「I had some trouble looking for a kitchen specially approved for food sales as well as a person in charge of food hygiene, but I finally got through it after pressing a committee intermediary.」
「…Huh? Uh… What?」
「Where’s the recipe for the cookies? And the designs?」
「…Where, I wonder?」
I give a distant look.
I didn’t think he would still be taking this seriously.
「Make sure to submit your recipe and stool test by tomorrow.」
He hands me a bag as I respond lifelessly.
It’s a stool test kit.
「I wanna confirm something beforehand, just in case. You’re not breeding any pinworms or salmonella, are you?」
「No I’m not.」
Even if I am, it’s not like I’m doing it on purpose.
「The health center will grant us permission as long as you pass the stool test. Once that happens, the executive committee will do so too. They have a condition that we form a group of 6, so you and I will each find 2 other people and send our application. We’ll go with that plan.」
He says that I can just borrow my friends’ names without much effort, and I retort that he doesn’t have any friends.
As we go to his place, I see a cluttered room in place of the usual tidiness.
「What’s all this?」
There are multiple cards with drawings of elves.
「Ah, these cards are an experimental product to go with the cookies. It’s just going to be both of us, and we need to sell as many cookies as we can within a short timespan. One strategy is to use these cards.」
Mizuhara moves the printer while operating the computer.
「There was an obstacle course at a sports festival competition in my high school.」
He suddenly changes topics to his high school’s sports festival.
I can’t imagine him running in an obstacle course.
I can imagine him going all out in a bread eating competition though.
「There was an obstacle we had to crawl under in the race. They had one on each of the 5 tracks, and they were all of different heights and widths. The one on the left was the shortest and narrowest, which means it’s the hardest to go through. The one on the right was the highest and widest. In other words, they were arranged according to difficulty.」
「Hmm. That’s not really fair then. And?」
「Ignoring the fact that the left hurdle was the hardest to clear, all the racers fought for that one. Why do you think they did that?」
「Who knows? Maybe it would make them look cool.」
「It would make them look lame if they actually tried to make themselves look cool at a competition. That’s not it. On the hurdles were labels that each read Tokyo University, Big 6, Average, Third-rate, and Rônin. Obviously the hardest obstacle was labeled Tokyo U, and the easiest was labeled Rônin. It was a fierce competition, especially for third year students.」
[1. TL Note: Big 6 refers to the top 6 universities in Tokyo.] [2. TL Note: Rônin refers to someone who failed his college entrance exams and is trying again for the next year.] 「As expected of a prep school.」
「It’s just superstition. I remembered that and came up with the idea of these cards.」
Mizuhara arranges 4 cards in front of me.
The first card shows a bearded and disheveled plump elf wearing a jersey.
[3. TL Note: NEET = Not in Employment, Education or Training] Likes depending on his parents.
The second card shows a green and grim-looking elf.
Working Poor Elf.
Likes the misfortune of humans.
The third card shows a normal looking elf wearing a suit.
Likes curry (medium spicy).
The fourth card shows an elf wearing a branded suit and black-rimmed glasses.
Each of them were annotated.
「What’s this? And this Elite Elf looks just like you. Who drew it?」
「A self portrait?!」
Looks like Mizuhara drew the other elves too.
I didn’t know he was so talented.
「I tried to draw you too, but I failed.」
He brought up his failed product on the computer screen.
Now that I look at it, it does resemble me.
It’s an irritating drawing that shows an elf wearing a worn out shirt and jeans, with a speech bubble that says『Only Me』.
That shirt wasn’t the only one I wore, you know.
But the most outrageous thing is the elf’s size.
It’s 10 times bigger than the other 4 elves.
「It’s the size of a name card. You couldn’t fit in there.」
「You could just make it smaller!」
It feels like he drew it in normal size, then enlarged it to an abnormal size.
Mizuhara takes the Elite Elf card among the 4 cards.
「The people in charge of the kitchen and the food hygiene are willing to help us on the condition that we help them sell their food as well. It’s not a ridiculous amount, so it should be no problem. I’m guessing they don’t even have enough to sell.」
He connects to their store’s webpage and brings it up on the screen.
There’s a tasty looking pound cake, and looks like the price is reasonable too.
「We’ll attach the elf cards to the cookies. Only the ones who get the Elite Elf card are allowed to buy the pound cake.」
On the space below the Elite Elf’s likes, Mizuhara adds a line that says: Only those who possess this card may buy a pound cake (@350) while stocks last.
「Leaving the Normal Elf aside, those who get the NEET Elf and Working Poor Elf cards will probably think, How unlucky, maybe I should buy another? As for the ones who get the Elite Elf cards, they will probably think, Since the pound cake is a limited offer, maybe it’s a waste to just buy one? Using consumer desire this way will definitely increase our sales compared to just selling the cookies normally.」
「I’m surprised you could come up with this plan for a school festival, especially during a financially unstable period like this when finding jobs and continuing employment are uncertain.」
「Fairytales are cruel, you know.」
There were unused designs as well: Cabaret Club Elves who like men, Doctor Elves who like incurable diseases, Parasite Elves who like sweet juices. There were no good elves at all.
I would never want to visit such a negative world of elves.
「I’ve printed a list of ingredients and components at the back of this card. There are issues with allergies so you need to confirm it.」
There’s a hole on the side of the card, and a small ribbon attached through it.
Putting the contents aside, I can see that he really put a lot of effort into this.
「Now the question is how to sell the cookies. The best idea I have now is mobile catering. Most of the other food and drink stalls have fixed locations because they make them on the spot, but it’s easy for us to move around since it’s just cookies.」
Mizuhara turns the page.
On the next page is a drawing of a shopping cart with cookies in it.
Below that is a map of the school grounds, and the planned route that points out each step we should go to.
「There are going to be school events such as live comedies and the Miss University Contest. We’ll aim to start before those events begin, and sell the cookies to those guys who get there early for seats.」
It looks like he’s planned to sell the cookies where it’s the most crowded during key time periods.
「We haven’t decided on a name for our stall yet. We need it for our pamphlet, and it needs to be something catchy and interesting.」
「A name, huh.」
「I thought of some ideas, but they were neither here nor there. The first candidate I have right now is JK.」
「JK? You mean Joshi Kôsei? Are you using internet slang? Also you’re making it a lie.」
[TL Note: Joshi Kôsei means high school girl in Japanese.]
It wouldn’t be a lie if you changed it to College Girl.
「JK is short for high school girl?」
「Huh? You didn’t know? Then what……oh, nevermind.」
It’s an acronym for Jumbo Kobito.
[TL Note: Kobito means elf in Japanese.]
「I see, people would normally think of high school girl. Then what about Mega Jumbo Kobito, or MJK?」
「That’s too long, and you’re making the elf too big!」
Mizuhara looks up MJK on the internet and sighs.
「Apparently on the internet, MJK means majika!」
[TL Note: Majika means seriously]
「Hmm. That’ll be good for reference.」
We spend a long time and finally decide on a name.
That’s something we came up with after compromising on each side.
Looks like Mizuhara won’t give up on using the word Elf.