Lesson 1: It’s fine if you don’t get 100 points on the test, even our cram school teacher says 70 points is fine, you know.
“If I held divine power, I would put the springtime of youth right at the end of human life”
“If I could be god, I would add chocolate parfait to the school dinner menu, that’s what I’d do”
Gintama high school.
It’s a strange name, but that’s just how it is, given that such school names do in fact exist. The thing is, in this world, you’d expect schools with even stranger names… probably.
Year 3 Class Z.
I want you to read it as “zee”, not “zed”. Why, you ask? Because it sounds cool that way. Doesn’t matter whether you’re the founder or the headmaster, whether it’s said or not said, I’m not sure why, but anyway, use “zee”. In response to a question like “Are there lots of schools with this many students?”, a polite response would be: “The person in charge is currently not available and is therefore unable to comment.”
This room isn’t so different from what you’re used to. There’s a sliding door at the front and back of the classroom, a teacher’s desk, students’ desks and chairs, those sorts of things. As long as you imagine it being like the school dramas you see on TV, there shouldn’t be any problem. However, if there is a weird thing about the room, it might just be the horizontal scroll hanging above the blackboard on the classroom’s front wall that reads “sugar content”.
Although it can’t be said that what’s on the scroll is well-written, the calligraphy of the characters in “sugar content” is, in its own way, filled with conviction. Why “sugar content”? “Cos the home room teacher is a sweet tooth, te he”, a sweet answer like that should suffice. By the way, it should be noted that “sugar content” is also written on a scroll hanging on the rear classroom wall but as to why that’s the case, refer back to the previous answer.
Well then, as things stand, Gintama High school is in a whole different ball park compared to your so called “normal high school”.
In the “Year 3 Class Z” classroom, sitting in the second front row and next to the hallway side, was Shimura Shinpachi’s seat.
It’s 8:40 in the morning, home room is about to start in around 5 minutes. Shinpachi is in his seat resting his chin in his hands, gazing at what the other classmates are doing. The wide majority of them were out of their seats, really kicking up a fuss. It was a teacherless classroom that belonged to the students, meaning that the noisiness was only natural… “But even so” thought Shinpachi. “Aren’t there, too many weirdos in this class?”
Take for example, the seat to the left of Shinpachi’s from the row in front, “bitch whaat, gouging on my luxury tako wieners as you please, screw you!” A transfer student from China, Kagura was in a bad mood from having to get up so early in the morning. Although seeming like a cute girl on first sight, she was currently bending her neck down as if she was some delinquent from the sticks. When it looked like she was finishing an early lunch break, it looked to the other students like she had just stolen some side-dish wieners for lunch. In any case, Kagura and Shinpachi were stunned. The bento lunch from this morning seemed to have been eaten way too easily; it was a mystery whether those “luxury tako” wieners were actually just “normal tako” wieners !
Shinpachi Shimura, being the straight man is his hobby. It’s not like he decided to be the straight man, but if you have so many eccentric classmates around you, you’ll just become one by accident. Such is the tragic destiny of Shinpachi.
“I only took about this much wiener, so quit yapping already. In my country “tako wieners are for everybody, so don’t mindlessly hog them” is what we say, you got that?” The student replying back to Kagura was Catherine, who was also a transfer student. With imposing eyebrows and thick lips, the violent aura she gave off as a female student was overwhelmingly excessive, even with her cat ears.
“Stop pulling out sayings I don’t get! If you’ll allow me to speak, in my country they say that “cat ear girls are to be immediately executed. A good colour is beige”, also they’re not normal tako, they’re luxury tako!” bellowed Kagura.
“What’s up with this tako fixation anyhow? Or maybe they were fixated on the wieners? Doesn’t really matter either way.” thought Shinpachi
To the left of Kagura and Catherine’s farce was the Public Morals Committee member Sogo Okita in the seat behind them, next to him was Toshiro Hijikata from the same committee, who he was talking to for some reason. With that chestnut, rustling hair reflecting in his round eyes, the simple haired, sharp looking Hijikata faced the cold yet sweet mask of Okita. They would score highly in terms of physical appearance, but since these are class 3Z students we’re talking about, their conversation also follows suit.
“Hey Sogo” said Hijikata in a quiet tone.
“What’s up Hijikata” replied Okita, throwing his feet out onto the pathway and messing around with his phone, his tone also quiet.
“Sogo, do you know about the mayo lunch?”
“Wouldn’t putting mayonnaise on lunch just be inconsiderate?”
“Shut up, what’s inconsiderate about it? I mean, there isn’t a day when I don’t eat it”
“I know that. Say, what’s up with that mayo lunch anyhow?” said Okita, still messing about with his phone.
With a sigh Hijikata continued to talk. “Well actually, I successfully improved the mayo lunch last night. I haven’t let anyone at all know about it yet.” Okita wasn’t interested. “It’s good so listen up, if you add certain things to a mayo lunch, it becomes unbelievably tasty. You know what those things are?”
“Oh, I got a reply. Yeah sounds amazing, tell me all about it.”
“You sure as hell don’t look interested, arsehole. Ugh, fine then, I’ll just tell you…” having said that, Hijikata paused for a moment. Carrying a smug air of superiority about him, he then continued
“……….. It’s oil… from a tuna can.”
Having listened in without really listening, Shinpachi’s eyes involuntarily closed half way. “W-whatever rocks your boat man…… is that it? Tuna can oil? I really don’t see how that’s relevant here, at all.”
“It’s not the tuna from the tuna can. It’s the oil… from the tuna can. That’s what’s lacking in the mayo lunch.”
But then why the space between “tuna can” and “oil”?
“You look unimpressed, Sougo” There was an unsatisfied look in Hijikata’s eye.
“It’s not like that really. If I’m feeling tempted later on, I’ll give it a go.”
“That’s the worst compliment I’ve ever heard”. After Hijikata tutted his lips, Okita shifted his gaze.
“By the way, Sougo, were you texting someone just a moment ago?”
“Ahh, you mean this? It’s a dating site. See, the guys who do these kinda things are idiots with reputations for being unattractive, so you’d just think that it’s a waste of time, you know”
“I see what you mean. Still, something’s bothering me here. Isn’t that my cell phone?”
“Yeah, it’s for the dating site. I wouldn’t use my cell phone for those kinda things now, would I?”
“I see, that does makes sense… hey, you got a death wish!?” said Hijikata, aiming to slice off Okita’s neck as he was getting out of his desk.
“Well, that’s a waste…” thought Shinpachi to himself, while gazing at their discussion “…. what a pointless argument.” Then, at that very moment, the sliding door at the back of the classroom suddenly crashed open.
The idiot that possessed such a dumb booming voice was Isao Kondo. The description of him as “a gorilla putting on a tough face” was completely at odds with his more sensitive side. Regardless of the sort of virtue he possesses, he holds on to a seat as a member of the public morals committee along with Okita and Hijikata. Kondo, who had just entered the classroom, immediately rushed over to Tae Shimura’s seat. Funnily enough, by looking at the surname of Tae Shimura, you can tell that she is Shinpachi’s older sister.
“No no, Otae. You’re looking all the more beautiful on this fine morning. It’s like you’re wearing a navy blue sailor uniform with a pure gold dress. Ahahaha!” Kondo himself felt that he had unveiled an A+ pick-up line. However, Tae gave him the cold shoulder while looking through a magazine (which incidentally happened to be a special edition titled “A thorough introduction to killer strategies! How do you get middle-age burly guys to withdraw their cash?”)
“It could just be your excess energy from the morning, Kondo, but I’ve told you several times already. Could you please stop calling me such an old-fashioned name like “Otae”? We’re going to be third year high school students from now on.”
“No, don’t do that!” thought Shinpachi, whose face twitched in reaction, “don’t just make remarks that sound like you’re suddenly tweaking graphic settings, Tae. You may think you know what’s possible and what isn’t, but in Year 3 Class Z of Gintama High School, doing what you’re doing will only deepen the rabbit hole that is this conversation.”
“Whoops my bad! I guess I can’t escape these “Gintama” habits after all, hahahaha”.
“Wait, are you really doing this!? Don’t just use the original series as an excuse for your bullshit!” ignoring Shinpachi, who was face-palming himself, Kondo started up his conversation with Tae once again.
“Well, since you’re very much a high school student, “Otae” just seems too antique, doesn’t it? Right, what can we do about this? Would you like to try the name “TaeTae”?”
“Don’t joke around. Like, I will kill you.” Tae got back to her magazine having not lifted her face up from it.
“So it’s no good? Right then, how does “Taerin” sound?”
“Sounds like an energy drink ingredient, doesn’t it? Like, I will kill you.”
“So you don’t like that as well? Ok, how about Taetan? It feels sort of sweet”
“It’s the end of the world isn’t it. Like, I will kill you.”
“Still no good? Well then “Taetin Taentino”………..”
It was at this point that Tae’s patience had run dry.
“You persistent little bastarddddd!” with her enraged voice rising and magazine in hand, she smashed Kondo’s face in. It didn’t sound like a whack, it was more like more a hammer, due to the fact that Tae had used the pointy edge of the magazine.
“Woah…! Ow! Pointy! Otae! It’s pointy! It’s going to kill me! This paper has become a deadly weapon! Gahhhh!” Within 3 minutes of entering the classroom, the contemptible Kondo had walked himself straight into a bloodbath. Despite this, Shinpachi had zero sympathy. This was Tae’s and Kondo’s battle. He would go to school every morning to witness a scene just like this one.
With that in mind, there are also students in 3Z who quietly seclude themselves away in their own little worlds. Take, for example, the seat in front of Kagura, which belongs to a long haired male student, Kotaro Katsura. Currently he was by himself, facing his desk and writing something down. Intrigued by this, Shinpachi tried asking him about it:
“Hey, Katsura. What’re you writing there?” Quickly turning to face Shinpachi, Katsura said, “This”, holding it with both hands to show Shinpachi the desk-wide notebook. In it was a mysterious creature drawn with an incredible amount of realism. Mysteriously, the non-speaking creature looked identical to that of a penguin ghost. Or to put it in slightly more detailed terms, it wears a duck’s face on a penguin’s body, and is a creature with an extremely unorthodox appearance.
“Don’t you know what it is?” asked Katsura. “It’s my pet, Elizabeth”.
“I know what it is……”
“I know what it is, but there’s nothing I can say about it. You drew that, in your notebook? Furthermore, why draw it so realistically? Ah, you just laughed a little bit right there. Why with the laughing?” thought Shinpachi as he responded with an awkward laugh, averting his gaze from Katsura. He couldn’t understand if Katsura, from his perspective, was doing all this with some sort of goal in mind. Prying into it any further would be risky.
In a seat to the left of Katsura’s, Taizo Hasegawa was browsing through a part-time job magazine with an earnest expression on his face. Wearing his sunglasses, the beard on his chin is all that remains of him, with his old-man-like appearance attributed to the fact that he really is an old-man. “Excluding midnight jobs, there definitely isn’t a job with an hourly wage above 1000 yen”. His murmuring can be heard quite prominently.
Whoa there Hasegawa. I thought the bloodshed from this morning was concerning, but so is that utterly blue mood of yours. However, at the seat furthest back in Hasegawa’s line, a single male student was silently immersing himself in knitting. The scene however doesn’t really inspire an “ahh, what a warm morning glow” kind of vibe.
This student goes by the name of Hedoro, and when talking to you up close, his face is ridiculously scary. It makes you think of the heroic complexions of the Kamakura period’s Buddhist sculptures that are highly dignified in nature, although putting it bluntly: their demon like nature is just freaky. A lion-like mane covers him from the back of his head and all round his neck; he carries a pair of horns that grow from his temples and curve like a water buffalo’s. Considering that a notable person like him finds pleasure in diligently knitting away at something, he would win the award for biggest enigma of the year, or something to that effect.
However, if Hedoro himself were to write something he could be proud of, it would be about how to be graceful and amiable; loving flowers and animals to name a few and condemning all conflict. Ah, he looked me straight in the eye just now. Uhhh, I’m sorry, you really are quite scary…….
Um, well, with a state of affairs like this, the place known as Class 3Z is like a treasure trove for these characters. Even excluding that introduction just now, the class is swarming with strong students and, to be honest, if I had to describe how it feels at this point, the whole school building is more like an amusement park, you know? That’s what it feels like at least.
“Today is the first day after all, it would be great if I could get through it without anything eventful happening……” thought Shinpachi who quietly pushed his glasses back up at the time.
Kagura’s very loud, booming voice echoed throughout the room. “You shithead cat-eared wretch! Should I chew you up like a meatball this time!?”
“Would you just shut up about chewing me like a meatball or whatever!”
“Wait; are they still going at it!?” Just as Shinpachi was taken aback by this, Kagura brandished her right hand in a grand fashion. She intended to aim a punch at Catherine, but as Kagura went in for the hit, Katsura had the misfortune of being in the seat in front of her, resulting in Kagura landing a critical blow on the back of his head. “——–!” as Katsura was silently lying prostrate on his desk, a pulsating bump rose from the back of his head.
And now, back to Tae’s fiery outburst
“Forget about that and get away from my damn seat alreadyyyyyy!!” Tae and Kondo’s battle (which was more like a one-sided lynching) still raged on.
“Quit acting like you’re some pretty boy basked in moonlight, you’re just pissing me off!” together with her voice, Tae violently threw the fashion magazine. Naturally it was aimed at Kondo’s face, but he promptly dodged it, as though it had the killing power of a destructo disc; as a result, it scored a direct hit on the back of Hasegawa’s head. “This looks short term unsurprisingly…gawaah” Hasegawa fell face first onto his desk, his magazine covered with blood. Immediately after that happened,
“Bastard, you were making a suicide pact on the internet just now, weren’t you!?”
“Uhh, Hijikata, about that “I want to have a look at the red spider lily one more time if that’s ok” line….”
“You said that!? That sort of thing!? The hell kinda wish is that!?” said Hijikata, pursuing the fleeing Okita.
“It’s hopeless…” thought Shinpachi. Wishing that things would just be peaceful and quiet doesn’t fly in Year 3 Class Z. It’s in these idiots’ nature to raise hell. Words can’t really do justice to such a dysfunctional class “…just look at this, the class is in utter meltdown” Shinpachi muttered to himself.
It was then that the sliding door at the front of the classroom suddenly opened. Standing there was a single man. From his glasses to his white lab coat and necktie, everything on this curly white-haired man looked untidy, with the smoke in his mouth only further fitting in to his image. “Shut it, it’s almost nine in the god-damn morning. Is this supposed to be second year of Junior High, you sodding bastards?” The man in question was none other than Class 3Z’s homeroom teacher, Ginpachi Sakata Sensei.
He’s well, how would you put it, the complete antithesis of a teacher; that’s the kind of man Ginpachi Sakata is. Whether it’s in the classroom or wherever, he’ll calmly be smoking away at a cigarette. Not to mention his dead-fish eyes: he didn’t look like an educator by any stretch of the imagination.
“I mean, c’mon now: before I came in, you guys weren’t even using your 19 sheets of Japanese manuscript paper. I’m completely fed up with having to wait for you all.” With a impatient remark like that, he certainly didn’t appear like a character from a novel. Whether it’s his unruly looks, abnormal nature or zero PTA credibility; this man largely deviates from the teacher mould, whichever way you look at it.
Nonetheless, it was a fact that this teacher was endowed with a mystifyingly powerful presence, because when Ginpachi entered the classroom like he did just now, all those noisy students would get back to their seats and face his direction without a second thought. When Ginpachi dumped the register sheet on his desk with a slap, he would always call it out in a listless voice.
“Ok, let’s start homeroom. Day duty, give out the orders” with that being said, Shinpachi remembered that he was up for today’s day duty.
“Ah, right. Sta–……” Ginpachi cut him off even though he was speaking.
“Ah wait, from today the orders are “stand up” “attention” “tag” and “Gintama””
“oh god; that’s genuinely what he has in mind” however, even with his objections, it was turning into a pointless exchange right before his eyes. Shinpachi began once again to call out the orders. But then Katsura’s voice rose.
“Sensei! I don’t understand the point behind replacing “sit down” with “Gintama”!”
“The point?” scowled Ginpachi at Katsura, with one eyebrow raised, “the point is written in a hidden page within your student diary. Find it and read it”.
The calls of “Sensei!” continued and before he knew it, the round glasses wearing Kagura raised her hand.
“My student diary, I… exchanged it all for toilet paper at the waste paper exchange!”
“How many centimetres of toilet paper did you receive for that tiny diary? Or just go exchange yourself for toilet paper, why don’t you?”
“Sensei!” this time coming from Hijikata, “just now when Okita was peeking into my student diary, he wrote my name on the blank pages and left lots of X marks behind them!”
“Are you a bullied occult kid or something?” said Ginpachi to Okita.
“Whoa, that’s a pretty ancient manga you’re referencing there”
“About time I made a move” thought Shinpachi, as he opened his mouth. If they continued to keep acting stupid, then he wouldn’t be able to get anywhere with the orders. “Stand up–” the students followed his orders. “attention’, “tag”, “Gintama”. The meek Shinpachi had completed the remaining orders. Once all of the students had taken their seats, Ginpachi also had something to add:
“Due to how uninspired this was, we’ll be doing it all over again starting tomorrow.”
“We’re sick of this already!” Shinpachi thought, but didn’t openly say.
Ginpachi went on and suggested “uuuh, right then, onto this morning’s homeroom agenda”. While the smoke from Ginpachi’s cigarette made his eyes squint, he turned around to pick up the chalk. As the banging sounds from the chalk rose, letters filled with ennui appeared on the blackboard:
An early-term test
After he finished writing, Writing that down, Ginpachi then turned around and faced the students and said “is… coming. Next week. For this early-term test, you guys will have to score 80 points or above in at least one subject. If you fail this test, for each week thereafter you will run a whole marathon under my instruction”
“Huuuh,” cried the whole class.
“Class dismissed” saying that, Ginpachi was about to leave the classroom.
“Wa.. wait Sensei!” in his own flustered panic, Shinpachi caught his tongue. No matter how you looked at it, Ginpachi’s words didn’t contain anywhere near enough explanation.
“What do you mean by all this? We have to get 80 points or above?”
“Correct. If you don’t achieve at least that, then from every week thereafter, all of you guys will run until you get a runner’s high”
“No, Sensei, you’re just a Japanese language teacher. How could we possibly run a marathon under your instruction!?”
“Well, perhaps we could read ancient Japanese poetry while we’re running the marathon?”
“Wouldn’t that just make it even more difficult!? What would be the point in doing that?”
“Sensei! Please let us read the “Kokin Wakashu” instead of the “Man’yoshu”!” shouted Kondo in protest.
“Either one’s fine! I mean either one’s terrible!” pointed out Shinpachi, causing Ginpachi to turn around and face him.
“Sensei, if you don’t explain the reason for all this, then we aren’t going to accept it!”
“Well… if you say so” Ginpachi returned to his desk, scratching his head, “you know, I should call the Headmaster’s office.” said Ginpachi who had begun to speak but then stopped.
“Or, considering that I just spoke to him earlier, I could just summarize it in a flashback scene. Read it after the next * comes.”
“Hey, what makes you think this is a novellllll!?” objected Shinpachi. His protests were to no avail, and thus the flashback scene continued.
The Headmaster’s office wasn’t anything particularly unusual: In the centre of the room was a sofa and centre table, with a window situated in the back behind the Headmaster’s desk. At the desk was the (god only knows what number) Gintama high school Headmaster: —– Headmaster Hata. The complexion of his face was a horrid purple colour. From above his forehead was an antenna that lightly waggled in front, and big, rounded curly hair that curved around the bottom of his bald head. His eyebrows have a noble round form to them, along with his khaki-peanut like eyes that looked devoid of any loving qualities. By the side of such a Headmaster was the shades wearing geezer Vice-Head Otsuki, who had a most un-amused look on his face.
It’s 8:30 in the morning. After the morning meeting in the staffroom, Ginpachi was called out to the headmaster’s office. “………. look, I’m going to be frank with you, Sakata Sensei” Headmaster Hata cut straight to the point. “The students in your class have been receiving terrible grades. The scores on this test? Aren’t they as high as the age of an child actor? Based on this, you’d expect that they hammer out similarly average scores for every single test” said Headmaster Hata, with a viscous quality to his voice.
“I do get it. I am a homeroom teacher more or less” responded Ginpachi who reclined back into the sofa, smoking a complimentary cigar that was placed on the table.
“I mean, it didn’t seem like he listened to a word I said, did he?” After the Headmaster was quietly enraged, the Vice-Head loudly rebuked back at Ginpachi.
“Sakata Sensei, take this more seriously!”
“I geeet it” Ginpachi took out a handful of cigars from the table to put in his pocket, and then stood up in front of the Headmaster’s desk.
“You’re robbing me of fresh air you do realise… well, enough about that….” when the Headmaster finished his small cough, the conversation went on, “… anyway, if the students’ literacy falls; it’ll affect the other classes’ morale. Even though they’re in the same school, it’s only those kids who are idiots, right? Or perhaps, they’re morons, right? Or, rather, they’re imbeciles, right? That’s what they seem like, right?”
“Well, what’re we going to do about it then?”
“That, Sakata-Sensei, is up to you…… see, here’s the thing: I think you should take more of a hard line with the students.”
“A hard line… you don’t mean that if the grades fall….” Ginpachi gulped on his own saliva before continuing, “I should give them a slap on the wrist?”
“Aahhh, the nostalgia. I mean, it just makes me want to slap your brain matter into shape. Wouldn’t you agree?” When the Headmaster slammed an antsy fist to his desk, he began his explanation. “In the next early term test, all of the class will have to get eighty points or above in at least one subject. If they aren’t able to pass the test…”
“Slap on the wrist”
“Not doing that”
“Then, a poke on the forehead”
“Absolutely not. I’m begging you, just hear me out.”
The Headmaster fixed his posture, and then carried on. “If they cannot pass the test, all of class 3Z will have to go to school on the weekend for supplementary lessons!” the Headmaster then thrusted his finger at Ginpachi. “Aaand, Sakata Sensei, I’ll cut your salary by twenty percent!”
“——! Bu…” Ginpachi had both eyes wide open “A twenty percent cut!?” in a fit of rage he tore off the Headmaster’s antenna.
“Ow ow ow ow! Why did you tear it off!? Why, forget a twenty percent cut, this calls for a hundred percent cut! Considering my charm point here is worth a hundred percent….” The Headmaster was screaming in pain while blood poured from his forehead. However, Ginpachi ignored all of that, continuing his speech:
“Stop joking around here. It’s those idiots’ fault, how could you cut my salary!?”
“Well it can’t be helped now,” said the Headmaster while taking short breaths, “if you can’t do that much at the least, then Class 3Z will become baggage to the school; they will become an embarrassment. That is a responsibility you hold as a homeroom teacher”
Ginpachi was, for a brief period, speechless. “So you’ve already decided on this?”
“I mean, this… this is what you’ve decided on?”
“That’s right. After all, I’m the Headmaster, you know. I’m distinguished, you know.”
“……That’s fine by me then, you bloody Headmaster”
“Uh, you’re the one who made me “bloody””
“Get eighty points in at least one subject? Fine, I’ll go ahead and do it. Or more like I’ll make you do it. Weekend supplementary lessons? Twenty percent pay cut? Tsch, with such a half-arsed punishment like that, you must be taking the piss. Don’t just make it weekends, include the supplementary lessons on weekdays AND a ten percent pay cut, that’ll do me good that will.”
“No can do, if you don’t take such a nonchalant self-punishment seriously, it will get the whole school exposed.” the Headmaster kept a sneering eye on Ginpachi.
It was here that the vice-head butted into the conversation. “But, how are we going to deal with this, Headmaster? For all the trouble Sakata Sensei has caused us, he has made us a proposal, so if we could also hold supplementary lessons on weekdays after school?”
“How does that sound, Sakata Sensei?” the Headmaster faced Ginpachi with an appraising glance.
“I don’t really care. Just change my pay cut to ten percent”
“I won’t budge on that, you know. Seems like you want to focus on your pay first rather than the students?”
“Understood, well then, start collecting them up.… the early term tests for next week, that is. All of the students in class 3Z must get 80 points or above in at least one subject. If they are unable to clear that hurdle, they will all attend supplementary lessons every single day. And then, as their homeroom teacher, you will get a ten percent pay cut. How does that sound to you?”
“It’s a deal, Bloody Headmaster”
“Uh, that bloodiness is only because of you, remember?” said the Headmaster, who wiped the blood off his forehead, and put on a bold smile. “Well, I look forward to the upcoming results.” Ginpachi didn’t return the reply, and left behind the Headmaster’s office.
“And that’s how things went down. Class dismissed” said Ginpachi, as he tried to exit the classroom.
“Class isn’t dismissed you know!” cried Shinpachi as blood vessels protruded on the back of his neck, “the hell kinda convenient agreement is that supposed to be!?”
“Everyone’s right, yeah!”
“No doubts here!”
From all corners of the classroom, there was ever increasing criticism.
“The point, Sensei, is that even though you shrewdly lightened the punishment just for yourself, don’t think you’re going to get away with this!” said Hijikata.
Kondo also continued after him, “he’s right, Sensei. I mean, considering you talk about so much pointless stuff, are we even going to reach the targets of those supplementary lessons even if they’re on weekdays?”
“What he said, yeah! Originally in the country I was raised in, we had this saying, yeah! “Weekday supplementary lessons are a no-no. Pea green is a nasty colour””.
“If we’re killing time until after school hours on weekdays, I’ll never have time to take Elizabeth for a walk!”
“I mean, if all this happens, then I can’t get employed. How much hourly pay are those supplementary lessons going to cost me?”
“Complain to the Headmaster!”
“Chuck that agreement in the bin!”
“White curly haired bastard!”
“Perm head!” ….. and on it went. The booing from the students was continuing to escalate. Not knowing when they would be done shouting, Ginpachi was speechless, but only for a little while.
“Shut up! You damn animals” threatened Ginpachi, bending his neck like a delinquent from the sticks, “where the hell’s your victim meeting at? you sodding bastards. You all going to set up a press conference for the plain suit wearing reporters, haah?” With that cold, cutting tone of his, the hailstorm of booing died down for the time being. Ginpachi laid both hands down on his desk, and with a sigh mixed in with all the cigarette smoke said this “Look here, you miserable lot. You should all start thinking about how you can get yourselves some compensation, the girls especially could think of a way to get their chests groped with both hands.”
“Sensei, quit it with the sexual harassment threats,” the female students protested.
“Getting back to the point” continued Ginpachi. “This whole sorry mess is all because you imbeciles have brains the size of a pea. My methods are guaranteed to work properly, so how could he talk about cutting my salary?”
“But Sensei” Shinpachi politely asked, “whether we complain to the Headmaster, or whether we lower the hurdles some more, or whether we at most keep the supplementary lessons to the weekend.…” Before Shinpachi could end his speech “Don’t speak so damn pitifully” said Ginpachi, as he shut Shinpachi out.
“Listen up, you miserable lot” said Ginpachi. “It doesn’t have to be all subjects. It only has to be one subject. Eighty points. Just give it all you got.”
“I can’t do it!”
“Human beings have things they can and cannot do, and this is the latter!” So went the near instant replies of the students.
“It’s not impossible. I believe in you guys.” said Ginpachi with a nod, continuing off once again. “You hear that? You guys are a bunch of rotten oranges! Ah, that’s not what I meant; you guys aren’t a bunch of rotten oranges!”
“Wait, are you mistaken? Like, that’s the most regrettable, pathetic speech I’ve ever heard! Apologise to Kinpachi Sensei! Apologise to your real-life inspiration, you fraud!” The students’ retorts this morning bursted with much enthusiasm.
“Ah shut up! Shut up! Shut up! In any case!” said Ginpachi glaring at the students. “For the next homeroom, we will hold an emergency test countermeasures meeting. Class Dismissed.” Ginpachi exited the classroom scratching his arse despite him still wearing his white coat.
“Ho ho ho. Good, good. This development is very good.” A laptop was laid on the desk, sitting there was Headmaster Hata, gazing at the broadcast of Year 3 Class Z being shown on screen.
“Ah, what’s this?” responded the Vice-Head who was on the sofa reading Business Jump.
“Uh hey! Business Jump is great and all, but come have a look here, Vice-Head.” The Headmaster changed the direction of his laptop so it could be seen by the vice-head standing in front of him.
“Is this CCTV footage?” asked the Vice-Head while looking at the display.
“Yes. In the Class 3Z classroom, there’s a surveillance camera I’ve set up in quite the sneaky manner.”
“That’s pretty short on details, that explanation.”
“It’d be great if it could show clearer footage. Also, cease the casual talk.”
“My bad, I mean, I’m sorry.….. then are these images supposed to show something?”
“It’s not just something. Look at them, the unsatisfied looks on those students’ faces. Moreover, just listen, listen to all their moany complaining.” said the Headmaster with a few chuckles. “I mean, if I was suddenly listening to such a story first thing in the morning, I’d also want to complain about it”. The Headmaster’s eyes glistened while he snickered to himself. At this moment, he was in the process of imagining how the situation would develop. He was in the mood to be singing his own praises.
The early term test.
Score eighty points or above in at least one subject.
“If they can’t do it, supplementary lessons follow, and then the homeroom teacher gets a salary cut….” the Headmaster had no reason to be doubtful about the decline of Class 3Z ’s academic abilities as he put his plan into motion. Instead, his aim was pointed somewhere else entirely.
His hatred of Ginpachi.
This feeling of the Headmaster was becoming a point of departure in his plan. With his white naturally curly hair, drooping glasses, and dead fish eyes, this man known as Ginpachi Sakata had none of the elements that made up a typically popular personality. Nevertheless, what’s the reason behind it? The apathetic bastard managed to do a decent job (no seriously, it was a decent job) of getting the students on his side. If Ginpachi was the funny man, then the students were the collective straight man; the opposite also being true. With the extent of what he could see of that balance, it felt as if the solidarity of indifference in class 3Z was strong. Moreover between a small fraction of the girls there were remarks made such as “Ginpachi looks nasty kinda like a squid, doesn’t he?” (according to the Headmaster’s investigation).
The Headmaster was not pleased about this. “How? How is that completely listless man winning over the students? I really…. really, no matter how I hard I try I don’t receive even one measly chocolate on Valentine’s Day, I don’t get a love letter put into my shoe cupboard, I mean, is there a girl who put a love letter in my shoebox today? Not only that, my partner is repulsive, being none other that geezer vice head who already pisses me off.” In any case, the headmaster did not approve of Ginpachi’s actions. He really quite despised him. So in that case, those petty, little grievances are seemingly what caused his current plan to take shape.
The Class 3Z students, who possessed nothing but Bavarian cream like grey matter, at first found the idea of scoring eighty points or above beyond their capabilities, even though they only had to do well in one subject. It looked like it was only a matter of time before Ginpachi’s salary got cut. “Considering his already meagre salary will be cut once again, if I could think of a way to lower that guy’s morale, he-he-he” thought the headmaster (who seemed to forget that Ginpachi was the one who had somehow talked him into lowering his pay cut).
But, despite that.
With what the current surveillance camera footage was showing, it appeared that a rapidly rising discord was reverberating throughout Class 3Z. If that was how the weekday and weekend supplementary lessons were going to be, then those dumb students would be why, and with Ginpachi being blind to his own idiocy, he would undoubtedly face the brunt of their resentment. If that happened, then Ginpachi’s clout as a teacher would plummet.
“Oh my, I might just be an absolute genius, ho-ho-ho” laughed the Headmaster.
“I’m telling you, that’s a seriously nasty personality you got there. You’re reaching the depths of envy real fast” before he knew it, the Vice-Head returned back to sofa talking as well as reading Business Jump.
“And that’s why I don’t allow casual speech”
“Shut your damn mouth already baldy… I’m sorry”
“Uh, that outburst just now went beyond a mere “slip of the tongue””
“I’m sorry. I mean, look, we’re still getting along with each other just fine….”
“Getting along with each other? That’s my head you were talking about, that line of hair, uhhh wait, I definitely remember it…”
“But how could something you just forgot be that big a deal to you?”
“And that is why I shouldn’t hear you speak so casually! Should I kill you? If I did that right now, I would understand what it feels like to be a guy who killed a man, if only just for a moment!” The Headmaster then hurriedly applied a bandage to his forehead to quell the flow of blood that was pouring out.
With the clapping of cheap sandals ringing, Ginpachi arrived at his desk. The returning homeroom time has begun. “o-k, well then, let’s get on with the ‘how do you do an early-term test? Emergency counter-measure meeting’” said Ginpachi as he faced the blackboard with chalk in hand. With a clanging sound he jotted down some words on the blackboard.
Conditions for clearing:
Get 80 points or above in any one subject.
Long hair, and punks not allowed.
Having written those conditions down, Ginpachi put down the chalk.
“That’s the gist of it.”
“Sensei!” said Katsura instantly, “Two of those rules seem like recruitment criteria for rock band members! Also does this mean I’m not allowed in according to those conditions ?”
“That long hair of yours, that’s what not allowed” said Ginpachi, “or rather, that wig? I don’t really care what it is, but hurry up and get it cut.”
“Sensei, I really am going to sue you over this. I’ve already started prepping the paperwork.”
“Sensei! I play guitar better than most people, could I enter that band?” said Kagura whilst having a wooden spoon at the ready.
“You should first of all go to the library room and investigate what “guitar” means.”
“Sensei!” this time coming from Okita, “After the live concert has ended, there’ll be band members wrecking the instruments, but when that time comes, I want to destroy a piggy bank!”
“That’s a ground-breaking idea” replied Ginpachi.
“Bu, but how even……” the alarm bells were ringing inside Shinpachi’s head.
“Sensei! Let’s make Otae the singer for the band!” said Kondo who was the only one making the suggestion.
“Sh, she has an erotic, Kumi Koda like feeling to her, it could be her cleavage you might say” however, before Kondo could continue on that tangent, from behind his back came Tae who approached him like a Shinobi, with her sailor uniform scarf she constricted Kondo’s neck, “aacch” gargled Kondo as he suffered from Cyanosis.
“Ho, hold on, everyone!” stumbling over his own words, Shinpachi stood up.
“What’s up Shimura, looks like you have something you want to say” said Ginpachi.
“No, there’s too much wrong to talk about here! What is going on with this conversation!? Isn’t this supposed to be about test countermeasures? How did this turn into a “let’s start a band!” kind of conversation!?”
“Hey, now whose fault is that?” said Ginpachi making it seem like it wasn’t his fault caused by somebody else
“Uh, it’s yours! You’re the one who decided to write “long hair and punks not allowed” on the blackboard!”
“Can it. You just played along with it for a bit there”
“There isn’t a situation to play along with!”
“It’s as Shinpachi says.” Rising up from over there was, ooh, Hedoro. “Let’s do this properly ok, properly” said Hedoro holding the most evil looking facial expression.
Ginpachi responded “I, I got it. Do it properly so you won’t properly kill us……” he nodded as his face turned pale. And with that the meeting was back to square one. “Well, that’s about it” said Ginpachi as the ashes dropped from his cigarette. “Whatever methods you use, I don’t care, just as long as you get eighty points” “Whatever methods you use….” repeated Ginpachi in an intensely sincere manner.
“uuum, Sensei, about that…..?” said Shinpachi listening in timidly.
“It’s settled then” said Ginpachi with an evil-sounding laugh.
Even though those last two shouts were completely irrelevant, the surprise in the students’ voices had risen. With that evil-sounding aura swelling up once again, Ginpachi said this, “Of course dear students. If we cheat on the test, getting those eighty points will be like taking candy from a baby.”
“Sensei! That’s childishly cruel!” replied Kagura
“Get real here, that test will wipe the floor with you” replied Ginpachi.
“Yeah, but Sensei, cheating is absolutely…”
“We have to stop this,” said Shinpachi gently raising his objections. “I say this as the conscience of Class 3Z.” As he said this, he was aware that whether he played the straight man or the funny man, he was still just as stupid as the rest of the class.
“You dumb or what!?” said Ginpachi in astonishment.
“This is the test counter-measure meeting this is. I mean, seriously, isn’t this an cheating meeting where everyone is equally involved?”
“Whoa, something’s off about that “equally involved”!” then, at that point
A voice suddenly appeared. Looking over his shoulder, his older sister Tae was standing by his side.
“Shinpachi…” with an expression that was somehow full of affection, Tae continued “aren’t you a man? If you really are, then how you going to do this without being able to cheat even once?”
“but, you’re talking about it like it’s some sort of brawl…”
“Is that your fear spilling out? Don’t worry. As long as you learn to write down ‘spill’ three times on the palm of your hand, there’s no way that fear will ever spill out”
“Well that’s the first time I’ve heard about such a good luck charm! I mean, that sort of thing just isn’t going to work!”
“Look here Shimura” shouted Ginpachi’s voice, “this isn’t the time or place to be grumbling about trivial bollocks. Can’t stand supplementary lessons? What about me, I could be facing a damn salary cut over here”
“Yeah, but….” Realising that the whole class was now watching him, the hesitant Shinpachi was frozen stiff.
“Shinpachi! Shinpachi lad! Lets’ get on with it! Shinpachi lad! That’s it, Shinpachi lad! Pachi-lad!”
“No no no, this is all wrong! Are we really going to cheat after all? Even our homeroom teacher is taking the initiative here…….” Shinpachi fiercely complained, but the chanting of the nickname Pachi-lad didn’t stop. “What is it with this class…… aren’t there any allies I can rely on?” thought Shinpachi as his eyes scoped out the room. Then, upon looking at Hedoro’s seat he had an idea. “That’s it. The evil-looking but kind-hearted Hedoro. Surely he wouldn’t want to cheat….” or so he thought.
“Shinpachi, let’s cheat our way through this together” said Hedoro with an ominous sounding tone. “Heeh? You too Hedoro? Wait, I see, since that guy’s the type who values the harmony of the class, he would be a supporter of cheating after….. all… is this really happening? Aaaaaargh, I don’t know anymore!”
Ginpachi made doubly sure to tell the disarrayed Shinpachi “accept your fate, Pachi-lad!”
“But, it’s against the rules to cheat. If we were to do such a thing….”
“I geeet it!” yelled the irritated Ginpachi. “How about this? On the dawn of this year’s culture festival, you’ll call up the idol Tsu Terakado! ….. to do that, you’ll meet up with her personnel to plan it all out! Can’t complain about that now, can ya!?”
Shinpachi Shimura — the President of the Tsu Terakado fan club felt like his insides had been struck by lightning. “There is no reason for me to complain!!! Unggggh! Damn you sensei! Got to think of an airtight way to cheat right noooow!” and just like that, Shinpachi had a change of heart.
“In conclusion, we’re cheating” said Ginpachi lighting up a new cigarette. “Hey guys, don’t any of you have a solid way of pulling this off?” In response to their Homeroom teacher’s inquiry, the class was presently umming and ahhing away as they began to think of ways to cheat.
When they actually tried to come up with something, nothing good was coming out of it. It was surprising given the concept of cheating itself is easy. Writing answers on pencil boxes and rubber cases, passing on answers to the students next to you, several of these staple techniques have existed since time immemorial. However, in this case the condition was that the whole class had to get a high score. There was no helping the fact that there wasn’t a single person in the whole class that could even get a good score. If none of them could find a way to share around information, this entire meeting would be meaningless.
Before long, Hijikata raised his hand “Sensei, can I suggest something?”
“Let’s hear it then” as Ginpachi pointed at him, Hijikata explained his idea.
“We should use mayonnaise. We’ll write the answers on the blackboard with mayonnaise. Then before the test starts we wipe it off. If it works, then the letters on the blackboard should sparkle when the light shines on it, shouldn’t it?”
“Anything else? Anything at all” said Ginpachi averting his eyes away from Hijikata.
“You’ve already rejected it!? Would it kill you just to consider it a little more!?”
“Look here mayo-head, that idea of yours could only pass muster in the kingdom of mayonnaise” with Hijikata quietly dissatisfied, Okita was about to stand up.
“Sensei, how about my idea?”
“Let’s hear it then”
“How about I knock out the test supervisor with a blunt weapon? Or perhaps I could put the supervisor to sleep with some chloroform.”
“Anything else? Anything at all”
“I know, Sensei!” this time coming from Kondo “How about we all master sign language with a sign language class? That way, if we could tell each other the answers….”
“Anything else? Anything. I mean c’mon”
“Sensei!” over there was Kagura who suddenly rose from her seat.
“I got a good method, for real for real!”
“For real real? Ugh, whatever. Let’s hear it then”
“It’s going to be difficult pulling off a strategy using only this class, yeah. That’s why we should borrow some help from outside the class”
“Ok” said Ginpachi as he expressed interest. “Are you really being honest with yourself? Does this plan of yours seem concrete enough to you?”
“He-he” laughed Kagura as she explained her plan. “There’s a dog called Sadaharu in this school, yeah. Everything’ll be ok if we use Sadaharu” looking at Kagura’s Sadaharu, you would assume he was a demon-like dog who had gotten himself lost in some school. Unbeknownst to them, something had gotten itself lost in Gintama High School, and also unbeknownst to them it was a giant brown-bear like dog who had settled down in the school, called Sadaharu. Kagura was attached to the dog since she was the one who bestowed the name Sadaharu on him. However, if he had a chink in his furry armour it would be playfully gnawing on human heads….
“Ooh. And how exactly are we going to use that dog?” asked Ginpachi.
“We’ll make Sadaharu bark from the schoolyard, yeah. If he barks one time, then the answer is A, if he barks 2 times, then the answer is B, something like that”
“Now I understand” said Ginpachi with a lamenting sigh. “I see, so we’ll make that dog… bark? Ok, here’s the thing though, who’s going to teach Sadaharu the answers? Like, how is that mutt going to be able to try such a poorly thought-out stunt like that? Who’s going to train him? Ahh I’ve had it with this, tell me something intelligible, China girl!”
“Did you get that, China girl!?” said Kagura as she grabbed Shinpachi’s collar.
“No, that’s what you are! You’re the one who falls under the categories of both “China” and “girl”!” and as Shinpachi’s glasses slipped further down, his screams increased further in volume.
“I mean, for crying out loud, do you guys have grey matter made out of Bavarian cream? Don’t you guys have any better plans?” clearing up the question of whether he was irritated, Ginpachi spoke without even trying to hide it. “Take this for example, Tae Shimura. You could dazzle two of the teachers with your looks like a one-two punch, and then you can service them in a threesome. If it all works out, then they’ll tell you the test questions ahead of the —-” even though Ginpachi hadn’t finished speaking, something launched over from Tae’s direction. Flying in at super-sonic speeds, a… mechanical pencil grazed Ginpachi’s cheek as it stabbed itself into the blackboard. After the piercing bang like sound calmed
“he he he, oh Sensei. I’m not going to miss you the next time.” Tae, taking a stance like that of a drawing compass, gave a wry little smile.
“Aah, um, sorry about that….. I also somewhat – so, actually, I mean, I’m really sorry about that” apologised Ginpachi, his face twitching with tension. At that moment, Shinpachi had unexpectedly noticed something. “Wait…… it’s great that you’re coming up with a ways to cheat, but aren’t we forgetting something crucial here?” thought Shinpachi who decided to stand up and speak out.
“Uh, could I have a moment?”
“What is it, Straight man?”
“Don’t call me by role! Call me by name, by name” gently easing his temper, Shinpachi continued forward. “Um, when we were going out of our way to come up with a plan, it felt like we were forgetting something important.”
“What tho what tho, did you just up and become a master detective? Ya Plain four-eyed straight man.” snarked Kagura.
“Did you just call me plain? You did just call me plain right now, didn’t you?” he thought he might be able to go toe to toe in a fight with the China girl, but on second thought, he decided to carry on with his speech.
“See originally, I understood the idea of cheating as getting the test answers ahead of the test, but the act of glancing at other peoples’ papers during test time? Well, see, for example whether you write down mathematical formulas, peek at chemistry symbols, or English syntax beforehand, you could look at that as cheating, but regardless, not getting eighty points or above isn’t going to fly right now and if we’re going to cheat, that degree of cheating isn’t going to give us the test score we need, is it? And that’s the thing, in this case we’re directly relying on those test answers, but where are we going to pick up these answers? And then, what sort of subject should we try cheating on in the first place? Since there are these various things that we can’t overcome, we can only come up with ways to cheat, or otherwise this whole thing will feel pointless….”
In Shinpachi’s long, winding monologue, the Bavarian cream like brains of Class 3Z were utterly spacing out. “Did you guys understand a thing I just said?” after Shinpachi asked this, Ginpachi and the students below him were simultaneously silent. With their lacking academic abilities, they were dealing with a humongous task ahead of them, and the feeling of hush continued for a little while more.
It wasn’t long before Ginpachi began to speak “yeah, um, Shinpachi. You’re saying in short that if we’re going to cheat, we have to first get the test answers.”
“So then, before that, we have to settle on which subject we’re going to cheat on”
“Right, you see” Ginpachi spoke with an empty smile on his face “about the test answers, I can’t really acquire something like that.”
“But don’t you create the test questions, Ginpachi Sensei? If you’re creating the questions in Japanese language, then surely you have all the solutions.”
“Nah, the job of creating those test questions is more, how’d you say, not like a funny man, straight man dynamic, it consists more of how a normal Sensei would do things—”
“Sensei, that’s a weird thing for even you to say” Shinpachi pointed this out, but Ginpachi didn’t respond back. Soon, the shortly silenced Ginpachi began to talk while considering his words carefully.
“In short, that’s what it’s like I guess, Shinpachi? We… can’t cheat… is what I’m saying I guess?”
“Yeeeah” responded Shinpachi with hand attached to chin, looking up at the ceiling “See, I was also aware how long my monologue was, but I guess it really did seem that long, huh”
“I see, so we can’t do it? That seems true. I don’t know the questions, that also seems true…… no, you cannot be serious, god damn it!” without warning, Ginpachi went and threw the chalk from the blackboard. Yellow and white chalk lodged themselves into Shinpachi’s nostrils, like video and sound cables plugged into a TV.
“What do we do now, what do we do now!?” screamed Ginpachi. “I… was already going to cheat…. no no, was going to totally make you all cheat! Actually, you know what you’re like, Shinpachi? You’re sorta like today when I thought that I would eat curry at the curry shop but the shop was on break. Isn’t that “hey hey, this place is just a curry hole in the wall though!” feeling of dismay similar to what I’m feeling right now!? Say, just what is a curry hole in the wall?”
“Hell if I know!” said Shinpachi letting out a scream of agony as he extracted the chalks from his nose. The thought of cheating had vanished into the mist. Upon this realisation, and with their backs against the wall, Class 3Z had suddenly whipped themselves into a frenzy, leaving Shinpachi subjected to a critical stoning in a kangaroo court.
“Stop bullshitting us four-eyes!”
“You crushed all our dreams!”
“Shut up, like why’re you guys going after me!?”
“Zip it, plain boy!”
“P-p-p-plain boy? Who said that, who said that just now!?”
And with the state of affairs like this, Class 3Z had started going from one big dispute to another.
“Humph, with their smarts, they’re probably not capable of something like cheating” Headmaster Hata was filled with glee as he watched the CCTV footage on a PC.
“So that’s what they really had in mind, cheating” staying in character, the Vice-Head was on the sofa reading an issue of Akamaru Jump.
“Aah, that doesn’t surprise me. I mean, seriously, you never read the Weekly edition of Jump do you…..”
“A copy of Jump is still a copy of Jump”
“Well, whatever you say” replied the Headmaster returning his sights to the display. The Class 3Z gang were still in dispute. Whether it was more like parliament, or pro baseball, it was a spectacle that resembled a fight scene. It wasn’t possible trying to cheat with the shallow thinking of those dimwits, and Ginpachi wasn’t even the person who came up with the test questions, so the idea that they could get eighty points by cheating was impractical at best.
“Right then, Class 3Z. How are you all going to deal with this, situation? Ho ho ho” went the cackle that reverberated throughout the Headmaster’s office.
“We’re in quite the pickle here…” said Shinpachi as he started to come up with something. “I don’t think we have any choice but to genuinely study for this, considering the test is only one week away” while saying this, Shinpachi really did think to himself that they didn’t have a choice. The whole class, teacher included, were very much mistaken about trying to cheat.
“How could he say that? He’s not a samurai” they thought to themselves.
“Whoa whoa, you mean genuinely study?” said Ginpachi intending to heckle him. “Like what’s even the point in doing that? What about their quirk of their brains being, like, Bavarian, cream?”
Without feeling disheartened, Shinpachi repeated himself. “I imagine that it’ll be tiresome. But really, we should still try to study. By genuinely studying hard, we’ll get the eighty points fair and square.”
“Yo Shinpachi, those are some nice words you got there, fair and square. I think I wanna be like that too” saying such a thing was Catherine.
“Aaah, at last someone agrees with me” thought Shinpachi who was teary-eyed but when he looked in Catherine’s direction, he noticed that this cat-ear girl had both arms tattooed with math equations and English idioms from the upper arm to the forearm. “Wait, are you a bassist from a heavy metal band or something!? I-I really don’t know what a punchline to this would even sound like!” Shinpachi aggressively threw the rubber that was next to him, but the cat-ear girl swiftly dodged it. “I’m telling you!” screeched Shinpachi as he slammed on his desk “We should forget about cheating! We’re studying! We are studying!”
“But look, Shimura” said Hijikata “if we’re going to study then which subject should we pick? We’re going to not cheat, so I think we should focus on studying one subject.”
“Definitely” nodded Shinpachi in agreement.
“Focusing study entirely on one test subject doesn’t seem like a good plan in this case. Because you’re idiots after all, heh heh. Because your brain capacity is tiny, tee-hee.”
“Then, which subject are we going to focus on?” asked Shinpachi, to which Kagura immediately raised her hand.
“Noo” interjected Ginpachi.
“Wall newspapers!” went the opinion of Okita.
“Also noo. At least name a subject, guys”
“Healthcare science. Where we explore the inner workings of impregnation.”
“That’s not even listed. I mean, that’s your field of expertise, Tae Shimura. Ah, wait, I’m sorry, don’t throw the pointy things at me.”
“How much would the unemployment insurance payments add to up?” asked Hasegawa.
“Hey, are you a social security lawyer? If so, then that’s kinda incredible.”
“Quit mucking around, guys!” said Kondo as he lost his temper.
“This isn’t the time or place to be doing a comedy routine! Let me have a crack at this! How does gymnastic formation sound, Sensei!?”
“I’d rather crack your skull open. I mean, there isn’t a test subject like that in all of Japan most likely.”
“Couldn’t we….. do English?” thinking that now seemed the best time, Shinpachi put himself forward. “I think we’ll probably have an easier time studying if we pick English. Thing is, I’ve actually been holding on to some information.”
“Information?” asked Ginpachi, his eyes narrowing.
Shinpachi nodded in confirmation. “Does no one know about this? For early term test English, look, that textbook we use in class, there’s got to be at least three questions set in the exam from that “applied questions” book. If we completely memorize those questions ahead of the test, then that’s probably twenty points in the bag.”
“English, eh? hmm” Class 3Z would ponder this idea for a little while. Then eventually
“English is well `ard tho” said Catherine.
“Wait, that seems weird!” rebutted Shinpachi. “I would’ve thought of you as someone who had English as a forte! Your name’s Catherine to boot!”
“Well, that’s cos I use, whatsit called, the Queen’s English…”
“The Queen’s English? Do you even know what that means!? like c’mon!” About to blow through the roof, Shinpachi’s voice blew up.
“We don’t have a choice but study English! The set questions we know from the textbook only come up to twenty points. That leaves sixty points. If we study like our lives depend on it, we might just make it!”
“You know, he’s got a point there” the students were still continuing to mutter among themselves. At that moment, Ginpachi began talking.
“Given the situation, there’s no point idly chattering among ourselves. Shinpachi, I’m giving you and class the go ahead. From this point onwards every day until test day, we’ll study English in the remaining after-school hours.”
“Sensei……” Shinpachi was filled with a sense of relief. Something about it felt odd to him, studying in the remaining after school hours to avoid the after school lessons, but even so, he was filled with a sense of relief.
“Around ninety eight percent of him is pure garbage, but the remaining 2 percent, it’s filled with burning, passionate heart. This kid……” thought Ginpachi as he looked at him. “You hear that, you lot? We’re through with cheating” said Ginpachi in conclusion. “We’re doing early-term test English, study it with all you got, and you’ll get eighty points or above for sure. If you don’t, you’ll be reciting poems from the Man’yoshu while working a vault horse”
“Has anything changed since this morning!?” Someone retorted, but hey, Class 3Z just about managed to hold itself together.
“Dear oh dear, it’s sickening isn’t it? The mood in that classroom. It’s like they’ve actually become functional.”
Gazing at the display, the vice headmaster knocked a bulky jump volume onto his own shoulders. “this should be a monthly edition… can’t be, it’s still in my hands.”
As he was watching the surveillance camera footage, the headmaster said this. “It’s still in my hands….. but with everyone united like this, they’ll pass the test! Oooh, I absolutely won’t tolerate this gleefully youthful atmosphere, damn you Ginpachi…….”
The “How do we deal with the early-term test? Emergency countermeasure meeting” came the following day. The after school studying session had begun. With English being the subject of study. Even so, the class were only starting to come to grips with the subject in their effort to completely memorise the textbook exercises.
“Kno…. know better than to…. something something I am not stupid….. know better than to…. something something I am not stupid……. Oh, stupid, I am…” Kondo, who was struggling with the idiom questions, all of a sudden just couldn’t deal with it any longer. “Grrhhh!…. th-this is impossible! There no way I can do this….. trying to completely memorize all these questions…”
“Don’t talk so pitifully in front of me!” hollered Ginpachi as he wore a jersey and held a bamboo sword for whatever reason. “You’re not trying to become a foreigner here! All you have to do is remember the answers to write down for those questions! Now quit your daydreaming at once!” as Ginpachi bashed him with a bamboo sword, Kondo would slowly but surely wake up his body.
“….. uughh, this entrance exam English, it’s sure hard….” overhearing Catherine’s grumbling,
“Can it, cat-eared foreigner! Memorize this Japanese entrance English this instant!” screamed Ginpachi who was about to smack the bamboo sword onto the floor
“Let’s see…. after Mike wraps Nancy’s body with a straw rope, he holds a leather whip….”
“Okitaa! We’re not doing that sort of chapter!”
“A…apple. B…book. C…cat”
“What kind of high school English is that, china girl!?”
“Are you happy?”
“Why are you reading rock star auto-biographies, Hasegawaa!? And you repulse me, Shinpachi!” said Ginpachi as he swung his bamboo sword on Shinpachi’s back.
“Ow oow! Hey, you hit me eight times!? The hell kinda teacher are you supposed to be!?”
“Shut up! I’m only doing this cos none of you numbskulls are taking this seriously enough!” roared Ginpachi, but nonetheless students all around Class 3Z weren’t getting used to studying and were, against their better judgment, trying to escape their fate of being total idiots. However, as the study session moved along, the various combinations of idiocy also fell; the students couldn’t help but reach a point where they grew accustomed to their textbooks.
“Do your best, guys” thought Shinpachi “it might be tiring, but things like this…… they’re what youth is about!”
“Stop giggling like an idiot!” said Ginpachi as he bashed Shinpachi with his bamboo sword.
Day three of the study sessions:
It had become a situation where sentiments such as “they’re what youth is about!” felt like distant memories. With a little over three days of cramming, the already study-allergic Class 3Z was already reaching their limit. Their lower eyelids darkened, their cheeks scrawny and hollow, even with their less objectionable studying methods, Katsura was foaming at the mouth from nausea, Kagura was getting auditory hallucinations, and Hasegawa ended up with an odd quirk in which he started eating sunglasses. Already coughing up blood on the first day, by the third and current day, Kondo was suffering from the triple whammy of coughing blood, vomiting blood and shitting blood. This is the state Class 3Z find themselves in, with many students just barely short of adequate health.
“Guess I haven’t got a choice now” said Ginpachi surveying the grogginess of the students. “There’s going to be a mass grave in this classroom before the test even comes. First aider!” after Ginpachi said that, the female student in the seat left of Hedoro stood straight up.
“Did you call for me, Sensei?” answered the female student, who wore cell-frame glasses, had long hair spilling onto her shoulders, and very much a beauty. Her name was Ayame Sarutobi, otherwise known as Sacchan.
“First aider, from now on you’ll be providing first aid to students in need. Perk these guys up, you hear?” commanded Ginpachi to the appointed Sacchan whose cheeks faintly blushed in agreement and began briefly surveying the situation inside the classroom.
Before long, she zeroed in on a lone student—- Kondo, and before she got to his seat “you seem like the most ill person here, don’t you?” she seemed to say with an alluring/fascinating voice. “ah, no, me…..?” said Kondo with a quivering tone. “Yeah. I mean you. From now on I’m going to……. perk you up real nice” as Sacchan said this, she tucked her right hand into her left arm cuff. At the very next moment there appeared, around thirty centimetres in length, a giant needle grasped in her right hand. “Here’s some acupuncture” her voice filled with energy as she wore a blank expression. “Now, where would your acupuncture point be? The one that’ll make you feel all better?”
“Yeah, where would it be….. if I don’t know, then could you stop with…..” the petrified kondo with his few remaining hit points indicated his intent to resist, but it was too little too late. He was pressed down on top of the desk, his trousers and pants dropped completely
“Probably here, isn’t it?”
“Wai, sto, stop it…. stop it quit it stop it quit it stop it quit iiiiiiit” immediately following his scream of sheer debauchery…… Kondo had ascended, freed from his mortal coil.
“Umm, Sacchan, enemas and acupuncture are different thi…..” stopping Shinpachi in the middle of his retort was a lurid scene.
“Ok ok! Time for some fighting spirit, you guys!” said Ginpachi as he slammed his desk repeatedly. “If you don’t buckle up, our first aider will perk you up real good!” Sacchan listened to Ginpachi while feeling shy about it herself.
“Uh, Sakata Sensei. When the study session starts to fall a step behind, should I also, perk myself up?”
“Uh, um, what kind of request is that? Like, don’t do that.” said Ginpachi with his face reflexively stiffened.
Well, setting aside an exchange like that, with the abnormally behaving teacher and brutal first-aid provider’s support (rather than confinement or coercion), all of Class 3Z continued to stand firm in these study sessions they called tiger pits. They completely memorized the textbook. More than that, they were studying with confidence in their own abilities. With where Class 3Z were standing, bunny hopping up the Tower of Babel drunk would have also been a piece of cake. With one week left, a vague sense of hope had persisted among them. And in spite of their physical and mental exhaustion, they somehow still managed to find some fight for the study sessions.
And then, the big day had finally arrived.
“….Like, the questions are totally different!”
The very day of the test.
Looking at the assigned question papers, Shinpachi was internally screaming. “Eh? No no no, what are these questions? The… textbook… that textbook we desperately memorized in full, I can’t see its questions anywhere!” This unforeseen circumstance wasn’t the only thing the class had to worry about. Given that they had to get sixty points with their own abilities, Shinpachi and the rest of the students had done all they could this past week. In order to fully translate the long passages from the textbook to Japanese, they memorized new vocabulary from lining up the last lines of the pages together, they memorized the locations of the accents, and they memorized the idioms and so on. They had exhausted all the possible methods. Yet despite all that…. their efforts were utterly useless in the face of the difficult questions that came one after another.
Currently in their test paper, unknown vocabulary and idioms are on full display.
“In the textbook’s long passages, Nancy, Mike and Bob were dragged into some minor trouble at the airport, and were reacting to it like oh shit, but in this question paper’s long passage, I have to flip through some sodding thing with Eric, Vincent and Glenda that’s probably about environmental issues! Fuck! It… it’s completely meaningless to me……” Shinpachi had turned pale. His face blushing with a colour like that of a bad liver.
Then, suddenly behind him to his left came a crackling sound. When he looked for the source of the fleeting sound, Kondo with an incredible look on his face was glaring towards the direction of Shinpachi. In the palm of his hand was a broken mechanical pencil.
“You twat, what the hell’s going on here!? None of what we’ve studied has even come up!” Kondo’s eyes painted the whole picture. After that, sounds that were like crack, crack, crack came from here, there and everywhere. They were also the sound of a broken mechanical pencil. Thusly, the originators of the sounds were all of the students, facing him with a gaze that was filled with killing intent.
“You bastard, isn’t this different from what you said it would be?”
“Y-you’re the one who’s saying that!” said Shinpachi who wanted to cry his eyes out. “It’s just, I didn’t think there was any way these difficult questions would ever be in the test, also up until the test, it looked like the questions from the textbook were going to come up! Damn it! I can’t hold the tears back anymore!…..” but, even if he did cry, it wouldn’t have changed anything. That was the only thing he could do in the face of these questions. Regardless, he knew that getting eighty points in the test was mostly, no, almost certainly impossible, that’s what it seemed like.
In a corner of the classroom leaning on the wall was the test supervisor, Ginpachi. With cigarette in mouth, he had his eyes fixed on the scroll above the blackboard titled “Sugar content”.
“It’s nothing like mountains and rivers persisting even through the fall of a nation. The general isn’t going to succeed even if he leaves thousands of bleached bones in his path. You’re making a big fuss over nothing, so would you just pipe down.”
Gintama high school’s early-term test was over; all of the subject tests in all of the classes had been handed back. Afterwards, Class 3Z were wondering what their results would look like…… though really what else was there to say. There wasn’t a single student who had obtained eighty points or above on the test paper. If anything was blatantly obvious, it was that. Focusing on the single subject of English, they studied it until they had one foot in the grave, but despite that, the English in that test turned out to be astonishingly difficult….
“It’s settled, yeah!” said Kagura. It’s homeroom time. At a moment when the class atmosphere had crashed right back down to a new low, Kagura continued. “I’ll bring my English text book down to the waste paper exchange, yeah!”
“You sure like this waste paper exchange place, huh” said Ginpachi in a cold tone of voice.
“But look!” said Kondo with a booming voice “a textbook that didn’t come up on the school’s internal tests isn’t a textbook anymore! It’s a “if you’re a person who loves studying English, go right ahead” book!”
“Kondo, since you’re done blabbing already, quit it shouting about it in your gargantuan voice book!”” replied Ginpachi.
“That doesn’t sound like a book at all! What’s up with that word ending?” Kondo fired back, but perhaps due to gloomy mood of the class, it really backfired. There was no doubting it; from this point onwards Class 3Z would take supplementary lessons every single day. And thusly, it was decided that Ginpachi’s salary would also be cut.
“Everybody, I’m so sorry!”
“It’s all my fault. All because, I decided to focus on English….. all because, I went with that textbook… I’m so so sorry.” The classroom fell silent. It wasn’t too long before Ginpachi slowly started to talk.
“Shinpachi, raise your head” he said with a forgiving tone.
“There was nothing we could do, about any of this. We gave it everything we had. And well, even though the results weren’t quite there, the class united to focus on a single goal. I’d rather celebrate that aspect of this whole affair.”
“zenze… ah damn it! Now the tears won’t stop!”
“But regardless, Shinpachi” giving a small smile at the same time, Ginpachi was for a short while in-between two emotional states “it really is all your damn faulttttt!” All of a sudden Ginpachi had completely changed, and his yelling increased in volume. “What other choice did we haveeeee!?” Is what Ginpachi’s voice seemed to signal, as the students started to rush down on Shinpachi as if they we’re swarming him.
“You making fun of us!?”
“What else aren’t you telling us!?”
“Stop being so cocksure!”
And so, abuse of all kinds rained down incessantly on Shinpachi.
Fists. Foot soles. Karate chops. Fire extinguishers.
“Ho, hold on!” Shouted Shinpachi from the hypocentre of the violence “Is this happening right now? Is this the class currently uniting to focus on a single goal?”
It was that very moment. The sliding door at the front of the classroom opened,“hoo-ho-ho” the high and mighty laugh coming from both Headmaster Hata and the Vice-Head. “My my, it looks like I’ve intruded into this class right at it’s violent peak” whilst Hata was saying this, he rose up to the teacher’s podium and stood by Ginpachi’s side. The ring of violence surrounding Shinpachi had dispersed by now, and thus everyone had returned to their own seats.
“What’s the purpose of this?” asked Ginpachi. There was no expression on Hata’s face.
“Oh no no no, there isn’t a so called purpose behind this. I just thought that I should gaze upon the visages of these losers if only for a short while” the way he said this boiled the cosmos of murderous impulse raging within the students of Class 3Z. The Headmaster spoke once again. “By the way my loser friends. You probably know this already, but your supplementary lessons will be starting in after-school hours today. You’ll also have to go to school on the weekend, where will you take the same kind of supplementary lessons. In addition, Sakata Sensei will take a ten percent pay cut. I bet you forgot about those two parts of the deal, didn’t you?”
“I assumed that’s what you were talking about, Headmaster” replied Ginpachi as he blew cigarette smoke onto the Headmaster. “There’s something about all this that I just can’t wrap my head around.”
“What?” while clearly despising the smoke, the Headmaster gave a look back to Ginpachi. “Between you and your class of dimwits, you all betted on the English test. But why on earth would you even do this? Although even if questions from the elite La Salle High School weren’t in the test, the actual questions would have been just as difficult, wouldn’t they? Ho, ho ho….” The Headmaster interrupted his laugh for a small moment. “I mean really, this is Gintama High School, not La Salle High School, Nada High School, or some other elite school.”
“I see, it’s all coming together now. Let me clear up exactly why the questions were so difficult in that test.” There was an unusually frightening touch to Ginpachi’s voice, and before the Headmaster knew it the vibe of the classroom had become ice cold.
“Ho, ho ho ho, why it seems that now is the time to explain to you what happened. For a thing such as the test difficulty level, should the time and circumstances permit…..”
“The time and circumstances?” said Ginpachi as he pushed his drooping glasses two millimetres up. “So this was instigated by you guys after all? Did you set up these ridiculously hard questions after talking it through with most of the English teachers?”
“On what basis do you claim such a thing?” said the Headmaster, as his purple face turned a vermillion red. “The point is that we probably didn’t have any way of knowing you fine people would have betted on English. Right, Vice-Head?”
“That’s how it is. I mean, that is certainly the case.”
“So you had no possible way of knowing….. just spit out already.” Quietly muttered Ginpachi as he clenched his right fist. The Headmaster was visibly flustered.
“He, hey, buddy….. vi vi vi vi, violence is…..”
“Sensei, don’t do it!” shouted Shinpachi as he reflexively stood up from his seat. Without a doubt the Headmaster’s stomach was churning. “Don’t forget, violence isn’t tolerated. If you hit him, you’ll be fired right on the spot.” But Shinpachi’s warnings were to no avail, for Ginpachi had swung his clenched fist.
However, it curved right before the Headmaster’s eyes, skimming his nose, slamming into the blackboard.
The dramatic sound echoed throughout the classroom as the Headmaster and Vice-Head pretended not to notice.
This is what immediately followed.
Due to the impact of the punch, the scroll framed above the blackboard separated and crashed down to the floor, with the sound of glass breaking up and the sound of the wooden frame splintering into pieces. As the combination of the two echoed throughout the classroom, the “Sugar Content” scroll gently fell out of the frame.
“Well well” said Ginpachi “So, Headmaster, what’s the meaning behind that surveillance camera in there?” With Ginpachi’s words, the whole class shifted their attention to above the blackboard, something was hidden behind where that frame was hoisted. “ah—-” said Shinpachi letting his voice slip. There existed a gap in the part of the wall where the surveillance camera was planted.
“Wha, but, that’s…..” said the Headmaster as he tripped over his own voice.
“I see,” said Shinpachi as he went to the gap in question “with this camera, our situation was…… that’s how he knew we were going to focus on English” Shinpachi’s chest increasingly simmered with anger.
“He recorded video of me with that camera, I’ll never become a bride now, yeah!” said Kagura outraged, although this time nobody was listening.
“But hold on here. By hiding the camera behind the frame, how was it even possible for you to record video of us?” Although Shinpachi harboured doubts of his own, Ginpachi began to talk.
“What a dirty, underhanded method to use. You cleverly placed the camera on the other side of the picture frame, about midway on the rice radical (米) to the left of the “sugar (糖)” kanji. It was the perfect place to open up a hole, place the camera, and peek into the classroom.” It was explanatory, but it wasn’t easy understanding Ginpachi’s words. Despite that, the outline still remained clear.
A hole was dug up through the scroll paper and the frame into the wall. From that hole, the surveillance camera recorded video of Class 3Z…. That’s seemly how it went.
“With the surveillance camera you could secretly spy on the classroom, Headmaster” said Ginpachi with a cold, cutting tone. “What, you think tattling to the PTA or the Heisei board of education will do you any good?”
“Uuh, that isn’t even a real board of education” after the Headmaster spoke with an ever-receding voice, Ginpachi thrusted his finger forward. “Well, I mean saying that I set up the camera probably doesn’t even count as evidence!”
“It’s evidence this, evidence that with you, isn’t it?” Said Ginpachi blowing some smoke. “You really are the worst in the universe at knowing when to give up.”
“Heh, but you can’t really say that it’s connected to me now, can you!? And since you’ve got no evidence, I’ll win this, won’t I!? I’m higher up on the ladder than you, so the Board of Education is going to trust in my side of the story!”
“Bastard…” the swaying Ginpachi stepped up to the Headmaster.
“He’ll batter him for sure this time..……” Shinpachi for a moment held his breath.
“This ends right now” from the back of the classroom, someone spoke up.
All eyes faced towards where the source of the voice. Reclined on the back wall of the classroom huffing and puffing on a cigarette was none other than Gintama High School’s Board Chairwoman, Otose, otherwise known as Ayano Terada. Stylishly wearing a thinly inked kimono, she was the queen of the night, or more like, the mother of the school.
“Chairwoman….” groaned the Headmaster.
“Headmaster. This harassment of yours have been going since before you even came here. You called the English teachers up to your office, and instructed them to make the test absurdly hard” said the Chairwoman as she pulled a roll of tape from her sleeve “and I’ve got all of it recorded right here.”
“You’re kidding me!” said the Headmaster reacting in a clichéd fashion, taken aback by the claims. “I mean what? A bug? The Chairwoman of all people set up a bug in my office?”
“That makes us even. You like to talk, but it also emerged during your conversation with the English teachers that you set up the surveillance camera in this room. You can’t slither your way out of this one.”
With a gulp, the Headmaster was lost for words. The Chairwoman spoke to Ginpachi with a quiet whisper “Ginpachi. About the Headmaster, he was getting displeased about the support you were getting from the students even though you came across as a bored slacker. So that’s why he acted the way he did.”
“Tch, what a pathetic little man he is” said Ginpachi with a single glance at the Headmaster who snorted his nose.
“It’s because I, because I……” whimpered the Headmaster on the verge of tears.
“At any rate” said the Chairwoman blowing a long thin trail of smoke “it’s about time we wrap up this dull little quarrel. Class 3Z’s supplementary lessons and Ginpachi’s salary cut are no more. And, Ginpachi, don’t go tattling about this incident to anyone relevant. That shouldn’t be a problem for you should it?” with a sigh, Ginpachi faintly nodded in agreement.
“If that’s what the chairwoman says, then that’s just how it’ll be” he then turned around to speak to the Headmaster.
“This is how it’s going to work, Headmaster. The class’s supplementary lessons are history. In addition, my salary will also be upped ten percent.”
“I said nothing about upping your damn salary!!” sternly rebuked the Chairwoman, who as ever, liked to speak with a razor-sharp tongue.
“Un-understood…..” with an ever-receding voice, the Headmaster capitulated.
“Well, looks like you lost this time” said the Vice-Head in an encouraging manner, laying a hand on the Headmaster’s shoulder.
“Uhh, you’re part of the team here! What’s the deal with that bystander get-up of yours?” While the furious Headmaster and the calm Vice-Head carried on bickering, they left the 3Z classroom.
And that was that. Generally speaking, the hardships were a thing of the past for now. Shinpachi breathed a sigh of relief looking over the whole class. They all had a relieved look on their faces. And at that moment, Ginpachi was blowing on his right fist that he had slammed into the blackboard.
“Sensei…… thought Shinpachi “to me, you just looked like a fundamentally senseless teacher, but… how can I say this? Just now, if only for a little bit, you seemed so cool……” he was embarrassed that the only feeling he had inside his heart was that one. He could never let such a thing pop out of his mouth. It was there that the Chairwoman breathed a huge sigh of relief.
“Right, and with that, I’ll now excuse myself” said the Chairwoman as she was about to exit the classroom. It was at that moment that Ginpachi raised his voice
“What is it?” Answered the chairwoman who stopped but didn’t turn her head around. Ginpachi had this to say.
“You saved us. Given that you didn’t even emerge until the last possible second, I was wondering whether you’d even be introduced in lesson one” as the Chairwoman let out a laugh, she pointed out in remains of the picture frame, the area of scattered, broken pieces of wood and glass.
“Over there. You should really clean that up.”
The sliding door then banged shut.
It was the following day. Sneakily appearing by the Headmaster’s office for a short visit was the figure of Ginpachi.
“Wh, what now? If it’s about yesterday, I’m already……” interrupting the flustered Headmaster, Ginpachi spoke.
“This is different. I haven’t come here to blame you any further”
“Th, then what….?”
“Well, you see, here’s the thing” with his voice lowering further, Ginpachi continued. “That surveillance camera of yours, does it record female students changing their clothes?”
“………” the Headmaster was speechless.
“Man, you might not qualify as a teacher after all” muttered the Vice-Head who had a copy of V Jump nestled under his arm.
To read my translator’s notes for this chapter, click this link below:
To read chapter 2, click this link: