Volume 4 Chapter 20 Shirogane Aqua and His Passionate Companions
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
How did it come to this? At first, I was told they would be just an Extra, but now Toa-chan, Mayuzumi, and Tenga-senpai are all regular cast members, appearing in almost every episode. And now, the Tenga-senpai in front of me is full of enthusiasm.
”I am… the strongest!”
Holding a bee-shaped robot in his hand, Tenga-senpai, also known as Kamishiro Hajime, smoothly sweeps his bangs from left to right and strikes a dynamic pose to transform. Frankly speaking, Tenga-senpai’s transformation scene looks even cooler than mine. Despite that, he manages to come up with different poses each time, making him truly impressive.
”Alright, cut! Great job, Tenga-kun! You were amazing today!”
”Hmph… Naturally. There’s nothing challenging for me. Hah-hah-hah!”
Kamishiro Hajime, the character portrayed by Tenga-senpai, is a noble who now lives in poverty after his family’s downfall. The exact reasons for his conflict with Chijou have not been fully revealed yet, but it’s clear that Kamishiro and Kenzaki Souji, who believes Chijou should be shown compassion, have opposing ideologies.
Kamishiro, who never cared much about interacting with others, had a change of heart after starting a part-time job at a café to earn money. Through interactions with the café’s female owner and her daughter, a little girl, Kamishiro gradually opens up to people. The decisive turning point was when Kenzaki saved Kamishiro from a pinch.
Following that incident, there seemed to be a shift in Kamishiro’s emotions, as he began showing compassion towards Chijou. At this point, that’s the position his character is in.
Though the character is not very talkative, Tenga-senpai has really immersed himself in the role to the point where it’s hard to believe he’s a first-time actor. I felt even more motivated not to be outdone. On the other hand, there is a surprising challenge for another character.
”Kenjaki! Ondurul Ragittan Disukaa!”
Can you tell what this line means? It’s the line, “Did you really betray me, Kenzaki!?” This is a line said by Tachibana Zanki, a friend of Kenzaki who has been fighting with him for a long time, when he saw Kenzaki fighting with Kamishiro who had been fighting against him.
Tachibana Zanki dislikes any form of dishonesty due to his earnest nature. Although he and Kamishiro share the common goal of exterminating Chijou, he doesn’t cooperate with him because of Kamishiro’s aggressive approach and lack of cooperation.
By the way, a change occurs in the serious-minded Tachibana when he interacts with Chijou, who has lost her memories and reverted to a human form. Although Chijou eventually returns to their original state, the scene where Tachibana has to defeat her, the former chijou, is a tear-jerker.
The role of Tachibana Zanki is played by my classmate and friend, Mayuzumi Shintaro. Mayuzumi was normal during his streams, but during the filming, he tends to get nervous, resulting in frequent line flubs.
”I’m sorry! Can you do it again?”
”It’s okay, it’s okay! Don’t worry about it! You only stumbled on that one line, and you’re improving rapidly!”
However, with repeated retakes, Mayuzumi, who initially struggled, has been getting better and better, thanks to his earnestness and dedication. The director, Hongo, and the rest of the staff and actors have been patient and supportive, aiming to create a better production. I’m proud to be working with such wonderful people to bring this project to life.
Mayuzumi always says he can take on new challenges because I’m there, but it’s actually his positive attitude and spirit of taking on challenges that encourage me. And it’s not just Mayuzumi; there are other friends who inspire me as well.
”Aqua-kun, can I talk to you for a moment? About this line here…”
”Oh, sure. Maybe a slightly more subdued tone would be better for this line.”
The character Toa-chan portrays is SYUKUJYO member Kagami Natsuki. Unlike the other two, she is not a Driver but still plays a significant role as a regular cast member. By the way, tomorrow’s filming will focus on Kagami Natsuki, the character Toa-chan portrays, but for some reason, I haven’t received the script yet. I’ll have to ask the director about that later.
By the way, Toa-chan seems to be quite at ease with her lines, likely due to her experience with streaming. She is doing a pretty good job with her acting too. Although she was nervous at first, her acting skills have improved significantly as we continue to film.
”Alright, Aqua-kun, can we move on to the next scene?”
”Yes! I’m ready!”
I put on the helmet of my character, Heaven’s Sword, the Driver.
”3, 2, 1…”
As the camera starts rolling, I strike a pose.
”I want to die…”
The name of the pink, somewhat cute-looking Chijou is Men Heller. She is a girl who became mentally unstable due to not being loved in the past. Every night, she wanders alone through the city, hoping someone will end her life, but her Chijou instincts won’t let her die so easily.
”Men Heller… I’ll put you out of your misery.”
I launch an attack towards Men Heller. However, she effortlessly evades my attacks. Not only that, her powerful strikes gradually damage the armored parts I’m wearing. Not wanting the fight to drag on, I grab the horn of the beetle-shaped robot attached to my belt.
As the name suggests, Armor Purge is an action where the Driver removes the armored parts they are wearing. While it reduces defense, it makes movements more agile. After a quick cut, I remove all the armored parts and stand in the same position again.
Overclock is one of the ultimate moves that can only be used after performing Armor Purge. It maximizes the Driver’s system performance, but the recoil on the body after use is severe. Despite my attempt to finish the fight, Men Heller, who looks deceptively frail, doesn’t go down easily.
As the limit time for Overclock approaches, I become anxious and take out a card from a part attached to my arm.
”Round’s Fusion, Ro-Schutz-Marr!”
A part of the beetle’s horn splits open, revealing a card reader-like slot. I quickly slide the card in.
[Change the Form! Ro-Schutz-Marr.]
This is an item developed by SYUKUJYO that allows me to seal the defeated Chijou’s power into a card and use it only when Overclock is activated. By the way, the voice emitted by the beetle is Moja-san’s, who also serves as the music director. Moja-san’s voice is quite deep and gravelly. The director asked if I knew any good-voiced old man, so I persuaded Moja-san to do it.
I stop the filming again and put on the same trench coat that Ro-Schutz-Marr was wearing.
”Why, me, what…”
I contort my expression under the helmet. Although this acting won’t be conveyed to the other side of the camera, I still try to express the pain in the intervals between dialogues and in the atmosphere of the scene, as if I were Kenzaki’s feelings, flickering the conflict in my mind.
”Ugh… I’m sorry!”
I spread the trench coat and launch a beam attack, similar to what Ro-Schutz-Marr used. Of course, this will be enhanced with effects later, and the beam won’t actually appear during this scene. Heaven’s Sword’s beam catches Men Heller, but due to a moment of hesitation, the attack misses slightly. As a result, I fail to defeat Men Heller.
[Over the Time, Clockout!]
Right at that moment, the harsh reality strikes as the Overclock time comes to an end.
I drop to my knees from the recoil of the Overclock. Before me, not only Men Heller, who is slowly healing her wounds, but also random Chijou grunts appear from all directions. It seems like it might be the end, but just then, a man with a sword intercepts the attacks from Chijou. It’s Kamishiro Hajime, played by Tenga-senpai.
I call out Hajime’s first name loudly.
”Kenzaki… can you stand?”
Though barely standing, I manage to get back up.
”Leave the surrounding Chijou to me.”
Hajime hands me the sword he was wielding. This sword’s name is Caliburn, an heirloom passed down through Hajime’s family. Somehow, it can deal damage to Chijou, who is usually only vulnerable to attacks from the Driver. After being misled for a while, Hajime bought back the sword with money earned from his part-time job and relentless effort.
”Watch carefully, will you? Here we go!!!”
From nowhere, a bee-shaped robot appears. Hajime grabs it and attaches it to his belt.
Wearing a white tuxedo, Hajime transforms into the Driver, Poison Chalice. Of course, at this point, the filming is paused, and after changing into the costume, Tenga-senpai resumes his position to strike a pose again. Poison Chalice has two weapons, one being the sword he gave me, and the other being a bow.
After shedding the armor, Poison Chalice starts using the bow to keep the Chijou grunts around Men Heller at bay.
”Now! Go, Kenzaki!!”
Seizing the opportunity, I face Men Heller again. However, my strength hasn’t fully recovered yet, and I’m barely able to defend against Men Heller’s attacks. At that moment, another helper arrives.
Although it’s an important scene, Mayuzumi isn’t the one to make repeated mistakes. He didn’t stumble in this scene.
Since the incident with Hajime, Tachibana and I sometimes distanced ourselves and even clashed with each other. Initially, Tachibana often scolded me for being too soft on Chijou, which bothered him. Nevertheless, Tachibana chose to fight together with Kenzaki and Hajime, who had lost their coiled relationship with Chijou, through a heart-to-heart talk.
By the way, I call Tachibana “san” because, in the roleplay, he is older than me.
Tachibana transforms into Lightning Hopper, a Driver inspired by a grasshopper. After performing Armor Purge in succession, he steps in between Men Heller and me, defending against her attacks.
”Kenzaki! I’ll handle all the attacks! So, so, save Men Heller! Only you, who wanted to save Chijou from the beginning, can save her now!”
Tachibana’s words cause Hajime to silently nod. Despite being quite lengthy, Mayuzumi doesn’t stumble in his lines. By the way, this scene is the second retake of the day.
Despite that, Tenga-senpai’s coolness becomes more polished with each take, and Mayuzumi, who managed to pull it off in one retake. As Kenzaki and as Shirogane Aqua, I must live up to this determination.
”Please…! Ro-Schutz-Marr, lend me your power to save Men Heller!”
The Ro-Schutz-Marr card, normally only usable during Overclock time, is not something I can use now that I’ve Clockout. However, in response to my…no, everyone’s feelings, the Ro-Schutz-Marr card starts emanating a faint, gentle light.
”You’re saying you’ll lend your power?!”
The card seems to affirm my words, enveloping itself in light once more.
I pick up the Ro-Schutz-Marr card again.
”Round’s Fusion, Ro-Schutz-Marr!”
In response to our determination, the beetle-shaped horn of Ro-Schutz-Marr splits open like a card reader. I slide the card into the slot again.
[Change the Form! Ro-Schutz-Marr]
Heaven’s Sword once again takes on the cloak of Ro-Schutz-Marr’s trench coat.
Hajime’s and Tachibana’s voices overlap, conveying their respective emotions.
”Men Heller… you’ve been suffering all alone, haven’t you?”
I approach Men Heller slowly. Other Chijou grunts try to interfere, but Poison Chalice restrains them with his arrows.
”All alone in this dark place… it must have been so lonely.”
My words make Men Heller hesitate for a moment, and Lightning Grasshopper binds her.
”I’m sorry for being late… but now, I’ll save you!!”
I open the trench coat, unleashing the same attack Ro-Schutz-Marr used. However, the light from the beam is different from the intense ones before. It exudes a warm and gentle glow, filled with compassion.
Men Heller, enveloped in the light, begins to slowly purify. Simultaneously, she transforms back into the cute human form she once had.
I hold the now-human Men Heller in my arms as she collapses to the ground.
”I… I was ignored and… that’s why…”
The Ro-Schutz-Marr card emits a small glow. It seems Ro-Schutz-Marr also became a Chijou out of a desire for recognition, wanting to be acknowledged, just like Men Heller. Perhaps it was that connection that led Ro-Schutz-Marr to lend us its aid.
”Am I… unloved by everyone…?”
I place my hand gently on Men Heller’s tightly clenched fist. Above it, Tachibana and Hajime also place their hands slowly.
”That’s not true!”
According to the script, I should answer that way. But I felt like giving such an easy answer wouldn’t be right.
”Being unloved by anyone is tough, isn’t?”
I, too, didn’t have parents in my previous life. That’s why I can understand, even if only a little, Men Heller’s feeling of not being loved by anyone.
”But… even if you were unloved by anyone, the fact that you loved someone is real! So, I guarantee that your love is genuine!!”
Men Heller had always wanted someone to stop her. Perhaps it was because she didn’t want to hurt anyone else that she sought to be defeated. Love takes different forms; that’s what I learned in this world. Love is not solely between a man and a woman. It’s also the love between family members and friends. If Men Heller was capable of loving someone, that’s something she should be proud of, even more than being loved by someone else.
”Is that… so? I, could love… someone. I… guess, I wasn’t… weak, after all.”
Men Heller sheds tears, skillfully responding to my ad-lib, bringing me back to the main script. Her performance, that of a professional actress, makes my heart tremble.
”Yeah! That’s right! You fought really well!! I guarantee it!”
Tenga-senpai raises his voice, his tone tinged with tears. It’s an impressive performance, and I can’t be outdone.
”That’s right! Even after being taken over by Chijou, you still sought to be defeated because you didn’t want to hurt anyone. A kind-hearted human like that can’t be weak, right?”
Even with the second long monologue, Mayuzumi firmly delivers his lines, his words quivering with emotion.
Men Heller smiles with a gentle, loving expression. However, Masked Driver, Heaven’s Sword, is not a show that ends with a happy ending. As she slowly closes her eyes, her body goes limp, as if entrusting herself to me. Perhaps her heart was finally saved at the very end, but all we were left with was an unresolved feeling.
Hajime clenches his fist tightly and pounds the ground.
Tachibana turns away, showing frustration. I pick up a pink ribbon that was part of Men Heller, left on the ground.
Then I stand up and raise my face toward the sky. While there should be lines here, I deliberately remain silent. With the ribbon tightly clenched in my hand, I internalize the lingering emotions.
”Cut! Excellent! Excellent! That was outstanding!!”
When I turn around, Director Hongo is shedding tears, and other staff members are crying as well. It seems like we delivered a great performance. Tenga-senpai, completely immersed in his role as Hajime, keeps shedding tears and pounding the ground even after the scene ends. It’s amazing; he’s completely possessed, as if he has become Hajime himself.
”Well then, let’s call it a day for today.”
”Yes! Great job, everyone!!”
After finishing the shoot, the director hands me the script for tomorrow. I put it in my bag to read later and head toward the bike parked at the bicycle rack.
”Sorry for making you wait. Shall we head back now?”
Toa-chan leans against the bike, holding the helmet in her hand. By the way, both Toa-chan and Mayuzumi are also getting their motorcycle licenses. Despite being busy, they find time to go to the driving school.
”Aqua-kun… there’s something I want to talk to you about. Is that okay?”
Toa-chan looks at me with a troubled expression, her big round eyes showing determination, hesitation, and a hint of fear. I smile gently, trying to ease her tension, as usual.
”Sure. Then let’s go to the nearby beach. There should be few people there at this hour, and we can talk calmly.”
It’s not a swimming spot, and I remember passing by it on the way back from the shoot at this time, with few people around. It should be a good place for the two of us to have a peaceful conversation.
I invite Toa-chan to sit on the back of the bike, and we slowly ride down the dimly lit streets, illuminated by streetlights.
By the way, Tenga-senpai isn’t just acting; he’s genuinely become Kamishiro Hajime.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.