Classroom of the Elite Volume 12 Chapter 5 Introduction
TL: Graze and Hina
ED: PuffyPyjamas, o-montoya, silent death
Thursday; The weekend would soon be upon us. I brought Horikita along with me to the library after classes were done for the day.
This was because we had arranged to hold a discussion with the Class 1-D students that Nanase would be bringing along with her today.
On the way to the library, Horikita and I spoke with each other about the special exam.
“Have you taken a look at today’s OAA update yet?”
“17 more pairs were finalized, bringing the total up to 73.”
While the number of new pairs wasn’t all that unexpected, there was one thing that made this update distinctly different from the previous two.
Two students from Class 1-D had decided on a partner.
Slight traces of activity could be seen within the class that had laid dormant over the past three days.
“I’m a little annoyed. I thought Hōsen-kun would wait and see how the situation developed for a little while longer. I tried to make some light conversations with several Class 1-D students during lunch today, but they all just brushed me off by saying they didn’t know anything about the two students who were involved.”
“There’s a fine line between them actually not knowing anything and them having a gag order in place.”
It wouldn’t be surprising if they had been instructed not to leak any information nor partner up with someone unless they receive a substantial number of points.
“That’s true. Either way, it’s good that we’ve decided to meet with Nanase-san after this. If it’s her, we might be able to ask her about it too.”
Horikita had only ever made contact with Nanase once, and they had never really had a proper conversation with each other.
Nevertheless, Nanase, the girl who had been together with Hōsen, stood out as a student who seemed easy to communicate with.
I had personally felt a strong impression of honesty back when I had spoken with her.
Somehow, she had a straightforward, upright personality that reminded me of Ichinose.
We arrived at the library and set foot inside.
“Oh my. It seems the library has some rare visitors.”
The first person to greet us was not Nanase, but rather, Class 2-C’s Shiina Hiyori.
As expected of a bookworm, it seemed she had made her way here as soon as school was out for the day.
“It might be just a little noisy today. We’re here to have a discussion with some first-year students about the special exam.”
“I see. Well, I think the seats at the far end of the room should be good for that. That way, you won’t be too much of a nuisance to the other library patrons, so it should be alright for you to talk a bit. If someone tries to approach you, you’ll be able to notice right away.”
We opted to take the advice that Hiyori had considerately offered to us.
“Are things going well in Class C?”
“Yes. There’s a lot going on right now.”
Because our classes were direct competitors, it was difficult for her to let us know about the internal affairs of her class.
We parted ways with Hiyori after exchanging a few more simple words and decided to go take a seat since we had arrived before Nanase. Although I was vaguely concerned about Hiyori’s situation, I went along with Horikita to the seats at the far end of the room.
“Nanase-san aside, now that we’re getting involved with Class 1-D, the question is whether or not Hōsen-kun will show up.”
“That’s right. Whether or not he comes with her will make all the difference.”
Since there weren’t any prior restrictions on who could come, there was no guarantee that Hōsen wouldn’t tag along with her.
In which case, we would have to negotiate a big deal under rather turbulent conditions.
“Can I ask you something before we get to the full-blown discussion? Have you been studying?”
“Well, somewhat. Is there something wrong with that?”
“As I’ve got the advantage of choosing the subject we’ll compete in, I’ve just been wondering if you’ve been taking enough time to study.”
“Why? Are you trying to show humanity to your enemy or something?”
“No way. I’m not so kind that I’d give up my own advantage. This is a competition I must win.”
Although she says this, she still seemed to care about whether I was studying properly or not.
In other words, she was worried that I’d end up making excuses if I lost our bet, saying that I had been too busy with the special exam to study.
“I could say the same to you, given that you’ve spent all your time trying to put Class 2-D in order recently.”
“I’m just as diligent with my studies as always, so there are no problems on my end.”
It seemed she was pretty confident in her daily study routine.
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to lose.”
“It’s fine if that’s the case, but…”
She didn’t exactly trust me so she didn’t really think I was taking our bet very seriously.
There was one more thing I wanted to ask her in relation to that. Horikita had many different shoes to fill. On top of working to organize the class, she had to both study for herself, and tutor others. I wasn’t sure if she could keep this pace until the day of the exam. However, just as I was about to ask her about it, Nanase arrived at the library alone. She noticed the two of us immediately, bowing her head before she approached. It seemed that Hōsen wouldn’t be showing up for the initial discussion.
“Sorry to have kept you waiting, Senpai.”
“We only just got here ourselves.”
Greetings were shared as Horikita motioned for Nanase to take the seat on the other side of the table. The discussion had begun.
“I’ll reintroduce myself… I’m Horikita Suzune. Thank you for taking the time to hold this discussion with us today.”
“I─ No, that’s not right… I am known as Nanase Tsubasa. I haven’t done anything worthy of your thanks. Rather, I should be the one expressing my thanks to the two of you.” (TLN: The first ‘I’ Nanase uses here is Boku, whereas the second and all future pronouns she uses for herself in this part is Watashi. I have no idea how to translate it so I’m just doing this to explain it as it’s an important detail later.)
They were fellow Class D students, both having started from the very bottom.
As soon as she heard Nanase’s polite introduction and response, Horikita cut to the chase.
“This might seem rather intrusive, but could I ask you about something?”
“First of all, as a baseline premise, I’d like to hear about Class 1-D’s policy moving forward. Only today did two students in your class finally decide on their partners. However, the direction of the remaining 38 students is still up in the air. You’re one of them, aren’t you Nanase-san?”
While it wasn’t known if it was Hōsen or another Class 1-D student, it was clear that somebody was giving the class instructions.
“You’re correct. I thought that you’d inquire about that. You asked Kajiwara-kun this very same question earlier today, right?”
Kajiwara was the name of one of the many students in Class 1-D. Apparently, Nanase had already found out that Horikita had attempted to contact several Class 1-D students during lunch today. In which case, it seemed reasonable to assume that Nanase also knew that we had contacted Shiratori and his friends on the first day of the exam.
“I’m surprised. It seems you guys do a great job reporting, communicating, and discussing things.”
“Many students have already begun taking action in accordance with Hōsen-kun’s orders.”
Instead of being ambiguous, Nanase readily confirmed that Hōsen was the one in charge.
“Is it because of his aggressive attitude? No… I think there’s more to it than that. What on earth did he do?”
Nanase pondered for a moment before finally opening her mouth to speak.
“I’m immensely sorry, but I’m afraid I can’t provide you with any specifics. It’s a strategy that Hōsen-kun has come up with in order to unify the class. Although I don’t know if his strategy is correct or not, leaking the information to an outsider would be an act of betrayal.”
“Oh well. You’ve made the correct choice.”
In response to Horikita’s words, Nanase lightly bowed her head in appreciation. Just because we were her upperclassmen didn’t mean she had to tell us everything. Just as she had expressed in her conversation with me yesterday, Nanase possessed the resolution expected of a student devoted to her class.
“Then, let’s get down to business. I’d like to know if our class can collaborate with Class 1-D, just like the two people who finalized their partners yesterday.”
“I believe you’ve heard this from Shiratori-kun already, but our doors are always open to you. As long as you present us with at least a fixed number of private points, we’ll accept the partnership without the slightest bit of hesitation.”
Sure enough, our conversation with Shiratori and his friends had managed to reach Hōsen’s ears.
From this, I could hazard a guess that the two Class 1-D students in question had been bought for a large number of private points.
“But what I’m asking for today is completely different from settling an agreement with points.”
“I understand that. I heard a little about it from Ayanokōji-senpai before, but you’re looking to establish a cooperative relationship where our classes help cover for the more academically incapable students, correct?”
“That’s right. The fact that you’ve come here despite knowing that, already leads me to believe that we have room to negotiate, right?”
“There is─ or at least that’s what I’d like to think.”
With that, Nanase’s expression clouded over before she continued.
“Hōsen-kun’s way of thinking is thoroughly rooted in the mindset of individualism, and he enforces that on those around him. At this rate, the students with low Academic Ability ratings won’t be able to find partners and will end up getting left behind. While it’s not a very big problem that they’ll lose out on three months of private points, I fear that they’ll be branded as losers who weren’t able to find themselves a partner. Well, no, that might not be that big of an issue either… What really gets to me is the thought that this individualistic mindset might never go away, preventing us from being able to unite as a class in the future.”
After hearing what Nanase had to say, Horikita vocalized her predictions on what she thought might happen to Class 1-D moving forward.
“Yeah. If nobody is ever willing to help the class as a whole, the ongoing individualist battle would naturally accelerate. The weaker students would have no choice but to fend for themselves. And, as soon as that becomes the expected standard, nobody will be willing to help each other, even if somebody asks for it. The class wouldn’t be in any position to do something if confronted with an exam that requires cohesion.”
That was why, in order to avoid that, Nanase was willing to single-handedly take part in negotiations with Horikita.
“You’re not afraid of Hōsen-kun, Nanase-san?”
An immediate, unfazed response. And then, Nanase turned and set her sights on me for the first time since we started the discussion. She had that same look in her eyes that I had seen only twice before. I was reminded of what I had heard yesterday, when she had said ‘I will never yield to violence.’ Although I wasn’t without concerns about her identity, Nanase may very well be the only person capable of bringing Class 1-D over to our side.
If we had truly met through a chance encounter, then I was honestly grateful for her.
“Then, let me ask you more of an in-depth question here. How many students are struggling to find partners right now in Class 1-D? Please tell me to the extent you know you can answer, Academic Ability ratings aside.”
While the OAA app would tell you which students hadn’t found a partner yet, it didn’t say anything about whether or not a given student was likely to find a partner.
For that, you had no choice but to ask somebody personally involved with the class in order to find out.
“At this point, I believe that approximately fifteen students would find it difficult to search for a partner on their own.”
“Fifteen… That’s more than I expected.”
However, many Class 2-D students hadn’t decided on a partner yet either.
As long as they coordinated properly, there should be enough room for our classes to work together.
“Nanase-san. If you’ll allow for it, I’d like to come to an agreement with you and your class.”
“An agreement, is it?”
“I’m hoping that you and I can decide on a combination of fifteen sets of partners and get this over with all at once. It wouldn’t matter what Academic Ability rating they might have. And, naturally, there wouldn’t be any points involved either. It would be an equal, collaborative relationship based on helping those who need to be helped.”
In other words, a relationship based on an understanding of mutual concessions and compromises.
As we would be giving and taking from each other, private points and feelings wouldn’t need to get involved.
The chances of somebody being expelled would go down a lot with the establishment of this agreement alone.
However, things weren’t that simple, and both Horikita and Nanase were aware of that as well.
“This is on the premise that we can make that agreement in the first place, but there is no guarantee that we will be able to save those in Horikita-senpai’s class with Academic Ability in the vicinity of an E rating. The majority of the students in my class who are struggling to find partners have Academic Ability ratings of C or D.”
If, for example, the maximum Academic Ability rating they were willing to put forward was a C+, there would still be huge risks associated with pairing them up with someone who has an E rating from our class. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that, for us, the disadvantages would be far more prevalent.
“That’s why I’ll need you to do your best to make sure it doesn’t turn out like that.”
“Yes, I know. Even if that’s the case, I still don’t believe we will come to an agreement very easily.”
Nanase spoke her thoughts without denying anything.
“Hōsen-kun would never allow us to help you out for free. Especially not now.”
Class 2-A had managed to maintain a high number of class points ever since enrollment and had an ample amount of funds saved up as a result. Class 2-C, despite coughing up a large number of points to save Ryūen late last year, had the luxury of a steady supply of funds due to their contract with Katsuragi and Class A. The Class 2-C students probably had a certain amount of points saved up as well.
Given that the two classes were contending for students with such a huge number of points on the table, it was only natural for the first-years to sell themselves to the highest bidder.
You could say that Hōsen’s plan, the policy he had put in place, was the best way to handle this exam.
However, while asking prices were high across the board, there was no doubt that Class 1-D was asking for much higher prices than all the other first-year classes.
This was evident by the low number of Class 1-D students who had already finalized their partners.
“Even though it would benefit everyone in his class? There shouldn’t be any downsides in it for him.”
The downside was that the students who weren’t able to join with a partner wouldn’t receive the private points they would’ve gotten otherwise. Though, this was probably implied by this point.
“I understand what you’re trying to say, Horikita-senpai. I can also get behind the vast majority of what you’ve outlined for me so far.”
It looked like, personally, Nanase was impressed with Horikita’s proposition.
“It’s just… I still don’t think Hōsen-kun will allow it.”
There was a short silence. I could vaguely guess what she happened to be thinking about, so I spoke up.
“The only thing I know for sure is that Hōsen isn’t just collecting points for himself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I originally thought Hōsen was demanding a huge number of points for partnerships because he wanted to horde all of the points for himself. But if that were the case, he’d be actively looking to help his classmates with low Academic Ability ratings. In the most extreme scenario, he’d be reaching out to those students, telling them to just hand over the points they’d get and he’d find them a partner.”
“That’s indeed true… Three month’s worth of private points is nothing to sneeze at. I’d rather give half of the points to Hōsen-kun and save myself instead of failing the exam and not getting any points at all.”
Judging from his actions so far and what I could gather from conversations with Nanase, that wasn’t what he was doing at all.
“It’s just as Ayanokōji-senpai has speculated. Hōsen-kun has not received any compensation from our classmates.”
He was controlling the class, imposing rules.
And then, when someone breaks those rules, they’d be completely ostracized by Hōsen and the students who followed him.
Therefore, they wouldn’t dare find a partner without Hōsen’s permission. They couldn’t.
The Class 1-D students didn’t show up at the meet-and-greet because they knew it’d be useless to attend from the very beginning.
“Couldn’t you use your influence to control even a couple of the academically capable students in your class?”
Horikita wasn’t asking for anything in return for her proposal. It was merely an act of mutual cooperation between classes.
Compared to the second-year students, the first-year students didn’t have as much of an emotional attachment to their class and friends.
It was just too unreasonable to expect them to have bonded within the first week or two after enrollment.
“I’ve tried asking several of them, but none have said that they’d be willing to consider it.”
“So compensation is still an absolute requirement?”
“If we only need a couple of people, couldn’t we just make an agreement using points?”
I asked Horikita the question. If our goal was to take first place overall like Class 2-A and 2-C, we’d need an enormous sum of points to recruit such a large number of capable students. However, since our goal is just to prevent expulsions, we only needed to recruit a couple students, so the monetary cost would be reduced accordingly.
“Yes… If we really end up with no other options, that’s what we’ll have to do. But a relationship built upon private points can only be further maintained with more private points. I want a relationship that goes beyond that.”
After responding to me, Horikita turned and looked straight at Nanase.
“What do you mean by that, Horikita-senpai?”
“Right now, the first-years and second-years are on different playing fields. First-years like you are at the advantage because you don’t have to bear the risks of expulsion. However, that dynamic surely won’t last forever. Sooner or later, the day will come when you have to face the risk of expulsion as well. If you’ve never done anything more than establish relationships that revolve around points, what are you going to do when the time comes and Class 1-D doesn’t have enough?”
While some students would probably be saved, chances are that there would also be those who would not.
“That’s why I want to work with you as equals without creating a hierarchical relationship based on points. And, I want to build up trust. A special relationship of trust that comes from being in different school years.”
With this, Horikita was advocating that, when a Class 1-D student was in trouble, they’ll be able to consult with us on an equal footing. In short, it was similar to the trust-focused strategy Ichinose was implementing.
The primary difference being that it didn’t require the entire grade’s cooperation, but just that of a single class.
Horikita wasn’t looking to appeal to everyone. She was just limiting the scope of our cooperative efforts to Class 1-D.
We had already embarked on the fourth day of the special exam. We couldn’t afford to waste too much of our time.
This had probably given Nanase a solid understanding of Horikita’s intentions.
But even so, her strained expression never brightened.
“I completely understand what you’re saying, but I don’t think my peers can understand that yet. Most of the first-year student body is eager to save up as many private points as possible. Given that, partnering up with somebody without any form of compensation would be seen as nothing more than a waste.”
In this respect, the only option was to give them time to understand how the school worked.
“So basically, you’re saying that there are two obstacles to working together with Class 1-D right now. Persuading Hōsen-kun, and persuading the honor students who want points. The latter of which remains the same no matter which class you’re dealing with, but…”
It was true that, at least on the surface, the benefits that would come with working together with Class 1-D seemed small because of the many obstacles, Hōsen in particular, that would need to be overcome. However, the reality was different.
Was Horikita aware of this as well?
“Please let me discuss things with Hōsen-kun.”
Horikita voiced her request, having decided that it was impossible to move discussions forward any further than this without Hōsen.
“You’re right… If we want to push this relationship any further, I suppose there’s no getting around it.”
“I’d be ready to meet with him right now, if that’s alright with you.”
“Okay. I’ll go call him.”
Nanase took out her cell phone and headed toward the entrance of the library.
“It seems that Hōsen-kun’s influence is more widespread than I imagined.”
“Trying to work together with Class 1-D like this… I’m not making a mistake, right?”
“Establishing a relationship that looks forward to the future isn’t a bad idea. You could even say that it’ll be essential. Sakayanagi and Ryūen have been trying to build up trusting relationships with the talented first-year students using their reputation and points. Ichinose doesn’t have any points whatsoever, but she’s trying to build up her own trusting relationships by saving the weak. And your strategy is similar to Ichinose, but you’re trying to build up trust with only one class, right? The strategies all take different shapes and sizes, but in the end they’re all the same. You’re already in the process of becoming a leader capable of competing with the three of them.”
Horikita nodded lightly upon hearing my words. With this, it was up to her to make sure that the negotiations ran smoothly.
After waiting for a while, we noticed Nanase poke her head back through the entrance and beckon us over to her.
“I wonder if something happened?”
“Let’s go and find out.”
The two of us left the library and joined back up with Nanase.
“Pardon me, Senpais. Uhm… Hōsen-kun is on the line.”
Nanase held out her muted phone, presenting it to Horikita.
Horikita took the phone, set it to speaker mode, and set about confronting Hōsen.
“Sorry to keep you waiting.”
[Yo. I’ve heard the gist of it from Nanase.]
“I’d like to meet in person and explain it to you myself, if I could.”
[No need. Meetin’ up won’t do jack shit.]
After an audible laugh in the background of the call, Hōsen spoke.
“By that… you mean you’re not even willing to negotiate?”
[Exactly. I didn’t even wanna talk with ya on the phone, but Nanase was bein’ stuck up ‘bout it.]
“But Hōsen-kun, I think we should consider what Horikita-senpai has to say.”
[Shut up bitch. Who the fuck you think you are? Huh? I’ll fucking kill you.]
“I have no interest in being killed, but please meet with Horikita-senpai at least this once.”
[Don’t contact me again unless yer willin’ to fork over the points.]
Nanase tried to say something else, but Hōsen hung up the call.
She immediately tried to call him back, but no matter how many times she called, he never picked up the phone.
“…I’m very sorry!”
Nanase lowered her head as far as she possibly could, apologizing to the two of us.
But Nanase hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Raise your head. My plan is completely different from Hōsen-kun’s, so it’s not going to be easy to get things right. I’m very grateful that you’ve been willing to lend us a hand like this.”
“Let’s leave it at that for today. We’ll have to come up with something if we want to discuss things with Hōsen-kun. Either way, I’d like to get this wrapped up by the end of this week.”
Any longer than that and Horikita would probably have to shift her focus to a different class. That said, I really hoped it wouldn’t turn out that way. Fighting the other three classes for students after most of them have already been taken would take an almost daunting amount of effort.
“I’m very happy that you haven’t given up yet, Horikita-senpai, but…”
Nanase held back the words that were about to leave her mouth. She had probably wanted to say that it was impossible to form an equal, collaborative relationship with Hōsen, but thought it would all be over if she did.
“At least he got a sense for what I want to do. That should be enough for now.”
Though time was running out and patience was wearing thin, Horikita reassured Nanase as she brought the conversation to a close.
Horikita offered that we all return together, but it seemed like Nanase had somewhere she needed to go.
And then, after telling us that she hoped to meet up with us in the library again tomorrow, she left.
Perhaps she went off to go meet up with Hōsen.
“Let’s head out. I still have a lot left to do today.”
It seems that Horikita has plans to hold a study session with Sudō and a few others after she got back to her room.
“Ah, and it’s about time you clarify what your plan is with finding your own partner too. Are you going to figure it out on your own, or do you plan on delegating it to me as well? It might affect how things turn out later on down the line.”
After all, if we managed to start negotiations with Hōsen, we’d have to make adjustments to the exact number of people involved in the agreement.
“There’s already somebody I have in mind for that.”
“So instead of looking for somebody with a certain Academic Ability rating, you’re looking for somebody specific? Who?”
“That’s a secret.”
“A secret…? Do you really need to keep it from me?”
“I only have a surface-level impression of them right now myself.”
“Does it really matter that much? Everybody’s had to do what they can to get help, you do know that right?”
“You’re not wrong. I thought I’d have a better idea today, but… Well, I’ll make my decision by the end of this week at the latest.”
“If you say so, but… I can’t make any promises if you come crying to me at the last minute, alright?”
“I’ll keep that in mind. Anyway, I was meaning to ask earlier, but how are you feeling?”
“…Are you worried about me?”
“While there’s no need to worry about your stamina right now, there’s still a fair bit of time until the special exam.”
If she were to run out of energy right before the end, it could possibly affect her performance on the day of the exam.
She was holding study sessions day after day, coupled with all the time she had spent dealing with Amasawa’s cooking challenge yesterday.
It’s only natural that fatigue would gradually continue to accumulate.
“It’s true that I might be wearing myself out, but I don’t have time to rest right now. I’m not going to collapse until the special exam is over.”
Rather than a simple show of courage, this was more like she had adopted a mentality fitting of someone looking to lead the class into battle.
Yōsuke and Kushida offering their help was one thing, but students with excellent Academic Ability ratings like Keisei and Mii-chan had also offered to help Horikita ever since the very beginning of the exam. As such, Horikita decided to push forward with her plan to work together with Class 1-D in the future.
After all, if the leader falters, unable to make decisions, it would only serve as a bad influence on the class as a whole.
In a race against time, the most crucial part of all of this was figuring out how to solidify our class’s course of action during the early stages of the exam.
This part sucks honestly. It’s a huge chunk of text with literally nothing interesting happening. Big suck.
Anyways, I did a TLN on the line in question, but Nanase uses ‘Boku’ in her first line here, instead of ‘Watashi’ like she’s used every time we’ve seen her so far. These are both Japanese first-person pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘me’, but Boku has a masculine flair to it whereas Watashi is more gender-neutral/feminine. She corrects herself, but there’s no English equivalent of this multiple pronouns so the translation wouldn’t make sense without a translation note. Hope this helps to clarify things.
Anyways, Part 1 is almost done and it’s much better to read. The underworking plot of the volume gets teased a bit and Kei shows up again, so look forward to that. Expect it later today or tomorrow. Thanks for reading.