「It’s fine for the pledges we distribute to be like this, but now it’s a question of what else we can do……」
「Nn, is it not enough to just hand these out?」
「Under normal circumstances, that might be enough, but you’re up against Hinami here……」
「Ahh, is that so.」
While cutting the printed papers into the right size for distribution, we worked out the plan.
Picking up one of the cut papers, I smiled wryly.
１．To work towards expanding the selection at the school store and cafeteria.
２．To, by way of relaxing the school rules on hairstyle and clothing,
facilitate the improvement of the life skills and independence of students.
３．To lift the restriction on access to the rooftop being limited to lunch time.
４．To, by inviting celebrities as guests to the cultural festival,
work towards improving its liveliness and spirit.
「Still, it’s become quite the alluring set of campaign pledges.」
「For sure! You’re unexpectedly baad, Tomozaki～」
Mimimi used a free hand to cover her mouth, and with a *shi shi shi*, laughed mischievously.
「Nahh, I’m merely fighting fair and square, you know.」
I spoke sincerely. This was nanashi’s playstyle. To use whatever means possible.
「I wonder?」Though taken aback, Mimimi seemed to be enjoying herself.「But, the people seeing this will really be drawn in～!」
「Well, I have the feeling about half of it will be understood as a joke anyway, though.」
「Ahaha! That’s very much the case!」
「It’s reaally bad of you to have also prepared excuses in case it gets seen by a teacher. You wicked magistrate you!」
「I, I guess!」
Mimimi laughed. The reality was that, even if the teachers were to come after us, the content had been confined to be such that the excuse ‘it’s for the liveliness of the school and convenience of the students’ would work.
「Hmm, I guess now it’s time to think about what to do next?」
「……That’s right.」I explained the plan I had worked out in advance.「In the time between now and the real speech, we need to work on establishing a difference in the number of supporters.」
The real speech. In other words, the speech addressing the entire student body. It was to happen this weekend.
Should a large gap in impression be created before that, then even if we supposed the unlikely, purely hypothetical situation in which the speech granted us an advantage, that gap would cause us to lose.
But if we were to do things normally, during the four days of election campaigning that included today, it would be difficult for Mimimi to gather more supporters than Hinami. Comparing Mizusawa and Yamashita-san, in all honesty there was too much of a difference in their oratory skills. Additionally, rather than Hinami only trying hard now, she had been gathering supporters as a result of the goodness of her starting impression and her efforts that bordered madness such as the memorization of students.
In other words, at this stage, there was an underlying gap in the party, skills learned, and attribute values.
And, it would be difficult to bridge that gap. Skills are determined by things like one’s past effort, experience, and abilities, so starting to compete now would only have about as much effect as pouring water on a hot stone. The same applied to the gap between our parties. In other words, unless we looked for someone more talented than Mizusawa at giving speeches, or someone with more likability than Hinami, that gap would not be bridged. Doing so would be difficult. Perhaps even impossible.
This overwhelming『difference in accumulations』. This was what made her Hinami Aoi.
To sum things up, NO NAME’s playstyle was a『head-on attack with an overwhelming amount of effort』.
That being the case, as for what nanashi should consider here…
──An roundabout approach, adopted under the premise that there is a clear difference in fighting power.
After getting insider information about the various clubs from the well-connected Mimimi, I planned my strategy.
And so, after Mimimi and I left the computer room, in accordance with my suggestion, we headed to the gymnasium, where the volleyball and basketball clubs were practicing. When I explained what needed to be done from here, Mimimi laughed impishly. 「As I thought, Tomozaki… you’re baad.」Not at all. In a sense, this too is a legitimate frontal attack.
We arrived at the hall. Giving the area a sweeping glance, I saw Tama-chan walking through the volleyball court with a ball in hand. That girl’s in the volleyball in spite of her tiny size, huh. Calling out to her would also be an option, but our current objective is something else, so for the time being I’ll leave things to Mimimi.
Just as we had discussed, Mimimi went over to talk to the boss-character in the boy’s basketball club. You could tell he was a riajuu from a glance, what with his ikemen-like appearance. Maintaining enough of a distance so that I wouldn’t involuntarily shrink away, I waited on standby.
「Hm? If it isn’t Mimimi. What’s up?」
The guy called Sasaki began walking off the court towards Mimimi.
「E-lec-tion campaigning, Sir!」
Mimimi put her hands on her hips and puffed out her chest. The folds radiating around her chest naturally led one’s eyes in that direction, emphasizing the large size of her bust. However, the guy called Sasaki showed no indication of looking that way. S-So this is a riajuu.
「Ahh, were you standing for election? Soo diligent～」
「I guess! Being diligent is my only merit, after all!」
I backed away slightly from this conversation unique to riajuus for which at an enigmatic timing,「Ew」made its appearance.
「Actually, I’ve come for a negotiation～」
「Yep! I’m going to implement policies that go like this, so cast an honest vote for me! Something like that?」
「Heeh. Frankly, I’m planning to vote for Aoi, though.」
「I don’t wanna heaar it～！」
Mimimi covered her ears with both hands. Each and every one of her actions and speech was executed comically.
「So, what is it? Policies, you said?」
「Yeah, yeah, shush.」
「Well, please listen up! Getting straight to the point……it’ll be along the lines of purchasing an electric ball pump, and so you may support moi, there you have it.」
As she declared this, Mimimi wore a devilish smile.
「Eh! You serious!?」
Sasaki was clearly hooked.
That’s right. An electric air pump. This was the strategy I had suggested.
To offer pledges that bring strong returns to specific club activities, and gather firm supporters.
Essentially, the buying of political votes by the inducement of profit. It’s a legitimate method.
「Veeery serious. For stimulating club activities, see! Ah, though I say that, it’s not just for the basketball club, okay? It’ll be shared with the volleyball, soccer, and handball clubs too!」
Moreover, we had chosen the item『electric ball pump』that would be able to bring about strong gains simultaneously to the four clubs that were the basketball club, volleyball club, soccer club, and handball club. Apart from being an item that could realistically be bought with only tens of thousands of yen, it’s an exceptional item allowing the chore of manually pumping up the ball to be skipped. Being able to reduce the amount of tedious work is something that would most likely be welcomed by club members.
「I’m on board with that.」
「Then may I have your clear vote! Of course, I don’t mean just you……?」
「Hahaha, okayy. An air pump, that’s a promise, right?」
「Just leave it to me!」
「Sounds great! ‘Kay then, I’ll go tell the others.」
As he spoke, Sasaki nodded in the direction of the court with. From what I could see, the basketball club seemed to have slightly under thirty members.
If eighty percent of those here were to vote for Mimimi, that would end up being twenty votes.
In this way, Mimimi quickly gathered more votes. This was partly due to the effect of the 『Buying-off by way of electric air pump』 strategy, but what played a more important role was probably Mimimi’s communication skills. Had I been the one carrying out these negotiations, I daresay that by the three Hiriajuu Principles『Gross, Disgusting, Gross Face』, the proposal would have been rejected. Even if it didn’t get rejected, being seen as an easily controlled introvert would be about the most I could manage. There was also the possibility that I would be seen as a cunning person. At the very least, I do not think that I would be favourably accepted as an accomplice in the same way that I am now. The source is my all-too familiar life.
Just as I was having these thoughts, Mimimi turned her gaze towards Tama-chan, her pupils sparkling.
「Tama～! As tiny as ever, I see～！」
Just like that, she broke into a fierce run, embracing Tama-chan in a tackle of sorts.
「Mimimi!? Hey, you can’t just enter the court like th- waa!?」
「Pardon the intruusion!」
Saying this, she lightly rolled up the shirt that Tama-chan was wearing and plunged in head-first. The heck is this person doing? Then, just like that, she popped her head out from the neckline. There were now two heads coming out of Tama-chan’s gym clothes. What is going on.
「Minmi, it’s cramped! I really don’t get you!」
「And now two are one!」
Just then, a girl from the volleyball club who appeared to be a senpai walked over with an exasperated look and sharply tapped Mimimi on the head.
「What are you up to now, Nanami?」
「I-It’s the lovely Shiori-senpai!!」
At the entrance of this girl by the name of Shiori-senpai, Mimimi’s eyes shone even brighter, attempting to turn to face her. However, having entered Tama-chan’s gym clothes, she was unable to make much progress, whispering something to the effect of「Impressive, senpai……you’ve trapped me」.
Shiori-senpai breathed a sigh, directing her gaze at Mimimi.
「You voluntarily got yourself in there, you know……」
「Ah, you’re right! Tehe!」
Saying another distinct「tehe」out loud, Mimimi pulled her head back into Tama-chan’s gym clothes and started wriggling out.
Upon her doing so, Tama-chan let out a sweet voice. Seems like Mimimi did something again.
A short while after that, with a「Puhaa!」, Mimimi re-emerged.
「The outside air is delicious!」
Mimimi spread both hands and laughed. As for Tama-chan, she was holding her stomach, aghast.
「Are, are you alright, Natsubayashi?」
Shiori-senpai called out in a worried voice to Tama-chan, who was acting strange.
「My belly button……」
「B, belly button?」
Tama-chan spoke in a quiet, humiliated voice.
「She licked my belly button.」
「Are you an idiot?!」
Reacting to Tama-chan’s words, Shiori-senpai gave Mimimi a small shove.
「I am not an idiot, senpai! For today I have come to the volleyball club bringing good tidings!」
Then, riding the momentum of the confusion, Mimimi forcefully told Shiori-senpai the same thing she had told the basketball club.
「──And so, my goal is to revitalize Sekitomo High’s club activities!」
「Fumu. ……Understood. If that’s the case, I wish to cooperate. We can’t let the track and field club hog the spotlight forever, after all.」
「Thank you very much Shiorin-senpai! Love you!」
And so, she quickly got her proposal accepted. Yep, conversations become smoother when there’s a riajuu around.
As I thought, Mimimi’s amazing. In the middle of things, juniors in the volleyball club would drop by with idolizing calls like 「Mimimi-senpai～！」「I heard you’re standing for election!」「I’m cheering for you!」. I’m not sure what to think of how she’s involved with so many people from different clubs and years.
While thinking about such things, I focused on patiently enduring the gazes of 『Who is that guy? He’s been standing there this whole time.』from the members of the volleyball club present. There’s no role for a jaku-chara here, so it can’t be helped.
Then, with our business in the gymnasium complete, Mimimi said the following to Tama-chan as we are about to leave.
「Ah, that reminds me Tama, could you try touching your back?」
「My back?……Eh.」Then, Tama-chan began to glare at Mimimi.「……Mi-n-mi～??」
With a look full of resentment, Tama-chan moved to the wall while blushing and began squirming her back against it.
「Wh, what’s going on?」
When I silently asked Mimimi about it, she responded with「It’s the magic of these fingers!」while pinching her thumb, index finger and middle finger. As for Shiori-senpai, she muttered 「At the same time as the licking, huh. What a skillful fellow.」, apparently having deduced something. It was a tone of voice that was a mix of admiration and exasperation. Come on, what’s going on?
In the end, nobody enlightened me on the truth of the situation, but after that, Mimimi and I visited the outdoor field in order to talk to the football club and handball club, and succeeded in gathering more than 100『firm supporters』in total.
We were now on the way back from school. Mimimi spoke cheerfully to me as we walked side-by-side.
「Still, that went pretty well, don’t you think? You can really do it, Tomozaki!」
「Ah, no……it wouldn’t have worked without your negotiations, Mimimi.」
Two of us, heading home from school together. Moreover, taking the same route up until the nearest station. Come to think of it, it was natural that this would happen.
It might have been the second time I would be heading home together with Mimimi, but I hadn’t mentally prepared myself.
「I wonder if this will be enough for us to put up a good fight?」
「Hmm, let me see. Well, at the very least, with this it’s not like we can’t put up a fight……I think.」
I spoke while hiding my nervousness from us going back together. Although I tried giving her an ambiguous affirmation, what was the actual situation? The total student population of Sekitomo High was just under six hundred. Having just over a hundred supporters…… in all honesty, it wasn’t enough. No, had this been a normal election that would likely have been more than enough to go on, but our opponent was Hinami. If you considered that, you could even say we were still far off the mark. Given that, what should we do……?
Nervous from the two of us returning from school together, my thoughts weren’t quite in order.
However, walking alongside her like this, despite how I myself was suffering overwhelming defeat in the game called Life, I was still the one with the taller stature and better physique. It kind of made me realize the obvious, but she’s a girl.
「Hmm? Do I see you staring? So it’s a confession after all!?」
「T-That ain’t it!」
Flustered, I tsukkomi’d. Mimimi laughed cheerfully, her bag swaying. As a result of that momentum, the strap attached to her bag also swayed.
I looked at the strap. It was a large strap, resembling a haniwa, and had a kind of strange, striped colour scheme. Was there something like this attached before? 
「Oh! What a discerning eye! It’s something I bought the other day after falling in love with it at first sight!」
The design of the strap kind of feels awfully questionable. I was stumped on how to respond.
「So how is it!? Cute, right!?」
I went 「Ehhh!?」in surprise. Th-this is cute?
Here, I recalled a method courtesy of Mizusawa that I had also previously used to mess around with Izumi.
「Nah, it’s really weird.」
「Ehh! No-no-no! It’s super cute!」
Mimimi laughed. Ooh, looks like we’ve got a good mood going again. Incredible, Mizusawa. This method has great usability.
「No, but I mean, this……looks like a haniwa, right.」
「That’s exactly what makes it cute! Jeez! So you don’t get it, huh～」
Even as Mimimi pouted at me, her tone of voice indicated she was having fun. The Mizusawa Method sure is amazing.
Not at all. But I do know for sure that this isn’t cute, okay.
「More importantly, the election! What should we do tomorrow?! Tomozaki-san the Brain!」
Just like before, Mimimi brought a hand to my mouth as if holding a microphone.
「Hmm……that’s right. What to do from here, huh……」
In order to win in this election. In order to strike the chinks in the armour of the flawless gamer NO NAME.
The essential point of this battle would be in Mimimi and Hinami’s『Difference in awareness of the match.』
To put it bluntly, this time Hinami was being careless. Though I say careless, it wasn’t some foolish carelessness of the type『There’s plenty of leeway so I can take it easy』, but rather, a valid carelessness with the meaning『Not thinking that we would fight with this much focus on winning』.
Thinking about elections normally, what a candidate should head for is to『gather more supporters』. That is why Hinami would likely expect Mimimi’s course of action to be the honest objective of『gathering more supporters』, and in fact that is what Mimimi had been doing prior myself becoming the『Brain』.
Under that assumption, if Hinami was in it to win, to her the fighting style with the highest chance of success would be to『just like Mimimi, gather as many supporters as possible』. After all, since there was an insurmountable difference in original capability and past accumulations, if she were to fight her opponent on the same stage and with the same tactics, the chances of an unexpected upset would be considerably low.
And at the moment Hinami was, by that same logic, fighting with her focus on『gathering more supporters』.
In addition, this also concurred with NO NAME’s style of a『head-on attack with an overwhelming amount of effort』.
In other words, we couldn’t win there. Hinami specialized in such a stage and strategy. We had no choice but to abandon that option.
Which is why earlier, before going to the gymnasium to buy votes, I had suggested the following to Mimimi.
「Let’s aim for fifty-five percent.」
That’s right. From the start, we would abandon any idea of『gathering more supporters』. We were practically abandoning, in advance, any possibility of obtaining votes from forty-five percent of the hundred-percent of voters. Instead, we would pump everything we had into the remaining fifty-five percent. While Hinami worked on the hundred-percent for the purpose of『gathering more supporters』, we would focus only on the fifty-five percent, and make them unwavering in their support. By fighting in this way, even with a gap in ability that almost doubled ours, we would be able to fight an even match.
And this plan was linked to our activities that made use of the『electric air pump』, targeting a specific area to great effect.
At that time, I had also explained the following.
「──When it’s simply an issue of win or lose,『100% of votes』and『51% of votes』have the same value, after all.」
In an election, you win if you secure the most votes. In other words, as far as winning and losing was concerned, once you had secured the majority vote then anything above that would only be relevant for one’s self-satisfaction.
Of course, there was no way Hinami didn’t understand this. However, she was a user of frontal attacks and would therefore avoid choosing that method. It would be a different story if she knew that Mimimi was adopting the indifferent『way of fighting that aims for fifty-five percent of the vote from the start』strategy, but she likely wasn’t considering it in the slightest.
Which is why this was an indirect method which targeted that opening. In a sense, nothing more than a surprise attack.
We wouldn’t be able to stand up to other fighting styles just by coming up with a counter-plan to Hinami’s fighting style. If Hinami were to come up with her own counter-plan to this strategy, then it would instantly collapse like a house of cards.
But I was fine with that. Something that metas the previous environment’s top meta is the current environment’s top meta. You hear about that kind of thing every day in the world of competitive gaming.
「……Heyy Tomozaki～? What’s the plan for tomorrow?」
Ah, that was bad of me. Unconsciously diving into my own world of thoughts again.
「I say that, but I wonder if it’ll be something difficult……?」
「Hmm. ……Let me think about it.」
In truth, I had already explored several options, but no method of obtaining similarly firm supporters like just now in a single day had come to mind.
「Actually though, why is it that you want to win against Aoi so much, Tomozaki?」
Suddenly, a question from Mimimi.
「Why, you ask?」While slightly confused, I replied.「……It’s the same as what I told you last time, though.」
「The thing about you liking games and getting more fired up the stronger your opponent is?」
「Yeah, well, that.」
「……Is that all?」
Mimimi took the question a step further.
Well, to be honest, that probably wasn’t all. Or rather, if my reason for wanting to win was that I liked games, then why wasn’t I regularly competing in terms of academics or sports? It certainly wasn’t a very good reason, was it.
Even Mimimi kind of had her mouth in the shape of a smile but her expression looked doubtful. Should I be frank?
If I had to say something the current low-leveled me could do, it’s saying what comes to mind exactly as it is, after all.
「……You know, I’m good at AtaFami.」
「Eh, what’s this all of a sudden?」
「No look, Hinami’s good at it too, as a matter of fact.」
「Ahh, I see!」Mimimi had a look of comprehension.「So in other words, this is about revenge against Aoi!」
I tilted my head.
「Ah, was that not it? I thought that perhaps this was all because you lost in AtaFami which you had such confidence in or something.」
「Ahh.」I smiled wryly.「That’s not it, if it’s in AtaFami, I did beat her.」
「Eh! Is that so!?」
A reaction that kind of said simply winning against Hinami in something was already deserving of surprise.
「Yeah, well. But among all the AtaFami players I’ve ever fought, Hinami was the strongest, or rather, she was the first opponent to make me think I might lose to them one day.」
Mimimi was visibly taken aback as she listened to me.
「But how should I put it, aren’t I being thrashed by Hinami in Life? No matter what I do I can’t win, and I can’t even see a future where I do win. But that’s because the main battlefield for the AtaFami player who I uniquely acknowledge, Hinami Aoi, is『Life』.」
「Ahaha, it’s just like you’re treating life like it’s a game.」
The point was that it really is a game, though.
「I guess. But I thought, if『Life』is a game, I want to try fighting against that Hinami Aoi in not just AtaFami, but also in her main battlefield『Life』. No matter how insignificant I am, I’m still a gamer after all. But I can’t win as I am right now, so……」
「Ah. ……So that’s why.」
「Yeah. I thought that if I cooperated with you, Mimimi, winning might be possible. Something like that.」
「I seee～. Well, if that’s the case I think I understand.」
I explained my motives truthfully. Things like me being Japan’s number one in AtaFami were kind of embarrassing so I left such details unsaid. Of course, that also applied to how I was getting Life lessons from Hinami.
While saying something to the effect of「Mm-hmm, that’s youth for you」, Mimimi nodded several times.
Still, she’s drawn out the conversation considerably. So this is the conversation technique of a riajuu, huh. That being the case, let’s have a go at imitation. After all, I had been ordered to steal Mimimi’s conversation techniques, and I was actually a little curious anyway.
「……How about you, Mimimi?」
「What makes you want to win against Hinami so much?」
Just like how Mimimi had done to me, I returned the question. Just as with the Mizusawa method, I think that as expected appropriation is key to conversation.
Mimimi showed a troubled smile, her eyes wandering around in space.
Ah, might I have gone too far with my learning through imitation and breached a sensitive topic?
「No, not at all, it’s fine! It’s not that big a deal, you know?」
While scratching her face, Mimimi, with the same gaze that was neither here nor there, began to speak.
「Well then, here’s a question! What is Japan’s tallest mountain!?」
For some reason, here came an unexpected, cheerful quiz. Mimimi had returned to her usual bright expression.
「A pop-quiz?」Though confused, I answered her.「That’d be Mount Fuji.」
「Correct～! Pafu pafu～!」
「Y-Yeah.」I was at a loss on how to reply.
「Okay, next question.」Mimimi smiled meaningfully.「What is the second tallest mountain in Japan?」
Mimimi stared into my eyes, sending me a gaze that was as if she was trying to assess how I felt.
「Eh, second tallest? ……What was it again? Umm……」
「Bu-buu～! Time’s up! The correct answer was～……『Kitadake』!」
Mimimi held up two fingers.
「Kitadake? ……I had no idea.」
「Right?」Mimimi laughed spiritedly.「Okay, next question! Who was the first president of America?」
I knew this one.
「That’s correct! Then ……what about the second president of America?」
Mimimi, as if testing some part of me, slowly threw the words my way.
「Um, let me see. ……Who was it again?」
「Okay, too bad～! The correct answer was John Adams! Tomozaki, is world history not your strongest subject～?」
「I, I wonder.」
I was finding it difficult to grasp the purpose of this quiz. Mimimi’s expression grew just a bit more serious than before.
「Well then, onto the next question! In the sports test in May, who was first place overall for the girls?」
Then, Mimimi smiled a gentle, meaningful smile. Hm.
「That would be Hinami, right.」
「Yep, correct. Now then.」Mimimi gently tilted her head to the side.「Do you know who was second?」
She then made eye contact with me.
「……No, I don’t know.」
「Right? To sum things up, that’s what it is! First place really stands out and becomes famous, but the moment it comes to second place! Instantly, the value drops!」
──The value drops.
At that point, I had the feeling I could guess what Mimimi wanted to tell me.
「So, the one who placed second in that sports test……」
For just an instant Mimimi’s expression appeared somewhat lonely, rigid as if taking a sharp breath, but right after that it returned to the usual smile.
「That’s right! The one in second place was none other than myself, Nanami Minami! How about that? I’m actually amazing! Did you know that?」
「I, I didn’t.」
「I thought as much! But that prett-y much sums it up. Ah, incidentally, as for studies, in the first-year end of school tests, I was always second too! Though I did drop to third and sixth place in the recent mid-term and end-of-term tests in the end～」
That surprised me. Our school was pretty high-ranked, so those achievements truly were remarkable.
「Eh, is that so? You don’t seem like it.」
Surprised, I inadvertently put my honest thoughts into words.
「Heyyy that’s rude!」*ka ka ka*, Mimimi laughed.「But you know, it’s true that everyone isn’t aware of it! That in fact myself, Nanami Minami, am one accomplished in the pen and sword with an attractive face and figure, and make for a handsome Yamato Nadeshiko boy-girl couple……」
「No wait, you’re not a handsome boy.」
「Ohh, as expected you pay attention to the details, Tomozaki! But it looks like you acknowledge the other part……how suh-weet!」
In order to be able to keep up with Mimimi’s pace, I tsukkomi’d.
Mimimi let out a big laugh, then returned to a serious expression.
「But well, that’s the story.」
Smiling faintly with her face looking down, Mimimi kicked a pebble with an *ei*.
「……Is that so.」
I hadn’t known. I hadn’t known that because of how incredibly amazing Hinami was, Mimimi was always hidden by her shadow.
I averted my eyes slightly, continuing to walk. Upon which Mimimi, with not her usual excessively bright, shining smile, but with a somewhat fleeting smile that felt like it might disappear at any moment, said the following.
「That, is why I want to win.」