Exam Battle 2 - Ami-chan's First Love

Originally appeared in Run-Run, July 1995.
Translated by Kurozuki (manga@kurozuki.com). Version 1.01, 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 Mizuno Ami. I was born on September 10th. I'm a Virgo, and my blood type is A. I live with my mother in a condominium in Azabu Juuban. My routine is to get to school every morning 40 minutes before it starts, and read a book. My hobbies are reading and chess. My favorite color is aquamarine. My favorite food is sandwiches, because I can read while I'm eating them. My favorite sport is swimming, and my favorite subject is math. And my least favorite thing is...

Ami opens her locker and finds an envelope sealed with a heart. She picks it up, and sees it's addressed to her.


Love letters.

Her face turns bright red.

"Oh nooo!" she cries. "Ick!"

She tosses the letter away.

"Ami-chan!?" says Usagi. "What's wrong!? You look..."

"Nothing," Ami says, her face still flushed. "I got a rash this morning. I wonder if it's stress building up."

The more I call it a weak point, the more I think there's no reason for me to get them. (In fact, this is the third one.) As soon as I get a love letter, these symptoms appear all over my body. First, I feel embarrassed. Second, disbelief. I don't deserve a love letter. And third, I guess it's refusal I feel. In this important time in ninth grade, there's only one thing I should have a passion for: Studying! I don't know the meaning of the word 'love' now!

"Ack!!" Ami exclaims.

"Wh- What's wrong, Ami-chan!?" asks Rei.

"What is it this time?" says Usagi.

Ami is reading a magazine. "Him again!" she says. She shows the others. "I've come across this person's name a lot lately in the mock exams at the prep school. Without fail, he always gets the same ranking as me."

The paper reads:

1. Mercurius - 500
1. Mercury - 500
2. Mr. Boo - 497
3. Hanako - 493

[and so on...]

"Mercury?" asks Usagi. "Mercurius? Those are names??"

"Pseudonyms," says Ami. "You register a name you like, and you can take the test using it. It's originally a correspondence course system."

"So Mercury must be your pseudonym?"

"Right," she says. She thinks, "This name 'Mercurius' has appeared in various publishers and prep schools' mock exams nationwide. He always gets a perfect score and keeps first place."

Usagi looks through the magazine.

"Which one, which one?" says Makoto. "First place is Mercury, with 5-subject composite score of 500. Five hundred!? Perfect in every subject again!?"

"Don't you ever get tired of perfect scores?" asks Rei.

"Studying for the exams is fine," says Makoto, "but I need change of pace once in a while. Tomorrow, we're all going to a sale in Harajuku. Ami-chan, you wanna come too?"

"Sorry," says Ami. "I'm thinking of taking a mock exam tomorrow, too."

"She takes tests more often than she goes out with her friends..."

"That's right," Ami thinks. "There's a reason I want to take exams even if I betray my friends now. It's because I'm worrying about that person. Oh! Here he is again. Same score, same ranking. Mercurius... Latin for 'Mercury.' Besides him being in a Tokyo junior high, I don't know anything about him. Worry, worry, worry... (He might be an enemy.)"

She looks at a poster on the wall. "There's another mock exam. On a poster for a new prep school... Wonder what I should do. Mercurius is probably going to take this exam too. I have to take it! Yes. He (or she) should be going to prep schools and cram schools. I might have already met him at an exam or prep school without knowing it... I wonder what kind of person it is. Yes. Now, when I take all these mock exams and go to all these prep school, I might be able to meet him...! Somehow I'll do it! Having a rival would be wonderful! Now! I've got tests to take, prep schools to go to! I have to apply!"

Ami sits in the park, reading.

"Hasn't Ami-chan looked worn out lately?" says Rei.

"It's only natural," says Minako. "On top of cram school and prep school, she takes a mock exam every Sunday."

"What!?" says Usagi. "Why would she do something like that!?"

They all pause.

"It's that Mercurius-sama..."

A few days later.

"Oh!" Ami says. "Again!"

She's looking at a paper showing her tied for first place with Mercurius in another exam.

"This is it! Same score, same ranking. It's a miracle! He might be an enemy after all."

"Since they both always get perfect scores," thinks Makoto, "of course they always get first place."

"But this person must really be amazing," says Ami. "Keeping on top for this long. I wonder what kind of person it is. I want to meet him."

"Ami-chan," says Minako. "You look like you're in love."

"He (or she) is the rival I've wanted!" Ami says.

"That's right," says Usagi. "We don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl."

"Say, Ami-chan," says Minako. "What kind of guy is your ideal man? Like, name a celebrity."

"My ideal man," says Ami. "That would be... Probably Einstein-sama, of the special theory of relativity."

"Who's that?" says Usagi.

Rei rolls her eyes.

"Come on, let's go," says Minako.

Usagi, Makoto, Rei, and Minako sit around a table at the Crown Fruit Parlor.

"Her ideal was kind of high, but that's the first time I've seen Ami-chan like that."

"Same here!"

"Seeing her face so flushed, and her eyes twinkling," says Makoto.

"And with such high tension..." thinks Usagi. "Could this be... Ami-chan's first love!?"

"Come on!" says Minako. "Let's take a shot here, and help Ami-chan out!"

She begins to take off her shirt.

Makoto grimaces. "That's enough..."

[In Japanese, 'lend (a helping hand)' and 'take off (clothing)' use the same verb...]

"We'll find out!" Minako continues. "What kind of person this Mercurius-sama is! With Ami-chan feeling like this, her scores will go down!"

"I think it would be more distracting to Ami-chan when she finds out we're doing this," says Rei.

"So how are we going to find him?" says Usagi.

"I got it!" Minako says. "Ami-chan must be on Paso-Tsuu! Wouldn't Mercurius-sama be on it too?"

[Paso-Tsuu < Pasokon Tsuushin, a Japanese online service like CompuServe or America Online. (lit. 'personal computer communication'.)]

"So we'll find out Mercurius's handle, and trace his phone line!" she says. "But the only one who could do that is Ami-chan..."

Usagi walks through the hallway at school.

"But I want to see what kind of person Mercurius-sama is, too," she says. "Since it's Ami-chan's first love, and he could be cool."

"Usagi!" calls Naru. "You coming to the library today? Umino is taking lots of midterm tests."

"Umino!!" Usagi thinks. "I forgot there was such a devoted guy who could help me out now! (For about a year...)" She grabs him. "Umino! Have you heard of a person at the exams with the alias 'Mercurius'!?"

"If that's who you want," says Umino, "it's a friend of mine. Huh? You want to meet Mercurius? Okay."

"This is it," says Ami. "The prep school that had an advertisement on the bulletin board at school. This is a really old building. I wonder if any students are here. Nope! I can study anywhere. I'm happy to have another learning place for my game with Mercurius."

"Yes, and now to go for the accepted entries for the nationwide mock exam."

Ami wakes up, her head lying on the desk.

"Oh no!" she thinks. "What have I done! Have I been dozing since the first day!? My head is so woozy. I wonder if my immune system is weakened... Never felt like this before. Is it because I've been too conscious of Mercurius, and studying too much? Disrupting my pace so much. It must be Mercurius. But even though I play and play this game with you, I can't be satisfied. Even though I want to meet you, I don't even know your name. This is the same frustration I have when there's an equation I can't solve. I want to hurry and find the solution, and fix this up!"

As Ami leaves the school, another student fills out an application for the exam, writing the name 'Mercurius.'

A swirl of gas appears on the floor of the prep school. It forms into a figure.

"I am the genius loci Bonnoun," she says. "The temple hut of proper history has been open here for tens of hundreds of years. I've never seen such students engrossed in their studies. One seldom sees people feeling such fierce passion! Speaking out on this sacred land of education, it's an incarnation of a lewd, evil spirit!"

[Bonnoun - (Best guess) from the Japanese "bonnou," meaning "passion." I've also heard that it refers to a deity of jealousy, but I can't confirm this.]

She spies Ami leaving the school.

"Oh! This maiden is surely in love. In her passion, she's thinking only of a boy!"

Umino approaches the school with Usagi and the others.

"It's this prep school," he says, "where he goes to. Oh! Mercurius!"

"Hey! Dr. Googly!" he says.

The girls stare at the boy.

Ami walks to school reading a book.

"In the end," she thinks, "last night I was weak, but I was okay. Today I have work. No! To do work during exams would be blasphemy toward school! Wait... What were the characters for 'blasphemy'...?"

[The word 'blasphemy' is written without kanji here.]

"Oh, my mind is foggy. My eyes are blurry..."

She pictures two possible kanji combinations for the word. (The left one is the correct one.)

"Pull yourself together!" she thinks. "I don't want my scores to drop. Mercurius is awaiting me at the test!"

She collapses on the ground.

"Oh no!" cries Usagi. "Ami-chaaan!"

Ami-chan lies in bed in the nurse's office.

"Ami-chan..." says Usagi. "Is it brain strain?"

"If you're going to call it something," says Makoto, "I'd say lovesickness."

"It's an ordinary cold," the nurse says. "It's because of intemperance. If she rests, she'll get better."

The nurse leaves with the two girls, and tapes a note to the door:

In case of emergency, the attending physician is out. Contact the staff office if needed.

Ami moans. "Ohh... Ohh... My head hurts... My body won't move... I want to study, but I can't... What's wrong with me? This couldn't be... your fault, Mercurius?"

Bonnoun appears.

"So in the end you're ruled by your bad dreams, your passions," she says. "I'll hurry and make you into a being of passion. You'll fall victim to me. Eheh! The beginning of all passions. A love letter attack from your first love! No human can free themselves from the scent of their first love. Now, become passion incarnate!"

A storm of letters flies at Ami. One covers her face.

"Yeow! Who's that!?" Ami cries. "Ack, these love letters! I can't get them off my face!"

Information begins flowing from her head.

"Oh no! I feel it, I feel it... Everything I worked so hard to learn! Equations! Vocabulary! They're escaping from my head! Impossible!" She rips the letter away. "Who's there!? Oh, my head is dazed, I can't see very well."

"Listen carefully. I am the genius loci, Bonnoun..."

"It must be..." Ami says. "Are you Mercurius!? The Mercurius who's landed me in this situation!?"

"Umm... Hello! You listening? I'm Bonnoun..."

"You're such a coward, Mercurius! The time is finally here for our game! I can't lose!"

Ami envisions an equation:

(Exams^2 + Prep School^2) + /stress * temp. * (disturbances)^2    * Rival^2
                           / ----------------------------------
                         \/                 ranking
It continues:
...= Mercurius's true identity = Enemy = Defeat her!

"Transform!" Ami shouts. "Mercury Crystal Power! Make Up!!"

Bonnoun gasps as Ami changes.

"I am the soldier of justice and wisdom, Sailor Mercury! I'm stopping you here! Mercurius! Together, we always have first place perfect scores! This is the end of our finishing game of barren desks!"

"Umm... Hellooo? My name is Bonnoun! Are you listening?"

"I know that you're an enemy! And misleading me like this! I'm truly happy I could meet you. Rival = Enemy! That's the Ami equation. This proves it! I defeat enemies. Mercury Aqua Mirage!!"

Bonnoun is destroyed.

"Ah!!" Ami says. "Nice and tidy! My eyes are a little blurry... I never saw Mercurius's face, but... Must have been a wondrous person! Since it was my rival." She falls over.

Usagi runs into the room. "Oh no! Ami-chan!"

"Rival = Enemy, eh?" says Minako. "Just when my grades were improving, now I have to stop. I don't want to be killed by Ami-chan."

"I guess not," says Usagi. "We better not talk about seeing Mercurius-sama in front of Ami-chan."

"What!?" says Ami. "You saw him!?" She looks down. "What kind of person was he?"

"Th- This kind!" says Minako. She holds up a poster of a cute teen boy. "He was just like this idol!"

"Of course!" says Ami. "Just like when Einstein-sama was young! He truly is (was) my rival."

"I knew she'd want a pretty face," Minako thinks. "Because of her high ideals."

A box labeled 'Mercurius-sama's face' shows a boy with wild hair and square glasses (like Umino).

"The origin of my alias?" he says. "I just read my name, Suuri Kurume, backwards."

[Doesn't work in English, of course. Think 'Me-ru-ku-ri-u-su'.]

"From now on, we'll keep quiet about Mercurius-sama being a nerd just like Umino," thinks Usagi.

In the future, at the announcement of the mock exam results.

"Oh, why!?" Ami cries.

She rips apart the paper:

1st place: 500 points - Mercurius
1st place: 500 points - Mercury

"I was supposed to have defeated him! Why!? Damnit!"

The struggle of Mercury, with her high ideals, still, still... It continues.

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