School is an opportunity that had both benefits and risks.
Since Hina's parents died, all she had left was her older brother, Shingo. He took care of her, watched out for her, and tried to take time off his busy schedule to spend time with her. Alas, a detective's salary was barely enough to help them manage.
It took time for her to realize it at first, but Hina notices that she is doing little to help contribute to the family. Every time Shingo calls her at night alerting her of overtime or comes home tired, she feels a prick in her heart. He says it's no big deal, but the bags under his eyes tell her that he feels the pressure to work hard for the both of them.
Hina regrets and scolds herself for always indulging in her own selfish needs instead of realizing what he is sacrificing for her. She can't resist the idea of Shingo sacrificing his body just to pay her tuition. She has contemplated getting a job after graduating middle school, but he silences her with a warm smile and gently admonishes her for worrying about something so "petty."
He wouldn't be happy if she couldn't make her dreams come true like he did. Just with these simple words, Hina can tell how much her brother loves her and how devoted he is into scaffolding the steps she needs to take to reach her dreams. Touched, she agrees.
Hina feels partially guilty that Shingo let her apply to Ouzu High School, an expensive high school in the Yumemi District. She's at least thankful that her part-time job and her class standing has supplied some financial benefits to lessen the burden on him, but she tells herself not to inflate her ego and let Shingo's efforts go to waste.
The moment Hina steps out her brother's car when he drops her off at the entrance, she puts on a dazzling smile and reminds herself that she is lucky to have an understanding sibling and the opportunity to even attend school. It would be good, she muses, if people like her realize they are lucky, too, and shouldn't lightly take happiness for granted.
School is part of the journey in life.
Eiji enjoys school and thrills in its environment of learning. He believes his passion of wanting to help others comes from his experiences in learning and helping others to learn. He's realized that he gives more than he takes, but it's simply because he hasn't specifically found anything people can help him with. There isn't anything he's proud of being good at, but he thinks he's getting there. School, after all, is part of the journey in life.
On this particular first day of the new school year, the one time Eiji steps in to help results in a bloody nose. He's in the quad looking up class rosters when he hears a loud argument from afar. Turning his head towards the source of the disturbance, he sees a tall boy with dyed blond hair growling at his stockier counterpart. Neither of them have any respect for the school dress codes, and both looked dangerous—the blond boy especially. Eiji realizes that a lot of students were probably thinking the same thing because he can hear them echo his thoughts in quiet whispers.
"What the hell did he tell you?" snarls the blond, eyes narrowing into a glare.
"Can't forgive you," recites the other in a robotic murmur. "Ankh hurt Mezool. Kazari told Gamel. Gamel can't forgive!"
"Tch," the blond tuts angrily, shooting his furious stare at the ground before focusing on the boy in front of him again. "What kind of dumbass would believe in anything Kazari says?" he demands with a slight sneer. "You'd think the number of times he's lied to you, you've figured out how his psychopathic mind works by now."
"Gamel won't forgive you!" trumpets the blond's opponent, and he leaps forward to tackle his offender into the ground.
Eiji has seen too many fights in his lifetime to know how this is going to end up. He notices that the noise is drawing attention from many of the other students and decides on impulse that he should step in before the faculty realizes what is happening. The moment he does, the blond boy swings a fist towards his face, causing his nose to erupt in a splash of blood as he catapults backwards. One minute later, the fight is halted by the school officials and Eiji is sent to the nurse's office.
He comes back to attend the opening ceremony with a bag of ice, tissues, and shame. When he steps into the room, he can feel the eyes of everyone in the auditorium trace his every move as if saying, oh, look, it's that loser who thought he could help everyone but ended up looking completely lame.
In that very moment, he comes to the conclusion that he really hasn't learned anything throughout his years of schooling. Forget figuring out his purpose in life, there's no point in discovering what he's good at when he's virtually useless at everything. With cheeks flushed in embarrassment, Eiji quietly spots an empty chair where his class was supposedly located. His seat was next to a girl, who looks up at him wordlessly with wide eyes when he approaches her. In response, Eiji lightly bows apologetically in her presence before taking his seat, instinctively pressing the bag of ice against his face as though it would stop his face from burning up in shame.
"I saw what you did back there." The words were soft, but Eiji heard them. He looks to his right and sees the girl next to him glancing in his direction again. Unlike the other students in the room, there was something gentle about her stare, and had a twinkle of... admiration?
Eiji blinks and looks away, forcing a shy chuckle. "Yeah, it was pretty stupid, wasn't it?" he says, hoping his grin would lighten up the tension.
To his surprise, she shakes her head. "No," she corrects him. "It wasn't stupid at all. It was brave."
Eiji's eyes instinctively wander to meet the girl's own, and he understands that she's not lying. It's a wonder with what kind words can do to his soul. He finds himself at loss of words to articulate his response to her, but she only smiles softly at him.
"My name is Izumi, Hina Izumi. What's yours?"
School is a load of bull.
This was a motto of life Ankh religiously abided by since he was considered old enough to attend school. School did nothing to prepare one for survival on the streets, did not teach the basics of growth, and had nothing to provide in regards to real-life applications. There was no point in studying when none of that did any good, anyway.
Ankh decides to skip the school opening ceremony by retreating to his favorite spot on the school's rooftop. To hell with everything.
Hundreds of eyes follow Principal Kougami as he leads the opening ceremony with one of his eccentric, gallant speeches. To anyone, they would insist that the students were fervently enraptured in the passion the principal held for the school. Gotou, however, can state otherwise.
"A new school year brings another advent of learning new ideas about the world that surrounds us." The principal drops his raised hands as he paces across the stage. "Here at Ouzu High School, you—" he suddenly stops and points at the student body before withdrawing his arm slowly in a curled fist "—will be the ones who will experience something new. Something... WONDERFUL!" He throws up his hands in emphasis.
There was a pause, and Gotou knows he heard some snickers. Principal Kougami continues as if he didn't notice (Gotou suspects that he probably didn't). "Ouzu stands for the harbor (zu) of kings (ou), where our education is ferried to the privileged." The principal reclaims his place behind the podium. "We duly hope to satisfy your desire towards the evolution of your knowledge." His fingers move against the podium restlessly, ready to make their next over-the-top gesticulation.
Here it comes, thinks Gotou dryly.
As if on cue, Principal Kougami throws his arms wide open and bellows into the microphone, "HAPPY BIRRRRRTHDAY... TO THE COMING OF ANOTHER SCHOOL YEAR!" The room erupts in a loud clamor of applause.
There are times when Gotou feels as though the principal isn't taking himself very seriously, because from behind the curtains, he can hear unrestrained laughter from the students. He can't blame them because it's easy to get distracted by the undulating pace of Principal Kougami's speech. After further contemplation, he thinks it's best to rationalize his rather unique delivery as a "passionate performance."
Gotou straightens his tie and steps up onto the stage to deliver his speech, immediately settling the room into a hush (save for some excited gasps from some of the girls). As the class representative, it was his duty to make sure his fellow peers took education as seriously as he did. The principal might have unknowingly left a hideous scar on the reputation of the school, but he would never.