Welcome to Eitoku Academy. For the children of the rich and powerful, this school provides an elite academic and social environment from Kindergarten through the university level. The grounds are lush and extensive, with lots of places to sit or stroll quietly or relax with friends. It is late spring, and a few months into the school year.
Makino Tsukushi arrives at school on foot amidst chauffeur-driven limos and expensive cars. She wears a plain bag and the school uniform (light-colored blazer and blouse, patterned skirt). Her only friend at this school, Makiko, joins her and they proceed to class. Makiko is nice, but she has the habit of fawning over the richer, charismatic students at school, especially the girls of their class. Tsukushi tags along with her friend, but feels out of place, having arrived only last year (after excelling on the entrance examination). She generally tries to maintain a low profile and does not usually join her classmates' conversations or activities. Even if she wanted to keep up with the other students' spending habits, her family's middle-class income and her own after-school job don't really provide spare money.
In class, yet another student has fallen victim to the negative attention of the 'F4' group. Tsukushi's and Makiko's classmate, Kimoto, has been tormented to his breaking point since finding a 'red ticket' from the 'F4' in his locker some time ago. As he quietly packs up his desk, Makiko stops Tsukushi from assisting or comforting the boy to prevent her from incurring the wrath of the 'F4'. Their classmates chatter to each other about the scandal, and discuss the cool (lit. kakkoi), although "psycho", boys of the 'F4'. Hanazawa Rui is handsome and popular as a crush-magnet (ed.), while the leader, Doumyouji Tsukasa, is the son of arguably the leading businessman in Japan. The admiration is thick, although even these students admit that they are terrified of receiving the same treatment as their departed classmate.
Dismayed by the casual, heartless attitude of her classmates, including Makiko, Tsukushi flees the scene and seeks outlet for her rage at the situation. Coming across an emergency exit stairway, she rushes to the railing and shouts insults to the sky. To her surprise, she is answered by a handsome, though scruffy-looking, boy sitting further down the staircase. He only says 'Cool' (lit. sugoi), and appears shocked, yet somehow impressed.
That evening, we learn about Tsukushi's family. Her mother (Mama) is hard-working and concerned chiefly about keeping the family afloat in both money and reputation. Her pride in her daughter's accomplishments is expressed by her joy at topping the other mothers in their social circle. Her father (Papa) is prone to sudden outbursts, as though he is always shocked once he catches up to the conversation. He works outside the home somewhere in a steady office job (ed.). Tsukushi has a brother who is mentioned, but not seen at this time. The fact that Tsukushi goes to the prestigious Eitoku Academy is very important to her family, although the social opportunities are perhaps more important to them than the academic ones.
The next day at school, Tsukushi is assisting some students from another class in cleaning the halls and has another indirect encounter with the 'F4' group. One of the cleaners has attracted the attention of Doumyouji, leader of the 'F4', and despite repeated apologies, Doumyouji forces the other student to grovel at his feet. Once the game is over, Doumyouji kicks over a full wastebasket and leads his crew away. Tsukushi is in shock already, but she is surprised to see one of the four boys turn around and pick up the basket. As he rises, their eyes meet, and they recognize each other from the staircase scene of the day before. The boy is Hanazawa Rui. Embarrassed, Tsukushi turns away and says nothing.
In the afternoon, working with a friend at the sweet-shop (Yuuki), Tsukushi discusses the strange dealings of the mysterious '4 Flowers' group. She belittles their leader Doumyouji for his tough attitude and dreadlocked hair (lit. Reggae-style). Her friend is besotted with romantic notions and wants to see the intriguing group of high-society boys, in part as a change from the ordinary boys of her own high school. Tsukushi cannot understand such a desire, since she sees the boys as a group of childish troublemakers with strange ideas of fun. But even as she says this, she remembers Hanazawa Rui and his strange act of kindness.
|Main Page||Chapter 2|