Gosick II – Afterword

(Some material in this afterword for Gosick II is repeated in GosickS I. Although the stories in GosickS I began serialization in December 2003, they weren’t compiled into a book with an afterword until July 2005 after Gosick IV, whereas Gosick II was first published in May 2004. See the about page for more details.)

Hello everyone. This is Kazuki Sakuraba.

Allow me to present my latest work, “Gosick II—The Crime Without a Name.” Picking up where volume one left off, Victorique and Kazuya escape from St. Marguerite’s and go on an adventure! This time, they pursue the mystery of Victorique’s mother all the way to an enigmatic village deep in the mountains, where they also end up solving another case. If you want to know the rest of the story, please read this volume … anyway …

Aaaaaah, I have so many pages to write for the afterword again. Around fifteen pages. I’ve never seen such long afterwords before!

Well, what should I write about? Last time, I wrote about “Go→Sick!” and the slightly peculiar behavior of some of my friends….

Oh, yes. Recently, Ichirou Sakaki invited me to visit this vocational college as a guest speaker. So I ended up telling some rambling behind-the-scenes anecdotes about writing Gosick. But the students all seemed very pleasant, and I didn’t see any oddballs prone to peculiar behavior, so, uh, I guess that’s all there is to say about that. Argh, I’m only four lines in….

Hmm…

It’s best if I keep myself surrounded by people who are constantly committing peculiar behavior. Then my wellspring of vignettes for my afterwords will be sure to gush copiously forth.

However…

My mainstay (?), the stone lion thief, is a teacher at a middle school, and since she gets very busy in the springtime, she’s been in an extraordinarily bad mood. Not long ago, when I was gathering material to use for this afterword, I tried calling her during her lunch break:

Kazuki Sakuraba: Steal anything lately?
Stone Lion Thief: Shut up! I’m hanging up!

…She really lost her temper there. Brr, that’s cold! Good friends are the spice of life. I think we should all cherish them more. Rather than always be so childish.

I can think of no other option but to tell the story of the other stone lion thief.

Perhaps the number of people who steal stone lions is shockingly high, because when I think about it, there’s another person very close to me who has done the same thing. Now, let us tell this person’s story. He was someone unexpectedly close.

[The Tale of the Showa-era Stone Lion Bandit]

He was my grandfather, on my mother’s side.

What first brought this back to mind was during last New Year’s Eve. For some reason, everyone I ran into at Fujimi Shobo’s year-end party told me, “Hey, where’s the stone lion thief?” And I would think to myself, “Why should I bring her?!” I didn’t know why, but my mind was full of stone lions as I returned home.

Feeling a little buzzed, I crawled into bed in my apartment in Tokyo where I was living by myself. And just as I was about to fall asleep, a single vague image floated up into the darkness of my closed eyelids.

Something weird-looking, whitish grey, with rounded lines…

Two weird-looking somethings…

Oh, I’m so sleepy. I’m falling asleep….

But their outlines were getting clearer. Hmm…? They look kinda like rocks. Oh, I see a face. What am I looking at here? This is…

This… This is…

I jumped up in bed.

“Stone lions!”

I was suddenly super alert. You know how sometimes in mysteries, when characters end up recalling by chance some unpleasant memory that had been sealed in their childhood? It was exactly like that.

Despite my agitation, my memories were starting to come back to me.

What I remembered was a room that looked like the quiet home library of my late grandfather, at his estate built among the mountains. My grandfather was a botanist. His library was enveloped in a peaceful atmosphere that just made you want to disturb it. In that room, ruled only by knowledge and stillness, there were heavy-looking books that looked like encyclopedias lined up in a row on top of a sturdy chest. And supporting both sides of those books were two stone grey bookends…

The problem was that these bookends were obviously not the kind that you can buy. One could not help but notice that these were none other than the so-called stone guardian lions.

But then I reconsidered: memory is something that can be reshaped, and I might have just now constructed a memory of them being stone guardian lions, only because I had been thinking that they looked like them. So I calmly went back to sleep.

But the next day, and the day after that, I couldn’t shake the feeling that those bookends in my grandfather’s library had to be stone guardian lions, placed there ever so casually.

Not only could I not shake the feeling, but my memories were getting clearer and clearer. Those casual-looking stone lions were… well, not really casual at all, come to think of it.

Actually, they felt really alive…

Curiosity was eating away at me.

It was almost New Year’s at the time, so I decided to ask my family about it when I visited them.

Getting there from Tokyo took about an hour by plane. I arrived on a certain day in December to a land of clean air, surrounded by greenery, with snow fluttering down on the ground in big clumps….

[to be continued]

******

…I apologize. Forgive me. Why’d I throw in that “to be continued”?

The truth is that this story was supposed to go on another ten pages or so, but my editor Mr. K-dou had previously called to inform me, “I thought about it, but the story about your grandpa… It might get a little long. Um, just a hunch, okay?” So I crossed it out with tears in my eyes. I guess it is pretty long. And on second thought, people might not be too interested in a story about my grandpa stealing stone lions and my grandma getting really worried because of them…. The only characters are my grandpa, grandma, and the stone lions, like some folktale.

Not only that, but it might be more fun if I included the stories about the beautiful woman who wears a weird bra, or people with gushing nosebleeds. So I think I’ll save this Stone Lion Theater for another time. To be continued in the next volume! (I’m sowwy…)

*****

Now I think I’ll wrest the subject into another direction and go into the story of the lady who gushes blood from her nose.

[Run, sempai!]

This is about my sempai at the karate dojo that I attend. She’s an office lady. Like I wrote in the afterword for volume one, she’s not only cerebral and gorgeous, but also very strong. Yet she’ll have these random profuse nosebleeds. And on top of all that, I thought of another strange weak point that she has. And this is a fatal flaw for a martial artist.

She is extremely poor at losing weight.

It was the eve of an important match, and the participants were all struggling to lose weight. Well, I’ve always been on the petite side, and I’m usually in the smallest and lightest weight class, so I’m always getting lectured with things like, “Do you want to die? Gain some weight!” or “Can’t you get any taller? Another 5 cm would be great” (as if I could!), so I was already taking my time trying to eat more. And in this tournament, I had a lot of opponents. That’s because most of the other participants had chosen to enter in a lighter class rather than the one that corresponded to their original weight, so they had a month to lose five kilos. Everyone was really touchy about it.

Before another important match that had taken place recently, there I was standing in front of the dojo, chomping on Pocky and chatting with a high school girl who was one of the newer students, when I heard the sound of a high heel come whistling through the air at me. It was a sparkly Miu Miu sandal worth about 30,000 yen that had flown off the right foot of my nosebleeding sempai. Don’t kick with your shoes on! Not even if they’re cute ones!

She had a harder time losing weight than others, so she was especially touchy. Almost like a wounded wild animal. But I actually knew the reason she sucked so much at losing weight. Or rather, I managed to guess what it was.

It was because she kept trying out fad diets. Fads like the Mari Henmi diet (or was it Emiri Henmi?), or the low insulin diet or the blood type diet. Normally someone would tweak the amount they eat and their level of physical activity, but for some reason, shortly before the match she instead said this:

Nosebleed Sempai: Oh, I’m so full!
Kazuki Sakuraba: What?! Should you really be doing that?
Nosebleed Sempai: Duh, of course I can! ‘Cause I’m type A!
Kazuki Sakuraba: Huh?
Nosebleed Sempai: Type As can eat unlimited amounts of soba, and won’t get fat! Hee-hee!

She’s gone totally loco. The second I heard her say that, I thought I should let her know what I thought. But then again, I also wondered what would happen to her on the day of the match if she kept on doing that. So I gave into my curiosity, and just said “ohh!” and left it at that. Well, that fateful morning arrived, and I caught a whiff of green onion. When I asked her about it, she smiled and said, “Oh, that’s just me! I ate a ton of soba again this morning!” I was starting to get a really bad feeling about this, along with some pangs of conscience. Finally, it was weigh-in time. She confidently stepped onto the scale, wearing just a T-shirt that weighed no more than a hundred grams.

Bzzt! Three hundred grams over. Shocking. (to her, that is, not to anyone else)

As for what happens to someone who’s over the weight limit, they aren’t allowed to participate, of course. She was a well-known martial artist and a favorite to win the competition, but if she’s not fit to participate, then what’s she going to do? Her only option was to run around like a madwoman until she lost the three hundred grams within the time limit. So she reluctantly put on her windbreaker and started running laps around the gymnasium at full speed. She ran and ran with this frowny face, like she couldn’t comprehend why this was happening to her. As I watched her in that sorry state, I finally lost it and burst out laughing.

Kazuki Sakuraba: Ha ha, guess you had too much of your unlimited soba. Ha, ha, ha!
Nosebleed Sempai: …If that’s what you thought, why didn’t you say anything?!

She was really angry, but then even she started to find it funny after a while, and by the end she was running around laughing. So she somehow managed to lose the three hundred grams, and got a nosebleed along the way, but she still won the competition. Strong!

*****

So that’s the latest update on the nosebleeder.

Now, what’s going on with the Golden Bra? Oh, right! She did something kind of funny recently. I’ll write about that.

[The Statue of Liberty]

She’s a cool beauty … by which I mean, she’s really scary, the kind of person who can only be called an angel in white when her mouth is shut. The patients at the hospital where she works are split 50-50 into her fans who consider her lovely and proud, and those who think she’s scary and don’t like her. Both reactions tend toward the extremes.

But even a tough lady like that still has a strange weakness.

She has the tendency to fall for urban legends.

When she was still in high school, she would often pull out the antenna on her cell phone and start rubbing it between her thumb and index finger, then raise that hand up to the sky. What could she possibly be doing? “I’m letting the electromagnetic waves in. Look, I’ve got three bars now!” she would proudly inform us, like an old man who didn’t know how electronics work.

There was also this game that was popular back then, which involved running around on top of white cubes that were floating in the dark. A male character was doing the running around, and she would say, “If you clear one of the areas, he’ll turn into a female character, and the next level starts.” Armed with her belief in this urban legend, she would spend all hours of the night playing this game. And then she also started claiming, “If you clear this part, then the character turns into a white dog, and it whines when it falls from the top of the cubes.” Weirdo. (She also eagerly claimed something about the crows in Resident Evil changing into something else, but I forgot….)

Well, that was during high school. She’s well into adulthood by now. I had already completely forgotten about those sorts of things myself. And then just the other day we happened to visit Takano Fruit Parlor. It’s a very tasty all-you-can-eat fruit buffet. She was happily stuffing her face spoonful by spoonful with this fluffy dessert that had vanilla ice cream scooped on top of fresh blueberries.

Another friend was supposed to come with us that day, but she was running late from work. We thought she might call one of our cell phones, so both of us pulled out our phones from our bags. I set mine down on the corner of the table. Then I suddenly had this strong sense of foreboding. That sense was telling me that she was feverishly rubbing something between her index finger and thumb.

I was getting a bad feeling about this.

With great trepidation, I raised my head, and saw that she was holding her cell phone with the antenna pulled all the way out. And then, with a very serious face, she raised it up to the sky, like the Statue of Liberty. Our eyes met.

Kazuki Sakuraba: …What are you doing?
The Golden Bra: What do you mean? Ooh, let’s have some melon, too.
Kazuki Sakuraba: Sure… You know what, I’ve been thinking about something…
The Golden Bra: What?
Kazuki Sakuraba: No, it’s just, I can’t think of a good way to put this….
The Golden Bra: Something bothering you? Not that I’m interested.

That pose of yours is bothering me!

…But I wasn’t brave enough to say that, so I just quietly left my seat to get us two servings of melon. The melon was very sweet and yummy.

And then, as for her shachihoko-like golden bra, I have some dim recollection that it had to do with feng shui. Feng shui, really?! Isn’t it important that the color of a bra be something normal? I would think you should make it some color that’s not too embarrassing to report to the police in case some panty thief were to steal it.

*****

And as for how the original stone lion thief, the dreamy-eyed teacher, is doing these days…

I mentioned this earlier, but she’s been in a frenzy preparing for the new middle school year. Her “hanyaan” changed to a “grrrrr”! I’m scared.

It’s too much of a downer to leave it at that, so I’ll just write a brief note about what she’s been up to lately.

[The Rose Woman]

Before she got so busy, the stone lion thief invited me to Kill Bill, a movie that I had already seen, and eventually wound up inviting another girl to see it with her.

That girl is a music teacher who works at the same school. I’ve met her a few times, and she’s definitely that cute, featherbrained, rich-girl type who lacks any worldly cares. At first, I had referred to her by her last name plus “san,” but after a certain bizarre incident, this changed to the strange nickname of “that rose woman.” That incident occurred when the stone lion thief and the rose woman went to see Kill Bill together.

That day, the two of them met in Shibuya and went together to the movie theater. But the stone lion thief later alleged that the rose woman had suddenly stood up from her seat, where they were sitting fairly close to the screen (around where they would get a close-up of Uma Thurman’s feet), and then bolted out of the theater. And apparently she never went back to her seat again.

The stone lion thief had no choice but to forlornly watch the rest of the movie all by herself. And after she dragged herself out of the theater, hanging her head, she found the rose woman waiting at the exit.

For some reason, she was holding a large bouquet of red roses.

She was all smiles, laughing and crying at the same time.

And in her adorable, bell-like voice, she said, “That movie was so awful, I was afraid it would leave you a painful memory!”

The rose woman had run out of the theater, dashed to a flower shop, emptied her wallet to buy a big bouquet of roses, rushed back, and then stood at the exit, waiting patiently for the movie to end and the stone lion thief to come back out.

While I was listening to the stone lion thief tell me this story in a local Thai restaurant, I had no idea what to say. But then she said, “I love kind people!” and lavished the rose woman with praise. After that, she stared at my face like there was something else she wanted to say. Eh? Are you under the mistaken impression that I’m unkind…?

It makes me a little infuriated, and maybe a little envious, but either way, I can’t make heads or tails out of these stories. Weirdoes.

*****

Well, enough about those weird people.

I’m almost to the end, so I’ll wrap this up.

Once again, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my editor Mr. K-dou and all of the other people who have been of such great help to me in my latest writing endeavor.

Thank you so much to the illustrator Hinata Takeda for again drawing such a cute Victorique. I love how her cheeks are always so chubby and squishy. Her sleepy face when she’s carrying her pillow, her cheeks when they’re swollen with tears—it’s all so c-cute! I know I’ve bugged you with my sudden weird requests like asking you to make Inspector de Blois’ drill head pointier, but I hope you’ll keep on working with me in the future!

And thank you very much to all of you who have read this book. You make me very happy simply by reading and enjoying this sequel to the first volume.

In addition, I have a short story series that began in the May issue of Fantasia Battle Royale. There you’ll find Victorique and Kazuya running around all over the school as they’re just starting to get to know each other. There’s a special feature with a map of the Kingdom of Sauvure plus a bunch of other stuff, so please check it out if you’re interested.

As for the novels, in the next volume, Gosick III … Victorique will become [blank], and I’ll reveal the sentimental reason behind the inspector’s golden drill… I hope you’ll look forward to it! That’s all for now, see you next time!

Kazuki Sakuraba

(After the Fujimi Mystery Bunko edition was published in May 2004, it was republished in November 2009 by Kadokawa Bunko.
Because the afterword is reprinted from the Fujimi Mystery Bunko edition, all of the information regarding dates of upcoming publications and magazine appearances are from the perspective of the original edition published in 2004.)

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