“I have so many problems with this,” Reina declared, seeing it as her unfortunate duty to once again be the sumo club’s only voice of reason.
“Don’t tell me you’re still not used to seeing your brother in his mawashi belt?”
All of the team’s starting members were dressed in their mawashi, the traditional “sumo undies” every wrestler wore in the ring. Assuming they weren’t arrested for public indecency in an hour, the stand itself had been cobbled together from leftover plywood, duct tape, rope, and teensy bit of cardboard, and they were beyond lucky Hinomaru had chosen a day when it wasn’t supposed to rain, considering he was such a caveman when it came to technology that he hadn’t even though about checking the weather channel. Because the fundraiser itself had been set up as an emergency, they hadn’t been able to build a proper sumo ring either – what they had was basically a more primitive version of Ozeki’s old, sand-filled outdoor ring. Reina was convinced it would slide out of place at some point, which was why she had wanted to outline it with chalk, but nobody had remembered to bring the chalk. Furthermore, they’d somehow managed to pick the person with the worst penmanship to handwrite their sign, “test your sumo skills, only 100 yen per bout!”
“First of all,” Reina deliberated over how to gently break all of this to Hinomaru, even though she’d been trying since the fundraiser’s conception two days ago, “don’t you think you’re selling yourselves a bit short? 100 yen barely buys a soda these days.”
“Nah, it’ll be worth it if the low price entices more people into experiencing sumo!” Hinomaru replied, a bit too cheerfully.
“This isn’t about ‘enticing people into experiencing sumo’!” Reina shot back.
“Sure it is! Look, we’ve got a contender already!”
Surprisingly enough, they did. Adding to Reina’s surprise, the kid in question was almost the same size as Hinomaru – well, closer to Mitsuhashi’s height, actually, and way smaller because he lacked Hinomaru’s bulk. The messy, bright red hair was probably what had caused her to think of Hinomaru first. Following close behind were three miniatures, so an older brother most likely setting out to impress his younger siblings.
“A flashy guy like you will definitely want to try sumo,” Hinomaru greeted him.
The guy’s face lit up at the word “flashy”. He grinned widely enough to show off a snaggletooth canine, pointed to himself with a jerk of his thumb and replied, “The name’s Naruko Shoukichi and starting today I’m gonna be a protegy at both cycling and sumo wrestling!”
Naruko’s younger siblings giggled. He looked kind of dumb, however, and Reina couldn’t tell if he was playing pretend for their entertainment or if he seriously believed himself.
“Naruko, huh? I’m Ushio Hinomaru. Just give your money to the nice girl over there” – Hinomaru motioned to the other club manager, Chizuko, who was already opening the lock box – “and let’s get started. And since we have so much in common, why don’t you wrestle against me?”
They weren’t that alike, Reina mused dryly, now that she’d spent just enough time around Naruko to decide he was really annoying. Nobody else on planet Earth would expend that much energy yelling, jumping around, and fist pumping the air just to step into a sumo ring, and it was clear from his starting position that he’d probably never seen a sumo match before. His butt was way too high in the air and his hands were too flat against the ground.
The match was over almost as soon as Kirihito cried “spirit!”, signalling the start. Of course it would be. She gave Naruko a little credit for almost matching Hinomaru’s speed with his charge, but even actual sumo wrestlers would’ve had trouble escaping such a perfectly executed shoulder throw. Never mind this weird kid with the annoying Kansai accent.
To Reina’s dismay, the sumo ring also proved her wrong by staying perfectly in place. (“Wait, isn’t that a good thing?”)
“Not bad, but your posture needs work!” Hinomaru praised him, prattling on for a bit about what Naruko could have done differently or better and how he already had the right attitude to become a sumo wrestler.
“You think so?” Naruko replied with a laugh.
And that takes care of that, Reina thought, happy to be rid of the annoying Osakan kid so soon.
Until all three of his younger siblings began begging him for turns to wrestle with Hinomaru next.