Volume 8 Chapter 22 Shirogane Aqua, the Legendary Telephone Shock!
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
It’s okay to laugh! It’s a super long-running show that’s been on air since decades before I was born, and I, the guest on their famous segment, Telephone Shock, was waiting backstage.
The audience responded to the host Morita-san’s greeting. Unlike the usual “Good afternoon” greeting, today’s show had a “Good evening” greeting due to the evening broadcast time.
”It’s hot today, isn’t it?”
From here, the usual exchanges began. In “It’s okay to laugh!” it’s considered customary for the audience to respond with “That’s right” to Morita-san’s stories before the weekly guest is introduced.
”Why is it so hot in the studio today? We’re already halfway through October, aren’t we?”
Morita-san opened and closed her jacket while fanning herself. It does feel a bit hot and humid, maybe because there are so many people in the audience?
”Oh, AD-san? Please turn up the air conditioning.”
Morita-san raised her hand and called an assistant director (AD) to adjust the air conditioning. Morita-san… you should have done that during the commercial break. Though I’m not going to make such a clumsy retort.
”Huh? What’s that? Instead of talking about trivial matters, let’s get on with it. Yes, yes, I understand.”
That “That’s right!” just now sounded unusually forceful, or is it my imagination?
”So, today’s guest is this person. Shirogane Aqua, please.”
I walked from backstage to the stage and approached the audience. The audience seating is known to be very close for this show, but it’s unbelievably close. It’s rare to appear on a show with the audience so close like this. I walked to the front right side from my perspective, high-fiving a girl who reached out her hand.
”Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!”
Continuing that flow, I high-fived the girl at the far left and then shook hands with the one I couldn’t high-five properly in the middle. Afterward, I turned to the grinning Morita-san and gave a slight nod.
”Thank you, thank you, for having me today.”
”Uhehehe, you’re as energetic as ever! By the way, how have you been lately? Yesterday when I called, it seemed like you were on your lunch break. Is school fun?”
I placed the nameplate I was holding on the table. Besides my name, the nameplate also had Beryl Entertainment’s name on it.
”That’s right. I have many nice classmates, teachers, and seniors, so thanks to them, school life is enjoyable. Oh, by the way, take a look at this.”
I handed Morita-san a poster.
”Hey, put this up.”
Morita-san called an AD who came from backstage to take the poster. The ADs skillfully pasted the poster on the wall.
”Especially from the beginning of the week, our class have to start preparing seriously for the weekend cultural festival, and I’m really looking forward to that.”
”Oh, a cultural festival. Are you doing anything, Aqua-kun?”
”Oh, yes. Actually, we’re planning to run a cosplay cafe as our class’s contribution to the festival.”
”A cosplay cafe!? Are you going to cosplay too, Aqua-kun?”
”Of course. We will sit at the tables of the customers and serve them.”
The maid cafe idea I suggested was named a cosplay cafe due to the inconvenience of explaining the host concept to teachers and others during the preparations.
”That’s right. I’m also in the tea ceremony club and drama club, so I plan to participate in their events as well.”
”Wow, you’re really something, aren’t you? Take a break once in a while. Life is all about slacking off.”
”Haha, thank you.”
By the way, in the tea ceremony club, I’m planning a spontaneous tea ceremony with Shintaro. In the drama club, I’ll perform a play in the gym with Toa.
”By the way, what’s this poster for?”
”Oh, this is for an upcoming Halloween event.”
The poster featured the four of us in various poses.
I’m still not sure what costume I’ll wear for the event since I’m wearing a cape, but I plan to change costumes during the event more than in the cosplay cafe.
”Can I have one of these posters?”
”Of course. If you’d like, I can even sign it for you.”
”Really? Someone, bring me a pen!”
An AD rushed from backstage with a pen in hand. I gave a slight nod and quietly thanked her.
”No, no, this is also part of the job! See, it’s work. Hehehe. Oh, Aqua-kun, that goes to Morita Kazumi-san over there, please.”
”It’s not ‘no.’ This is work, you know… Take it home, put it in a frame, and hang it up.”
As expected of Morita-san. Even while I’m signing, she keeps the audience engaged to avoid boredom. After finishing the signatures, I handed the pen back to the AD and scanned the audience before speaking.
”Do you all really want this poster so much?”
”I see… but I only brought this one because it’s quite large.”
”But, in exchange, today I brought mini posters of this with my signature for everyone, so don’t forget to pick them up from the staff before you leave.”
”Haha, did you all think I didn’t bring them? There’s no way that’s true. They have signatures from not just me but also Tenga-senpai, Shintaro, and Toa, so take good care of them.”
I waved to everyone in the audience. Morita-san, without missing a beat, shifted her gaze toward the congratulatory flower arrangement in the back.
”By the way, there are so many flowers here. This is amazing; our station’s top brass. I’ve been doing this program for a long time and this is the first time I’ve seen a wreath of congratulations from Fuji Ranko, the president of Fuji Zaibatsu (conglomerate).”
”Ranko-san and I often chat since Beryl is in the same building as Fuji’s headquarters. Just the other day, I bumped into her at the cafe in the building, and she treated me to a pudding parfait.”
”President Ranko is like that. Once you run into her, she won’t let you leave without treating you. I told her I had just eaten sushi, but she still insisted on treating me. I’m so stuffed.”
”Hahaha, I understand. But we’re all growing, so it’s much appreciated.”
By the way, from Ranko-san, I received a chocolate banana parfait on a previous encounter, and when the four of us met, she treated each of us to pancakes.
”Other than that, we’ve received flowers from Corolle Group’s main office too and also from Morinaga… Merry-san!?”
”We’ve worked together in a commercial. I don’t know where it’s going to be broadcast later, but during today’s show, a new campaign commercial is going to start. We’re planning to do something that can’t compare to summer, so I’d be happy if everyone applies for it.”
I’m not sure if it’s during or after the telephone shock, but the Christmas campaign for winter is scheduled to start today.
”Oh, and we received flowers from your mom as well. Marin-san is famous as a flower teacher, and she’s sent flowers to this show several times.”
”…Yeah, I’m happy, but it’s a little embarrassing.”
When I made an embarrassed gesture, someone from the audience told me not to be embarrassed. I haven’t experienced this in my past life or this life, but maybe this is what it feels like when your mother comes to a school open house. It tickled my sense of embarrassment just as much.
”As for the others, we have Director Hongou, Yakumo Itsuki-sensei, Hakuryuu Aiko-sensei, MojaP-san, Nobu-san, Kobayakawa Yuki, and Kuga Reira… Oh, and we received something from Mishu-sama too. By the way, I’ve been wanting to ask this for a while, but have you been told that you resemble Mishu-sama?”
”Oh… I have been told by a few people. Do I really look that much like her?”
”When I’m talking casually or singing, I don’t think you look like her at all, but during intense performances, the atmosphere becomes, well, exactly like Mishu-sama. I’m actually a big fan of Mishu-sama. I realized the resemblance right away.”
”Hahaha, I’m glad you say that. Being compared to a world-renowned actress like Mikuni-san is something to be proud of. But, I still have a long way to go in my acting. Even on the set of the Monday 9 PM drama, Yukari-senpai gave me quite a hard time.”
In reality, there were times when my acting couldn’t keep up with Yukari-senpai’s, and I felt down several times. Each time, she didn’t directly teach me anything, but she invited me for meals or initiated small conversations, which I believe contributed to my growth.
”Speaking of Kohina Yukari-san, you have a message from her.”
I sat down as prompted by Morita-san.
’Um, for Nii-sama. I heard from Rina that she’s planning something interesting for the cultural festival, so I’ll be visiting. Also, I’d like to give Rina a ticket to the Halloween concert in return, so can you arrange it for the two of us…’
”Hahaha… Seriously? Alright, I’ll do my best. I think there might still be seats for the staff, but I can’t guarantee it because I’m not sure myself. It’s a live broadcast, after all.”
I glanced at the backstage area briefly. Ako-san was holding up a sign above her head, so I think it should be okay, but it’s better to mention it because it’s a live show.
”Well then, I’ve been hosting this show for a long time, but in the long history of Telephone Shock, today is the first time we’ve had a male guest. It’s not that we haven’t considered it before, there have been discussions a few times. So, both the audience and viewers, do you understand that this is something incredible?”
”I’m honored. I never imagined I’d be a guest on such a legendary segment like ‘It’s okay to laugh!’”
When I responded this way, Morita-san raised her sunglasses and looked across the audience, a smile forming on her face.
”Did everyone hear that? You see, I can say things like this here. The secret of this person’s popularity, you see, is that from today, everyone on the show’s staff, from the producer down to the lowest-ranking member, won’t be able to sleep with their feet pointing towards Kohina Yukari, who invited Aqua-san.”
”Haha, Yukari-san would probably hate that.”
”Yeah, that’s why I said it on purpose.”
Morita-san’s comeback made both the audience and me burst into laughter. Although she’s not here, it’s apparent that Morita-san keeps up the playful spirit of the show that characterizes it.
”By the way, you brought something today, right?”
”Yes. I brought a few things today. I asked my sister—No, one of our company employees prepare them from home.”
”I see. Did you all hear that? Aqua-kun calls her sister ‘Onee-chan’ instead of ‘Onee-san.’”
”Do you need that information!?”
I handed the Beryl Entertainment paper bag with souvenirs to Morita-san. She opened it and grinned.
”Huh? Wait a minute, isn’t this…?”
The first item Morita-san took out of the paper bag was merchandise that had been pre-sold at the pop-up shop.
”I remember you saying you couldn’t buy this before, so I rummaged through the company’s warehouse today and brought it for you.”
”Are you sure about this?”
”Of course. But that’s not the main thing.”
”Hmm, what’s this?”
Next, Morita-san took out a large vinyl record. This was created as a joke, as there were only five copies made when I covered “Maiden’s Heart,” considering that the original song was from the 1980s. Therefore, it’s rarely found in circulation.
”Morita-san, you’re close to people like Tamaki-san, who sang ‘Maiden’s Heart,’ right? So I thought, how about this? I asked my sister to bring the one we had at home.”
”Huh? Is this okay? Isn’t it a non-sale item?”
”It’s a non-sale item. Other than this, there’s probably one at Moja-san’s place, one at Yakumo Itsuki-sensei’s place, and one each stored at President Ako’s place and the company. So, there are only five of these in the world.”
”…I’m thinking of quitting my job now. Selling this could probably sustain me for life.”
”Hey, hold on a minute! You can’t sell that!! I brought it here with care; please keep it safe for at least a year.”
Morita-san’s joke made the audience laugh. Well, if I received gifts almost every day, I’d run out of places to put them.
”No, really, thank you for all of this. Please take it to the dressing room.”
Morita-san put the items back into the paper bag and handed it to the AD.
”So, how’s it going? Have you gotten used to this job?”
”Yes, thanks to everyone, it’s been about six months since April.”
”Ah, I see. It’s only been half a year, huh? I actually thought you’d been in this industry for two or three years, considering all the mishaps you’ve had.”
”I’m sorry. To be honest, both Toa and others often say that to me. I don’t really realize it myself, but apparently, I unintentionally cause various incidents. Just the other day, I got scolded by my wife.”
”Huh? Your wife, isn’t that Her Highness Kanon… I mean, now it’s Kanon-sama, right? What did she scold you for?”
”Well, you see, we just started living together five days ago. That morning, Kanon-san was in front of the bathroom mirror. She looked so cute that I couldn’t help but hug her from behind and say ‘good morning.’ But I got scolded for giving her a big shock before saying anything!”
I mean, come on, it’s difficult not to be taken aback when men see a vulnerable side of the girl they love, especially one they don’t normally see. For a moment, I even misunderstood and thought she was trying to invite something. Her camisole strap was hanging off one shoulder, and the hem was rolled up, revealing her underwear. As a man, it’s hard to resist. But, I regret going overboard and kissing Kanon on the back of her neck. That was a mistake.
”Well, I see. That’s Aqua-kun’s fault. Girls aren’t used to that kind of thing, and they don’t expect it, you know?”
”Ah, I see. That makes sense.”
”By the way, have you done anything else unintentionally, perhaps with your family? I heard a bit about your sister earlier, but I have a feeling you’ve unintentionally done something to your family.”
”My family? Well… come to think of it, recently, my little sister, who’s in the second year of middle school, is going through a rebellious phase.”
”A rebellious phase?”
”Yes, before I got married, I used to live at my parents’ house. At first, I would dry her hair, tie it up, trim her nails, clean her ears, give her foot massages, and stuff like that. But towards the end, she started getting embarrassed and didn’t let me do those things anymore. It’s sad.”
My statement left Morita-san and everyone in the venue, including the audience, the staff, and even Ako-san stunned. Hey, are you all okay? This is live, you know?
”No, well… I’m surprised beyond imagination. Even I, Morita, who’s quite experienced, am thoroughly surprised by this. I’ve never heard of such a story!”
Morita-san’s words made the revived audience nod vigorously.
”Even if we generously agree… no, even if generously agree that it’s okay to dry her hair and do her hair, it’s still strange. But, you know, cleaning her ears? Foot massages? What are you planning to do with your little sister, Aqua-kun?”
”No, I’m just showing her some affection. When I clean her ears, I put her head on my lap, and she looks like a cute little kitten.”
The audience responded with a loud, collective scream that was probably the loudest of the day.
”Is this really bad?”
”Yeah, it’s bad. After hearing that, I couldn’t bear to hear about the foot massages. You might even run afoul of the broadcasting code.”
Huh? Isn’t this just caring for your little sister’s skin after a bath? It’s not like I’m doing anything weird.
”Well, then, I wanted to hear about your conversation with Tenga-senpai, who was absent when we called Nekoyama Toa and Mayuzumi Shintaro yesterday.”
”Well, about Tenga-senpai…”
As I was speaking, a suddenly incredibly cool guitar sound filled the studio.
”Wait a momentttttt!”
In response to the familiar voice, not just me, but also Morita-san and everyone in the audience sitting in the venue reacted.
The entrance to the audience area burst open, and Tenga-senpai appeared, dashing towards the stage.
”We love you, Tenga-kunnnnnnnn!”
I was taken by surprise by this unexpected surprise. Tenga-senpai came up on stage and stood next to me and Morita-san, who was sitting in a chair.
”I have come here today to make one thing clear to my junior!”
”Yes, and why did you come here for that?”
”Don’t you know that already? Isn’t it terrible that I was the only one who didn’t appear last time?”
”But, senpai, you go to a different school… and aren’t you in college?”
I replied, and Tenga-senpai looked up at the sky, holding back tears.
”My junior is so cold-hearted…”
”Come on, Tenga-kun, you can do it!”
”Aqua-kun, please be nice to senpai once in a while!”
”Maybe just once a year?”
Once a year? That would mean even less attention than now…
”Senpai, I didn’t hear this before, and I see Ako-san backstage panicking. So, how did you get here today? And what about permission to appear? It’s not good to just show up like this.”
”I came here on my bike by myself! As for appearing on the show, I arranged it through my manager with the program. So, the producer has already approved it, so don’t worry. And if I tell the company president, it might get back to my junior. Instead, Kirika-san, the supervising manager, knows about it, so it’s fine.”
Tenga-senpai received a sign from one of the ADs and showed it off to the camera and the audience.
[Hidden Camera Success]
I see, they set up a hidden camera for my reaction. The camera captured my wry smile.
”Hey, Akira-kun, it’s been a while.”
”Long time no see, Morita-san.”
After Morita-san shook hands with Tenga-senpai, she made a gesture of looking at her watch.
”Listen, Akira-kun, I’m sorry to have you here, but we’re running out of time.”
”In other words, this segment is already over, and we have to move on to the next one. Look at the cue card, it says ‘End of Segment. Go to Break.’”
Tenga-senpai bent over and squinted at the cue card.
”Well, that’s the situation. Thank you, though.”
”Thank you. Tenga-senpai.”
So, Morita-san and I tried to wrap up the segment.
”No, no, no, I came all the way here, so I want to do something before I leave.”
”Well, Akira-kun, it’s a bit late. We’re running out of time. But you can do something about five minutes.”
”5 minutes!? W-what should I do? Do you have any ideas, junior?”
”Well, there’s no helping it… Alright, how about singing a song?”
The audience erupted with the loudest cheer of the day.
”Alright! If that’s the case, leave it to me!”
Several ADs rushed onto the stage from the wings and set up instruments at lightning speed. Ah, I see, they were well-prepared. As evidence, Morita-san, who was sitting next to me, was grinning. Even I, who is a bit slow, could guess what would happen next.
”Come on, juniors!”
Tenga-senpai raised his guitar, and Toa, and Shintaro appeared on the front stage wing.
”Hey everyone! We got worried, so we decided to join Aqua and Tenga-senpai!”
”Oh, thanks for yesterday, Morita-san.”
As they performed energetically towards the excited audience, Shintaro politely greeted Morita-san, unaffected by the excitement. Maybe that’s what struck Morita-san’s funny bone; she started laughing and patting my shoulder. Yeah, I had a hunch, albeit a vague one, that Morita-san liked Shintaro.
”So, what are we going to sing?”
”Well, it has to be that one, right? The song from the Monday 9 PM drama.”
”Wait, the intro is quite long, is that okay?”
”Don’t worry, don’t worry. If anything happens, Aqua-kun can ask President Ranko for forgiveness. After all, this corner after this is more like a bonus.”
”Is this really okay? Well, I guess the details don’t matter. Alright, let’s sing. We’ll perform ‘Phantom Requiem’ from ‘My Honor Student Big Brother,’ which aired on the Monday 9 PM drama.”
While the intro of this song was long, once we started singing, it wasn’t that long. Ayana and Yukari’s lines were covered by Toa, and we completed the song.
”Wow, that was amazing. Live music is really great, isn’t it? Thank you so much for today.”
”No, thank you for letting us sing.”
”Now, for our final act, shall we have the audience participate in a 108-person survey?”
The “108-person survey” involved asking the 108 people in the audience a question, and if the number the guest predicted matched the actual number, they would win show merchandise.
”Oh, what question should we ask? It should be related to the drama since we’re here… Oh, I know! How many people here currently have a big brother?”
”Aqua, if you ask that, the answer will either be 1 or 0.”
”And it’s probably closer to 0.”
”In that case, how about asking if anyone wants a big brother like Satou Kazuya… no! Shirogane Aqua?”
”Tenga-senpai, if you say that, and there are 0 or just a few, I’ll be so embarrassed!”
”””””””””That’s not true.”””””””””
Whoa, that was surprising. Earlier, it seemed like the voices from the audience, Toa, Shintaro, and even Tenga-senpai, were overlapping with Morita-san’s voice. But maybe that was just my imagination.
”Alright, let’s go with that. How many people?”
”Huh? Won’t it be hard to get all 108 votes?”
”Great idea, Aqua-kun. In fact, this program haven’t had a full 108 votes yet. Why don’t you give it a shot?”
”Really… Alright then. I predict 108! Let’s aim for full votes!”
”Yes, is everyone ready? If you want a big brother like Shirogane Aqua, say ‘yes’! Ready?”
We all stared at the digital display board showing the numbers. A few seconds later, as 108 lit up on the board, the cheers from the audience filled the studio.
”We did it!”
I might have pressured them into voting, but since this was a special episode, I hope they’ll forgive me. The four of us celebrated by putting our arms around each other.
”Congratulations. You’ll each receive a pen as a prize to take home.”
””””Thank you very much!””””
”Well, it’s unfortunate, but that’s the end of the show. Can you introduce the next guest?”
While the program had some preparations, I was given the opportunity to choose someone I really liked to call. Despite having fewer connections in the entertainment industry, I wanted to do something here. Ideally, it would be someone who hadn’t been on the show yet, and I wanted to do something new.
”Will the call even connect, I wonder? I actually haven’t told the person yet.”
”Who are you calling?”
”Well, that’s a surprise for when they pick up.”
The ringing tone on the earpiece suddenly stopped.
From the very first word, it was a dignified voice that made me sit up straight involuntarily.
”Hello, it’s been a while. This is Shirogane Aqua.”
’Oh, what’s wrong? Did my granddaughter do something naughty again?’
The audience, Shintaro, Tenga-senpai, and even Ako-san in the backstage area seemed stunned, but Toa quickly realized what was happening and shot me a look as if to say, “You’re calling someone incredible.”
”No, it’s not that. Actually, I have a small favor to ask of my esteemed grandmother…”
”Huh!? You’re okay with it without even knowing the reason for my request?”
’Of course. After all, you’re my cute granddaughter’s husband and my knight.’
By this point, even the slowest person would have realized. The audience erupted, and not only Sintaro and Tenga-senpai, but also the staff and Ako-san who were offstage, panic.
’Oh! But if you don’t mind, I’d like something in return. Do you still have those records you gave to Morita-san? I think there was one left in the warehouse.’
”If you’re okay with something like that, then by all means, you can have as many as you want. We only have one left in storage, though.”
’Hehe, of course they come with your signature, right?’
Alright, the negotiation for the compensation has been successfully settled. Next, it’s time to request the appearance on the show.
”I remember the last time we talked; you mentioned you’d be coming to this country starting next week.”
’Yes, of course. I’m going to your school’s cultural festival, and I’ll visit your new home too. I’m looking forward to it.’
”So, if it’s alright with you, there’s a TV show called ‘It’s okay to laugh!’ that I’d like to invite you to. Grandmother, you’re quite popular in this country, and I thought it would be great if you could join us.”
’Oh, ‘It’s okay to laugh!’ I know it. Yakumo Itsuki-sensei appeared on it a while ago.’
At this point, I handed the phone over to Morita-san.
Huh…? Somehow, I felt a slight sense of unease just now… Well, maybe it’s just my imagination.
”Hello, I’m Morita Kazumi, and I work on a TV show called ‘It’s okay to laugh!’ Are you Her Majesty the former Queen Mary, by any chance?”
’Yes, that’s correct. Today, my knight is under your care.’
”Oh no, not at all. But Your Majesty, I’m surprised you know about Yakumo-sensei. That’s quite impressive.”
’Yes, we’re pen pals. So, please allow me to connect her to the next call.’
”Oh… Really? It seems like you’re quite familiar with the show… Thank you very much. Shall we proceed with the final call?”
”Great. So, would it be possible for you to visit the studio the day after tomorrow?”
”Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Morita-san bowed slightly over the phone.
’Don’t mention it. If anything happens, don’t hesitate to call me.’
I hung up the phone here. Then, there was a moment of silence between Morita-san and me as we exchanged glances.
”You know, this is unbelievable. I’ve been doing this show for so long, but today is the first time I’ve felt so nervous.”
”Surprised? This is the real surprise. Just kidding.”
”Really, this is why Beryl is ahhhh! Alright, it’s time for a commercial break!”
With the word “cut,” the tension in the studio abruptly dissipated, and there was a buzz of activity.
”Thank you for today.”
”No, thank you. Be careful on your way home.”
”Yes, thanks, everyone!”
”Thank you very much.”
”See you later!”
Since there was limited time for commercials, we hurriedly cleared the set. And that’s how I successfully finished my first live appearance on a variety show.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.