The Correct Way to Being a Friend Character
To repeat myself, my name is Kobayashi Ichirou.
Even if I say so myself, I think it’s a pretty generic name. Too generic to the point that it becomes hard to remember. Nowadays, people can have some unique names. The reason for my name is, of course, because I’m the eldest son.
I’m a second-year student that goes to Oumei High School.
It’s an uneventful school, there are no overwhelmingly talented students nor are there extremely bad students. There aren’t any clubs that participate in national competitions.
I myself have no special characteristics worth mentioning. I have a medium build and my looks are probably average as well. No doubt, I’m a guy that’s the incarnation of “that high school student you can find just about anywhere.”
…For argument’s sake, if I was the novelist, I’d make someone like me a background character.
If I were to be involved with the main story, I’d soon be eaten up by one of the peculiarities. Being a pathetic victim is the only purpose I see myself having.
Being the person that I am, that’d be about the degree of my existence after all…I’ve come to realize such things long ago. I already became self-conscious at the time that I became aware of what was going on around me.
However, you could say that even I have one special skill.
It’s the “talent for support.”
Even if it’s impossible for me to stand out, I can make others stand out. To elevate, to make on shine, to promote──that’s the kind of skill that I excel at.
And now, with some luck, I was able to get the best position of “the protagonist’s friend.”
I’m entrusted with the important task of being a supporting character that can make a full demonstration of being on the sidelines.
Never once have I desired to be a “protagonist.”
As a small child, I only cheered for the red ranger in the hero squadron. After all, I looked down on the other colors.
An opportunity to be aware of my “supporting role” showed up in kindergarten, when we were doing a play. I played the part of an animal that accompanied Momotarou. (TLN: Momotarou is a character of Japanese folklore.)
However, my role was not a monkey, nor a pheasant, nor a dog, but a frilled lizard. There were too many kindergartners for the ordinary cast so we had to add some original characters. I believe there was also a racoon, a seal, and an alpaca. Being mindful of what parents were thinking, we weren’t established as Momotarou’s servants, but instead were “his friends.”
(I also wanted to play Momotarou…but I’m quite plain)
Even though I had such thoughts, I still carried out my roll as a frilled lizard. In the end, I protected my close friend, Momotarou, from a demon attack and became the only ally to die in the heat of the action.
“Don’t cry Momotarou…there are things that you must do…”
While saying so, I died as a frilled lizard. Of course, such a development wasn’t in the script, but I wanted to enliven the climax in my own way.
After the play was over, the teacher was crying. The teacher gave me praises by saying “Ichirou, your frilled lizard was top notch. You made Momorou, played by Takashi, look like a real hero.” My parents also admired me.
At that moment, I had an indescribable feeling of accomplishment, an uplifting sensation, a sense of fulfillment──
No doubt, that was the start of the Kobayashi Ichirou that I currently am.
From that looking point on, when looking at the hero squadron, I cared more about the green ranger than the red one. He was not part of the main story, but the green ranger, who was an accompanying member, had now been on my mind.
As it escalated, I began paying attention to characters that weren’t even members of the squadron. a doctor, a secretary, an ordinary father, and so forth.
They occasionally made their appearances, the very young child that was I continued to look at them with a passion. However, there was nobody who understood this feeling.
Everybody was just cheering for the main character…I even remember my mother saying “There’s no vinyl figure of the father.”
Even when I went to hero show in the summer of my second grade, there were only the squadron members. Those in the same generation as me, who were delighted, didn’t understand me.
(Everyone’s taking the supporting characters too lightly. The story doesn’t just revolve around the main characters. There are a lot of characters deep within the world…)
Such discontent grew once I entered fifth grade, and my thoughts turned into actions.
Within the class, I drew closer to obscurity and decided to make someone else shine.
A protagonist’s appeal can grow depending on their friends and sub-characters…I did some experiments and observations to confirm such thoughts.
To start, I kept an eye on the transfer student, Ishida. He was a soccer boy from Okinawa who didn’t quite blend in with the class because of his shy personality. During recess, he’d always seclude himself into the corner of the playground and juggle a soccer ball by himself.
I kept an eye on him during recess and soon tried to make contact with him.
“Ishida! Don’t just juggle a soccer ball, practice your shots too!”
Ishida was startled towards the sudden greeting.
“You’re like a protagonist, you’re probably an ace striker! C’mon, strike it! I’ll be the goalkeeper!”
“Kobayashi, are you interested in soccer as well?”
“Nope! If you want, we can do ping pong!”
From that day, I was the currently confused Ishida’s friend and coach.
It seemed he was apt towards being a forward, and Ishida improved in the blink of an eye. With his strength in breaking through, he was able to compete with the head of the team, and was able to rush out towards a spot skillfully.
Meanwhile, I diligently familiarized the class with soccer and setup basic games during recess. I talked with the teacher, and changed the ball game tournament from basketball to soccer.
As for Ishida, he went in a direction that leaned towards his Okinawan tastes. His catchphrase was “we’ll manage somehow” and he named his shot the “Chinsuko Bazooka.“ (TLN: His catchphrase is phrase that comes from Okinawa and Chinsuko is a sweet that comes from Okinawa)
“Hey, Kobayashi. I’m wondering if I really need to name my shot…”
“Idiot! You need to make your character distinct! If you’re being serious about this, I also want you to always be chewing on a sugar cane!”
“I, I don’t want to!”
Thanks to the effects of me promoting him, Ishida became the leader of the class before anyone realized. I also know that he had six girls who had a crush on him.
The kid that nobody used to know back in elementary school was now “Soccer Ishida from Okinawa”……the experiment was a great success.
“Kobayashi, why would you go this far for me?”
“Because I’m just a sub-character. Unlike you, I’m just ordinary and lack individuality.”
“My accomplishments are thanks to your assistance, Kobayashi…I really appreciate it, Kobayashi. If it weren’t for you, I would have been alone forever──”
After that. The modest Ishida once again moved away before we were done with elementary school.
According the his letter, he passed the selection process and entered the club team. It seems he has yet to meet someone who has breathed more life into him than me.
(It seems my support sense is the real deal. Also, being the supporting roles is kinda fun…I want to support more and more characters!)
I, being enthusiastic, expanded the range of my activities once entering junior high school.
One time, to fulfill Yamashita’s quest for love, I got involved with another girl. I approached her while saying “It’s all good, so let me keep you company for a bit”, then Yamashita came running and rescued her. The two became an open couple.
Yamashita was impressed and said “Kobayashi, you were really good at acting like a delinquent.”
I also made Watanabe, a delinquent, the boss of the school. I knocked down an opponent that was too much for him to handle and had Watanabe take the credit.
Watanabe was a bit frightened and said “Kobayashi…I feel like I won’t be able to win against you in my entire life.”
I also made the student council president, Sekiguchi, the top scorer of the school. I stuck with him and tutored him on what we were studying, and then he got full marks on his tests in all subjects. Of course, it wouldn’t be good if the protagonist were to cheat.
Sekiguchi groaned while saying “Kobayashi…how are you able to better keep up in your studies compared to me…”
Like that, I played the role of various friend characters and produced a lot of “red ranger-like existences.” Thanks to that, my number of friends had idly increased.
However──deep down in my heart, I was still feeling frustrated.
(This isn’t it. These people aren’t the ones. I want to support someone who’s like a genuine protagonist. The one who has the universe revolving around them, the true hero. Where could they be? I want the ideal one, the protagonist amongst protagonists.”)
I graduated from junior high with such a hunger, and then there was my first day at Oumei High School.
I met him.
It was roughly a year ago since I first met him. It was when the school entrance ceremony had finished, and I set foot into the classroom.
──With a single glance, I could tell that he was no ordinary person.
Among the classmates that were chatting and having a fun time, he stood alone next to the window. The air around him was obviously different from the other people in the background.
(Say, this person…looks a bit like a star idol.)
The front and back of his hair wavered in the drifting wind. While he had a slender physique, he gave off a bit of a dignified air. Even the school bag he placed under his feet looked a bit divine.
While giving off such a “special aura”, he leaned against the window and stared outside.
While having a calm profile, his eyes held a powerful light in them. It was as if he was a strong character that was saying “Hmm, nothing evades my eyes. These pupils will pierce directly without hesitation.”
(I see. This guy is definitely the genuine red ranger. No, he’s at the level of being scarlet or crimson. Who the heck are you? Where did you come from?)
Noticing that, I went straight towards before even checking my seat.
I want to know more about him. I want to know his detailed character setting…my blood as a supporter was getting me flustered.
“Hey, are you a part of this class?”
For the being, I decided to try and say those words. Though that’s the case, anything would work for a greeting.
“Well, I too didn’t have any acquaintances here, so I was starting to get worried. Nice to meet you.”
Despite saying that, he only took a light glance at me and soon turned his line of sight back to what was outside. He seemed to be acting in a sketchy way. Well, I’m used to these types of people.
“I’m Kobayashi. Kobayashi Ichirou. And you are?”
That was the first shock.
At that moment, there was a gap like that of heaven and earth between my name, “Kobayashi Ichirou,” and his. I had “woods” in my name while he had “forest.” His had just one more tree. There doesn’t seem to be anything that points to the origin of his name.
(TLN: This makes no sense without knowing Japanese kanji. Basically, both guys have names that include a kanji character relating to trees. The name Kobayashi contains the “林” character while the name Hinomori contains “森”. The character for ‘tree’ is “木”; notice how the name Hinomori has one more tree in said character it contains).
I never met a guy who had such a protagonist-like name before.
“O, oh, that’s a pretty cool name. It’s like something out of an anime or light novel.”
“I don’t like this name that much.”
“I feel that…it’s one that continues to tied down by fate until one’s death.”
“Isn’t it fine? It’s a pretty protagonist-like, isn’t it?”
This guy might just be the real deal. This may very well be the man that I’ve been looking for!
“Anyways, let’s get along well, Hinomori. Ah, is it okay if I call you Ryuga?”
“I don’t particularly mind…but I will tell you just this.”
“It’s better if you don’t get involved with me that much. This is for your own sake, Kobayashi, okay?”
Normally, someone would probably think ‘what is guy talking about?’, but my heart went soaring. That line had almost a perfect score in my book.
──So cool! This guy seriously has to be the protagonist, right?
Then the homeroom teacher arrived, thus ending my first conversation with Ryuuga.
However, my second shock waited within the class’ self-introductions that were done afterwards.
“I’m Hinomori Ryuuga. Until I became a high schooler, I lived in one of the most secluded locations of China due to family circumstances.”
What’s with that! What kind of circumstances!
Distinct name, distinct circumstances──I’d already been captivated by Hinomori Ryuuga by that stage. It was to the point that I don’t even remember what kind of self-introduction I made at all.
I want to be friends with him. I want to play the supporting role for this guy…such things were the only thoughts in my head.
This was something I heard later on, but apparently I had introduced myself by saying “I’m Ryuga’s close friend, Kobayashi.”
From that day, I followed after Hinomori Ryuuga.
Morning, between classes, lunch, after school. I had only talked to him for a minute. Since he had that distant feeling to him , I decided to approach him as a super-tense fool.
In the beginning, Ryuuga showed a plainly annoyed expression, but after several months, it got the point where he would respond to me. Gradually, his attitude softened, and he eventually began to show a smile.
“Ah hah hah. You’re a fool, Ichirou. I’m not that simple.”
“Who’s are you calling an idiot! I’m being serious! After all, I was able to squeeze out a conversation from you!”
“What do you even want to me to say?”
“If I mutter ‘what is the capital of Belgium’, you’re supposed to say ‘Brussels, sir.'”
Looking into Ryuuga’s true nature, he’s a lot more simple than I thought and he’s pretty skilled at playing the straight man. Gradually, my character began to have a good compatibility with his.
“Leaving that aside, Ryuga, how about we go to a pool? There’s a pretty big one in the neighboring town.”
“Sorry, but I don’t like to swim that much.”
“Swimming is just an excuse! What we’re really going there for is the eye-candy! What comes to mind when you think about a pool!”
“Let me end this with some brief words; that’s as far as I’ll let you go.”
──As the time we spent together, both in and out of school, increased, I had confirmed that Ryuuga was definitely the protagonist. And such a thought grew day by day.
First of all, this guy almost never talks about his past.
When asked about his time before high school, he always dodges the question by saying “I don’t have any stories worth talking about.” Only in anime will you find such a protagonist.
Also, this guy frequently slips out of class.
As soon as he comes back, he gets extremely tired, blood comes out from his lips, the sleeves and cuffs of his uniform get torn, and so forth. Only in light novels will you find such a protagonist.
Not to mention, this guy holds some unusual abilities.
I had once peeped in on him using an aura from his hands to burn a manga magazine, after which he slumped down while saying “I didn’t get to finish it…” Only in serialized works, like that one he was reading, would you find such a protagonist.
(This is seriously it. This guy is fighting hidden peculiarities, a genuine hero! He’s what I’d been originally looking for, a real hero!)
I never thought the peculiarities that were monsters could have existed, but such trivial matters aren’t worth worrying about.
I finally met him. Oh, how I want to be the one and only person to be this guy’s support! To support the one who’s the center of this universe, the protagonist of protagonists!
…Before long, we entered the second year of high school and we were once again in the same class. At that moment, Ryuuga said something.
“It’s nice to be together again. Let’s get along well, Ichirou.”
“At first you were a bit annoying, but now, you’re someone precious to me, Ichirou.”
“Only when I’m with you am I able to forget about my mission…ah, never mind what I just said.”
When hearing those words, I was ecstatic and felt like saying “you can depend on me!”
I had been accepted as a friend character of the protagonist.
From then on, I could stay by his side. I had passed Ryuuga’s audition!
My “friend character life” has thus reached to the present.
He’s able to smile in front of me now, but I think that Ryuuga was definitely a tough one. After all, he carries the fate of this world on his shoulders. I’m worried that he might go bald from the stress.
I can’t do much since I’m not supposed to know about everything. No matter what, whenever one of his secrets slips, I have no choice but to turn a blind eye towards it.
But that’s fine. If I’m being honest, I’m not that interested in the Ryuuga that’s a part of the main storyline. As far as I’m concerned, the Ryuuga that I know is the Ryuuga in the “moments of peace.”
I’m not Ryuuga’s “companion”, but just a “friend”…I can’t be a frilled lizard fighting alongside him, but instead a more low-key frilled lizard. I’m planning to build up enough experience to do so.
In the “daily life part”, I do my best to help him forget his worries. I provide the usual moments of comfort and entertainment to Ryuuga.
That is my mission as Kobayashi Ichirou.
I’m certain that there’s nobody else around Ryuuga who can take this position other than me.