take breaks.’
At this point, the interviewer, Announcer Onidzuka, took the bold step of asking Aqua if he had any hobbies for his days off.
’Yes, I do. Actually, there’s something I’ve been into lately. Please come this way.’
Guided by Aqua, they head to another room. It seems to have the same layout as reported by the maid, Rin Kazami, Kunoichi, who sneaked in. As someone who will become Aqua’s future bride, it is only natural for me to memorize the layout of our future home for when that time comes.
They were taken to a room where I saw many paintings with something drawn on them.
’To be honest, I have really been enjoying drawing lately.’
Huh? Drawing? I can’t fully understand what is drawn there, but since famous artists have praised it as modern and unique, it must be a fantastic painting. Yes, yes, I’m sure that’s the case. It’s lovely! The only thing I can understand is the writing that is also drawn. Aqua-sama’s handwriting is neat, but when he adds strange marks or symbols during signings, I can’t understand them. It even caused confusion during the Summer Comic Market. Um… “Crazy Boy of Art” with a strange symbol like a swastika? Not Shirogane Aqua?
’This ‘Crazy Boy of Art’ is my name as a painter, not as an idol. I was considering between ‘Slimy with Heat’ and this, but I ultimately chose this one.’
Aqua-sama said to the camera that he hopes to have his own art exhibition someday. He wants to warm someone’s heart through his art, just like Maria-sensei, who is revered as the Number 7 of the Holy Aqua Religion. Seeing Aqua-sama’s passion and sparkling eyes at that moment made my heart flutter. Aqua-sama is always amazing when he is serious about something!
[Shirogane Aqua, what is an idol?]
The screen shows the backstage of a live performance. This happened during a recent Christmas event. Aqua-sama’s serious expression surprises and attracts me.
”Wow, he looks really cool when he’s being an idol. I don’t mind if the art is a bit weird.”
”Actually, when I see the cool Aqua-sama, I think the strange art is amazing.”
”I’m already a big fan of breasts and an enthusiast of Aqua-sama, so I accept everything because he’s cool.”
”Even my feverish beans are soaking wet when I see the cool Aqua-sama.”
I tell the staff from the Holy Aqua Religion to remove the last comment. I can’t let Aqua-sama hear such inappropriate words.
’What is an idol? I’m curious to know the opposite. Onidzuka-san, can you tell me what an idol is?’
’Huh? Oh… well, in my opinion, idols are people who entertain and cheer us up. Thank you! I think idols mean different things to different people. Fans have different expectations, so there’s no one right answer.’
Aqua-sama’s serious profile is shown. Amazing! After a short break, Aqua-sama smiles kindly at the camera.
’I think my life is still on a journey to discover what my ideal idol image is, and what it truly means to be the idol Shirogane Aqua.’
Wow! So cool! Fantastic!! Then, there is footage of Aqua-sama being busy on stage and behind the scenes at the live show. Remembering the atmosphere here just a little while ago when I watched the same thing, I felt a tingling sensation down my back.
[Lastly, what does ‘specialist’ mean to you?]
Aqua-sama in a suit is shown. Since there are no sunglasses, it seems like they were returned to Tenga-senpai.
’…I want to say as Shirogane Aqua, but I’m still far from the person I aspire to be. However, I have someone I look up to.’
As an actor, it might be Kohina Yukari-san, but as the idol Shirogane, having someone to aspire to is new to me. Everyone present exchanged glances involuntarily. Since Ichise-sensei and Kai-san seemed surprised, I’m sure no one knew.
’Myojo Lily. Maybe, nobody knows. I looked for her too.’
Who? I gestured to a follower of the nearby Holy Aqua Religion with my eyes. If it’s one of the Twelve Bishops, it should be clear on the High-Performance Server right away. This is the person Aqua-sama admires, and as Sumeragi, I will do my best to find it. In the worst case, I will contact the Minister of Justice and check the family registration database, but… no, there’s a chance that I won’t find her if she’s using a fake name for her idol activities. That might make it a little difficult.
’You looked for her? Huh? Does that mean you saw her in a video or something, but couldn’t find out where she is…?’
’Well, something like that.’
Ah… that’s the expression he makes when he’s not telling the truth. Thanks to Aqua-sama’s acting skills, nobody notices, but I, who have been trained since I was a child, have a sharp eye for detecting lies. That’s why I know that Agewa-oneechan and Emily-nee-chan are really good people.
’Aqua, Tenga-senpai wants to try both the Hiroshima and Kansai styles!’
’Yeah, I understand! But I’m currently in the middle of recording.’
When Aqua-sama looked back at the camera, he had his usual kind expression.
’So, it seems like there are people who can’t wait any longer. Should we end it here?’
’Yes! Thank you so much for this time!’
’Thank you too! We are excited for the broadcast!’
Aqua-sama stood up and walked towards where Toa-san’s voice could be heard.
’Oh no, if I wear a white suit, it will be a mess if the sauce splashes. Toa, I will quickly change now, so please ask Tenga-senpai to wait a little longer.’
’Seriously, Aqua, you haven’t worn a white suit since the wedding. You never wear such clothes normally, so what happened today?’
’Well, I wanted to show off… Also, I received it from John, but I only wear it for special occasions like this.’
The video stopped. It didn’t have a proper ending, but Aqua-sama playing the ED song on the piano looked cool, so it was nice!
”Um, I’m getting nervous. The training camp ends tomorrow, and the audition is the day after tomorrow, right?”
Amamiya Kotori-san slumps on the desk. She’s nervous, but she’ll be okay.
”Yeah, that’s right. Girls who pass will do a mochi pounding event and a New Year’s visit as Beryl idols the next day.”
Nanase Nino-san acts normal. No nervousness.
”What will everyone do after the training camp tomorrow? I’m Mary, so I’m close, but I want to practice until the last minute, so I’ll stay here.”
Kirihara Karen-san tries to be calm but seems quite nervous. Captain Kotori-san noticed, so I can leave it to her.
”I heard nearby people can go home temporarily, but I won’t. My hometown is Osaka, and it’s too much trouble to go back to the dorm in Chiba. In Tokyo, Himachi… I heard an acquaintance’s sister is here, but it’s not a place for strangers to sleep. Besides, I want to practice until the last minute.”
”I can’t go home either because my family is in Akita. Also, I want to practice until the last minute… But, it’s my last year, so if I pass Beryl, I’m moving to Tokyo! Right? Kukuri-chan, are you going back home?”
I drink juice through a straw and then stop before talking.
”Since we’ve come this far, I can’t be the only one who leaves. Also, if everyone else is staying, I can’t go alone, right?”
Kotori smiles at me happily. I ignore it and drink more juice through the straw.
”Hey, I think I’m getting to know Kukuri-chan better now that we’re here.”
I make a face and drink the juice with a “chu chu” sound, even though the cup is empty, and I’m just drinking melted ice water. I want to show that I’m a bit annoyed.
”Sorry, but if you want to talk, why not do it with just the three of you? I’m leaving.”
Saying that, I stand up and walk towards a certain person.
Honestly, I thought I could handle an idol audition easily, but even with my skills, I’m still not enough. In terms of overall ability, including dancing and singing, I think Captain Kotori-san from Team B, Tomoe Setsuna-san from Team C, Hoshikawa Mio-san, and Lapis, Aqua-sama’s sister, and Nekoyama Subaru-san from Team D are all at the same age as me.
So, if it’s at this level of competition, there’s no reason I can’t win in the actual performance. Kotori-san is a teammate, but the pass or fail is based on individual performance, so she’s also a rival to compete with. So, I have to beat her too.
The real challenge is above that. I’ve been watching Natsuki Sana-san from Team A for a long time, but she doesn’t have a single weakness. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call her a flawless idol. It’s like having someone as skilled as Tsukimachi Ayana suddenly appear among amateurs. Well, you might think that’s going too far, but if you’re participating in the same audition, you should understand this feeling. She was just overwhelming in both dancing and singing.
But, the big danger isn’t her.
It was Inori Hisui-san, the leader of Team C. She’s really good at singing and dancing, and sometimes when I watch her, she reminds me of Aqua-sama. It’s like she’s not copying Aqua like Yamada Maruo-san did. At first, I thought it was just me, but then I saw other people reacting the same way—staff, Ichise-sensei, Moja-sensei, President Atori, Manager Kirika, and others.
Basically, I have to compete with Tsukimachi Ayana-san’s Natsuki Sana-san, who’s the best female idol, and also be compared to Inori Hisui-san, who’s like a perfect copy of idol Shirogane Aqua, or maybe another Shirogane Aqua. If I’m judged based on them, everyone knows I won’t win in the next two days. Aqua-sama might find a way, but I’m not like him. So, I have to win against Inori Hisui-san in at least one way.
The only thing I can do for that is one thing.
I went to the room where Mizusumi Ichise-sensei, the choreographer, was present. I wanted to see her and also spend some time with my team, who I have shared both happy and sad moments with.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.