Anime Girl
John Boyle

Mr. Ishizawa told us welcome a new transfer student, a Miss Miyuki Muto who’d just returned from France and would need one of us to show her around our school. The guys in our homeroom sat up. I stared out of the window at a particularly interesting cloud.

The door opened and Miss Muto entered. An audible gasp burst from every guy in the room. I turned to look, bracing myself for another young cutie who’d make sure the ugly guy with the fire-scarred face was so far below her league that my even looking at her would be a crime against nature.

But to say Miyuki was pretty was like saying the Pacific Ocean was large. Miyuki was the real-life version of what lay hidden in the deepest recesses every anime artist when he threw another half-finished sketch into his overflowing wastebasket. Just to add to her out-of-this-world gorgeousness, she’d dyed her hair the deep blue that came in a child’s first five-color paint set.

She did wear our school uniform, but I’ll swear her skirt rode five or six centimeters above the ones the other girls wore and those thigh-high black stockings drew every eye to the smooth whiteness of her upper thighs. Kento, the leader of the school’s karate club, broke the silence by standing, performing an elaborate bow and welcoming Miyuki to his school.

Mr. Ishizawa told Miyuki to sit in one of the two vacant seats. She didn’t walk toward the one next to the still standing Kento, but the one next to me.

I tried to hide my despair as the prettiest girl in the school walked toward its ugliest guy. She smiled at everyone, the drooling guys with their eyes fixated on her chest and the envy-green girls who looked away until she’d passed them.

“Pleased to meet you Yori sensei,” she said with a slight bow and took the seat next to me. “I’ll try not to be a burden.”

Oh god, she was one of those. It’d only happened once before, but once was enough. Some girls weren’t satisfied with just letting a guy know they thought him homely. Some thought it funny to lead him on and get him to hint friendship might be possible before going into an ego-satisfying denouncement of his repulsiveness. I couldn’t go through that again.

Homeroom ended and I escorted her to our first class. Yep, she hung onto my arm. Everyone, I mean everyone and possibly even the school ghost, stared at us. If this had been an anime, smoke would have come out of Kento’s ears.

At lunchtime Miyuki wanted us to take our lunches and eat on the school building’s roof.

“They keep the stairway to the roof locked,” I explained. “No students are allowed up there.”

“But…but,” she stammered. “Japanese students always go up onto their school’s roof. It’s important. It’s where lifelong friendships are formed. It’s where lovers confess their true feelings. Why would they keep such a place locked away?”

“Maybe some of the smaller schools still do that,” I said. “But this is a big school on the seedy side of downtown Tokyo.” I just wanted this craziness over with, so I blurted it out. “You’ll just have to make-do with me confessing my undying love in some green-painted stairwell.”

She looked at me, her blue eyes staring into mine. I braced myself for the coming slap. “No,” she said. “We’ll go to a beach with an amusement park and ride the Ferris wheel. When we’re at the top and looking out over the water at a setting sun–that would be the right place.”

“You’ve watched far too many anime episodes,” I muttered.

She acted subdued for the rest of the afternoon, perhaps my joke had upset her, but I think she was noticing how all the other students pointed at her and whispered to one another.

Gym class was the last period and afterward I met her in the hallway.

“Someone stole my underwear when I was in the shower,” she said as I approached. “The gym teacher just shook her head and walked away when I told her.” I had to look. Yeah, the tight, damp material of her white blouse didn’t hide anything. I removed my jacket and put it on her. When the final bell rang, me and my new shadow headed for the exit.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” We stood beside the school’s gate. “I have to catch a train and go to my job now. You can return my jacket in the morning.”

Kento and four of his karate goons came up behind me. The bastard grabbed my belt and threw me into the school’s gate. I lost my balance and slipped to the ground.

“Get lost loser,” he snarled. “This French cutie wants to hang with us.”

“You’re being a bully,” Miyuki shouted. “Girls don’t like bullies.” She slapped his hand when he went to reach for her shoulder. Karate boy yelped and rubbed his hand.

“Bitch,” he yelled and two of his buddies lunged at Miyuki. They grabbed her jacket–my jacket–and tried to pull her toward them. She stood as immobile as a steel post driven a hundred feet into the ground. The old jacket ripped, and the karate boys ended up holding two pieces. They stood, staring at her now visible chest. Miyuki ran over and stood between me and Kento.

“Leave us alone!” she shouted. “Go away or I’ll hurt you.”

“Someone’s gonna get hurt,” said Kento. “You’ll come with us or I’ll smash in the other side of your boyfriend’s face.”

Miyuki stood with her feet apart as an unexpected wind whipped her hair and skirt. She held her hands to the side as if holding an invisible basketball. I swear she hovered a good ten centimeters above the sidewalk. Then, from every finger, miniature lightning bolts jumped.

“Yeouch!” she screamed. The lightning stopped and she dropped to the ground. Miyuki put some fingers into her mouth.

“Holy shit,” said Kento, she’s not wearing panties. Damn, did you see what I saw! That was for real man.”

“What’s going on here?” Mr. Ishizawa strode over to us.

“The wind blew Yori over, Mr. Ishizawa,” said Kento. “We were just coming over to see if he was hurt.” Miyuki helped me to my feet, and after everyone assured Mr. Ishizawa we were all friends, we went our separate ways.

Miyuki followed me. “Are you really all right?” she asked.

“I’m fine. I just need to hustle to the train station so I can get to my job.” I picked up the remnants of my school jacket. Torn so badly that I doubted my mother could fix it.

“They ruined your coat,” said Miyuki. “I have a motorbike, I’ll take you to that uniform store. Afterward, I’ll take you to your job so you won’t have to wait for a train.”

I took one of her hands, besides the burns on her palms, the tips of every finger appeared blown open. I sighed. “You can’t steer a bike with hands like this. Let me call my boss and claim sickness, then I’ll walk you over to the hospital. It’s not far.”

She looked at her hands. “Skin isn’t very tough, is it? You can use my bike, drop me at the hospital before going to your job.

I shook my head. “I can’t drive a motorbike. I don’t have a license.”

“No problem, my bike has a license on the back. It’s legal.”

“Not a license plate. A license from the motor vehicle department proving you know how to drive. Didn’t you know you needed one?”

We walked to the hospital. Before entering, Miyuki insisted she’d be fine and told me to go to my job. I didn’t disagree, I needed to buy a new jacket with yens I didn’t have.

I debated going to school the next morning. My mother couldn’t fix the jacket and, with my wheelchair-bound little sister needing more medicine, all our available money wasn’t enough for a new one. As I was eating a breakfast, Miyuki banged on the apartment door. She held a neatly-wrapped package.

“I bought you a new jacket,” As I stood wondering how to react she pushed past me, slipped off her shoes and entered our apartment.

“Hello,” she bowed to my mother and sister. “I’m Miyuki, Yori’s girlfriend. I came to take him to school.” She turned to me and held out a little plastic card with her picture on it. “I have a license now.” I looked at the license and learned she was certified to operate motorbikes, cars, trucks, buses and high-speed trains. I handed the license back.

Miyuki owned a huge American Harley-Davidson. I found it erotic to hold her slim waist and glance down at those wind-exposed legs. I did my best not to notice the fender-benders in our wake. We were almost to the school before I realized that when we stopped, Miyuki didn’t put her feet down. We just hung there, perfectly balanced, until traffic began moving again. When we arrived at the school I took one of her hands and pulled off the pink glove. Her fingers had healed. “We need to talk,” I said.

“Tonight,” Miyuki said.

My self-proclaimed girlfriend didn’t hang around me during the day. With innocent foolishness, she approached many other girls and tried to strike up a conversation. Soon, I started to worry that all those put-downs and snubs would break her spirit.

As we left the school grounds she turned to me. “I’ll pick you up after your job and we’ll go to dinner.”

Sometime after nine, she stopped her bike in front of one of those fancy places near the Tokyo Tower. I explained how a dinner in such a place would cost more than I’d make all year. She handed me a credit card. It had my name on it.

I ordered the cheapest item on the overelaborate menu. Miyuki ordered the most expensive. If that card was bogus, I’d be spending the night in jail. “Are you an alien?” I finally ventured after the entrées arrived.

“I’m robot,” Miyuki cut into her cooked-rare Kobe steak. “Wasn’t built on Earth though, so you could call me an alien.”

She kept talking. “It took me several thousand years to get to your planet and my ship traveled at close to the speed of light. It’s easy for me to tap into your simple computers, so I asked Google where a robot might find a guy who’d fall in love with her. Japan came out on top of the list and after watching your television shows, I knew this was the place for me.”

She put down her fork. “I wanted a cool boyfriend and a gang of friends who’d go with us to the beach and fairs and amusement parks and do all the fun things that high-school kids do in Japan.” She looked down at her steak. “But nobody’s any fun. The girls are mean and you’re the only guy in the whole school who’ll look me in the eye–and not just at my body.”

“You are exceedingly attractive, Miyuki,” I said. “I think that intimidates other girls. And those shows–well, they’re about the way Japanese kids wish their world was like. But really we’re obsessed with getting into a university. Those who don’t make the cut, well their job prospects are pretty miserable. After the accident that killed my father and left my sister and I scarred, my mother had to look for a job. She was lucky to find a position cleaning hotel rooms. Without my after school work, we wouldn’t eat most days and we couldn’t afford the special medicines my little sister needs. I’m sorry, but you chose the wrong country.”

“No,” she put her fork on the table. “This is the country with you in it.” She grabbed my plate of vegetable pasta and handed me her uneaten steak. “Eat the nice steak. I’m a robot, so anything I decide tastes great–tastes great to me.”

“Will the people who sent you here come looking for you?

“It takes too long. I’m just one of many thousands of robots my builders sent to every star with the possibility of a planet. We robots have two computers. A basic one for the trip and an AI program that’s only awakened if the destination star has a planet with life on it. If it doesn’t, the computer self-destructs the ship.”

“What! It kills you?”

“More like never be born. Think how awful it’d be to orbit a lifeless planet for several thousand years with nothing to do and no way home.”

“So you lucked out.”

“More than you know. My ship malfunctioned and there was a fire. After it ran out of options, the basic computer woke me up. That was over four hundred of your years ago. I saved the ship, but once we’re awakened it can’t be reversed. Sitting there with nothing to do was awful. Yori, I was so lonely.”

Four hundred years and all the while expecting to be blown up. I put my hand out toward her and she grasped it with both of hers. “You’re so beautiful Miyuki,” I said. “You could have any man you wanted. Why ugly fire-scared me?”

“Remember, my makers didn’t know what the life forms I might meet would look like. So I can change my appearance–and consciously alter the way I feel about appearances. The guys who built me weren’t mean–they wanted me to be as happy as possible while surveying the planet’s development.”

“So you’re here to report on how we’re doing?”

“No. Those guys learned everything you know thousands of years ago. They just checking to make sure that some other beings with a different way of thinking don’t discover how to travel faster than light and rule the galaxy.”

“So you’re stuck here for a thousand years with no assignment?”

“Just like you I was damaged in a fire and my power source is low. Maybe I’ll last a hundred years. Yori, my fellow fire survivor, I want to know a little happiness before I shut down. Please, can you love a robot?”

“Well, if you made your blue hair brown, you’d be the most perfect woman in Japan and no man could help but love you.” I smiled. She stood and pirouetted, letting her hair and skirt fly outwards. A waiter dropped a soufflé. Two diners spilled their wine glasses, one choked on a piece of fish. The old guy at the table next to us clutched his chest.

We now attend a smaller school that lets its students onto the roof. With Miyuki’s more normal appearance we’ve made friends–I suppose our unlimited funds for fairs, amusement parks, and beach trips make us popular too.

My little sister now sees a specialist who assures us she’ll walk again, and my mother gets a monthly paycheck from a fictitious conglomerate. She’s coming out of her depression and last weekend went out on a date. I think she’s a bit envious of how Miyuki walks around with a dreamy and satisfied look on her face most mornings.

So yeah, a human can fall in love with a robot. No problem. Although I’ll never look at a toaster quite the same way again.


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