Exam Battle 1 - Mako-chan's Depression

Originally appeared in Run-Run, May 1995.
Translated by Kurozuki (manga@kurozuki.com). Version 1.0, 1.97.

Do not link directly to this page. Do not redistribute this translation in any form, such as by posting it on another web site.

"I'm home! Mmm, something smells good."

"Welcome home, honey!" says Makoto. "Since today's our one year marriage anniversary, I've made all kinds of treats!"

"Oh, sounds great," says the man. "To celebrate, I brought you pink roses. But Mako-chan, I smell something burning."

"Ohh, honey, I didn't mean to overcook it. Something burning..."

Makoto wakes up and jumps to her feet.

"Oh, damn!"

She pulls a burned meatloaf out of the oven.

"Hmph. A dream."

I'm Kino Makoto. I'm 15, and in 9th grade. My hobby is shopping, and my strong point is cooking. But my weak point is...

A plane soars on television. "You too can fly JAL to Okinawa..."


She jumps behind the curtains.

Airplanes. I'm a weak girl.

"Oh, just the TV. Hehe..."

[JAL - Japan Air Lines]

The doorbell rings. She goes to the door and opens it.

Usagi stands outside with Minako, Rei, and Ami.


"Welcome!" says Makoto.

Right now we're preparing for the Hana entrance exam, to get into Hana Girls High. Starting today, we've decided to meet to study once a week under Ami-chan's guidance. This is the record of our exam battles of love and emotion!

"Wow! Jeez, Mako-chan, in the long time since we last came here, you've really made the place lovely!"

"Here, have some tea," Makoto says.

"Wow, those are cute cups!"

"Smells good," says Rei. "This herb tea?"

"Yummy!" says Usagi.

"Really?" asks Makoto. "That's camomile tea. It makes you relax. If you drink it, you can sleep soundly."

"Sleep soundly?" says Ami. "That's not good! We've had enough tea, now let's get cracking!"

The five girls sit around a table, quietly reading their textbooks.

Makoto's eyes droop.

"Hey!" she says. "Isn't it getting time for dinner?"

She brings over a tray full of food.

"Wow! Great food! That looks good."

"Was it hard to fix?"

"Well, just took one night," says Makoto.

"One night!?" says Ami. "No, Mako-chan! That'll interrupt your exam studies! Don't do that anymore."

"Okay," Makoto says. "But I just wanted to do all I could to serve all you lots of food."

A plane soars on the television. "You too can fly JAL to Okinawa..."


She jumps behind the curtains again.


"Oh, a commercial," she says. "Sorry, everyone. I can't stand the sound of planes. When I was little, my parents died in a plane crash. And so with all of you around my cooking, we're eating like a family, it makes me so happy."

The clock strikes eleven.

"Oh no! This time already?"

"Sorry for keeping you," says Makoto. "Come for tea and dinner again sometime."

The others leave.

"For tea and dinner?" says Usagi.

"Is that why we came?" says Rei.

"Come on!" says Ami. "We didn't even do half of what we planned! Next time, we need to hit the books."

Makoto looks around her shining kitchen, holding a rag.

"Well! I finally got everything done. Oh no! It's already 1 o'clock! Gotta get to sleep soon."

She gets into bed.

"From now on, we've got study meetings every week until March. But, since we've got such a great friend in Ami-chan, this exam will be a piece of cake."

Makoto looks down at her test. She scored a 40.

"Mako-chan," says Ami. "How'd you do on the test?"

Ami holds her test, with a score of 100.

"Keep trying, Mako-chan," she says.

"Yeah, I know..."

Makoto goes to the gardening club room.

"Hello..." she says.

"Hey, Mako-chan-senpai?" says one of the boys. "What's the matter? Ninth graders have the exams, so they can't do extracurricular activities."

Makoto leans against the wall. "*sniff* It's so hard, having exams."

"So?" says Unazuki. "Mako-chan, Usagi-chan, isn't it good?"

"It's sour!" they say, their lips puckered.

"That's the hibiscus tea I recommend," she says. "If you drink it while you're studying, it'll be sour and keep you awake."

"If that's true, even Ami-chan will like it!" says Makoto. "Where are they selling it?"

She takes them to a small store, called Pri-Pri.

"Wow! There's such a lovely shop in Juuban?"

"You're sold out?" asks a girl inside.

"Sorry," says the saleswoman.

"Ohh. They were supposed to be getting more in," Unazuki says. "I wonder if it's because they don't have many clerks. That's suitable."

"Instead of that," says Usagi, "Mako-chan really likes these."

"Ooh! These cushions are cute!" says Makoto. "This jewelry box is pretty! Oh, cute earrings!"

They go back to the Fruit Parlor Crown.

"Well, we're drinking tea together, and going to stores," Makoto says, "but going back to school was the most fun. But now I have to go through exams, too? Oh! I want to drink tea with everyone."

"Mako-chan!" says Unazuki. "If you get into Hana Girls High, you can do whatever you want! You can drink tea, even goofing off is okay! You have to do it!"


The doorbell rings. Usagi and the others stand outside.


"Come on in!" says Makoto.

They sit down and begin studying.

Makoto's eyes start to droop.

"Hey, everyone!" she says. "How about a little tea?"

She gets up and heads for the kitchen.

Ami grabs her. "Mako-chan," she says. "Today I brought green tea with me. I'll make the tea, so you can keep working. Don't worry about it, and solve those problems."

"But..." thinks Usagi.

"Something smells..." thinks Minako.

"Hey," says Makoto. "Isn't it about time for dinner?"

She brings out plates of food.

"Wow! All this wonderful cooking!"

"Mako-chan..." says Ami.

"Oh, I'm sorry," says Makoto. "Forgive me! I spent another night preparing food...!"

"Mako-chan!" Ami says. "Exam students have to eat Cup Ramen! If you have the time to cook, you should be working problems!"

"That's right, Mako-chan!" says Minako. "If you have this kind of nourishment while you can't even participate in clubs, you'll become a fat sailor soldier! Is that what you want to happen!?"

"A fat sailor soldier!?" Makoto says.

Ami wipes her finger across the sparkling countertop. "Mako-chan," she says. "It seems your apartment is quite clean."

"W- Well, I spent two nights cleaning..."

Ami looks around the room. "Speaking of which, it seems that there are a lot of lovely goods here, even more than before."

"Have you been loitering on the way home from school?" says Rei.

"Oops! Sorry!"

Makoto looks down. "Maybe I'll quit going to high school," she says. "I'm afraid I'm not up to studying for entrance exams. If you think you have to, it's worth thinking. It makes me want to drink tea! It makes me want to cook! It makes me want to clean! It makes me want lovely things! I'd be happy if I could just have a life loving tea, cooking, flowers, and pretty things!"

"Mako-chan," Ami says. "That is simply an escape."

Makoto collapses in shock.

Rei catches her. "Huh. She's dead."

"Come on!" Ami says. "We don't have time to be dead! Let's get cracking!"

A girl in a robe appears in front of the Pri-Pri store.

"Ehehe," she says. "I am the genius loci haunting this land. I've been in China for four thousand years. I'm Touhiichan." She smells the air. "Mmm. Sweet. Filled with the spirit of sugar. This shop has lots of young, escaping game. Using this spirit of sugar, I can gather more and more escaping kiddies."

[Touhiichan - I'm guessing it's a name formed from the word 'touhi,' meaning 'escape.']

Makoto looks down at her test. She scored a 50.

"Mako-chan!" says Usagi. "You did it! You raised your score."

"Thanks, but it was only by ten points..."

She walks home from school.

"Oh... I raised my score, but... I'm not happy. I feel weak, too. Oh, I want to stop on the way home, have some tea. I want to look at lovely things. But I have to go straight home, and study."

A fragrance wafts through the air.

"I wonder what that is... Smells good. Oh, I can't stop my legs..."

She passes the Pri-Pri store.

"What!? A sale!?"

She goes inside.

"Welcome!" says Touhiichan. "Thank you for your patronage."

"A sale, a sale!" says Makoto.

"You're in luck! Today you can buy lots on sale! We have a special herb tea, Chinese scones, and brownies. Buy now, and they're 100 yen for a set!"

"No way!" says Makoto. "I'm sold!"

"Thank you very much."

"Ami-chan, you're way too strict," Usagi says.

"As Shakespeare says," says Ami, "'Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.' We must not fear learning! So we can all enter high school together, we will study!"

"But as Bacon says," says Rei, "'To spend too much time in studies is sloth.'"

"Is she talking about the bacon you eat?" think Usagi and Minako.

Rei's eyes widen.

"An evil spirit!" she says. She points to the store. "There's a suspicious fragrance coming from that shop! Everyone looks strange!"

"That shop!" says Usagi. "Mako-chan goes there a lot!"

Makoto sits at the table, wolfing down the food she bought.

"Ahh..." she says. "This is so good. Cake with tea... I'm happy. I'm fine like this, even if I become a fat sailor soldier, even if I don't get into high school..."

"Mako-chan!?" says Usagi.

Makoto collapses on the floor.

"The evil spirit!?" says Rei.

"Oh no! Mako-chan!?"

The spirit appears. "I am the genius loci, Touhiichan," she says. "I have filled her body with my sugar spirit."

"An enemy!?" says Rei.

Usagi holds on to Makoto.

"You can't diiie!" she says. "Mako-chaaan! We're going to get into Hana Girls High, and go to Shibuya, and play on the way home, and have parties, and get boyfriends! We're going to get into Hana Girls High, Mako-chan!"

[Shibuya is a big shopping district.]

Makoto's eyes open. "Right," she says. "You're right! Jupiter Planet Power! Make Up!!" She transforms. "I can't die until I do all I can to get into Hana Girls High, and goof off going home, and have tea! Jupiter Coconut Cyclone!"

The spirit is destroyed.

"You did it, Jupiter!" says Usagi.

"Of course!" Makoto says. "They can't beat me."

Her eyes spin, and she collapses again.


"Since I've beaten the enemy," she says, "now my exam is complete..."

"Jupiterrr!" says Ami. "Even if you beat an enemy, you still have studying to do!"

"Mmmm..." Makoto says as she closes her eyes. "Honey... For celebrating my admission into high school, I'd like a rose-shaped ring..."

And then, spring.

A photo shows Makoto in her new uniform, in front of Juuban High School.

Ami's Shakespeare quotation is from 2 Henry VI, Act IV, Scene VII.
Rei's Bacon quotation is from The Essays, "Of Studies."

Do not link directly to this page. Do not redistribute this translation in any form, such as by posting it on another web site.

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