Anyway, the cute story of the Seigaku third-years' graduation, mostly featuring Ryoma and Tezuka.
~Special Short Story~
Face Graduation and Shoot
. . .
Three days after the Seigaku tennis club, led by Tezuka, got the better of the Absolute King Rikkai Dai Fuzoku in a life-or-death struggle and claimed victory at the national tournament, Echizen Ryoma left for America–
And the days and months passed gently, like turning the pages of an issue of Weekly Shounen Jump, and while the cherry blossoms began to put out flowers happily, the 26th graduation ceremony was held at Seishun Gakuen.
Two female students jogged between the school buildings, carrying a banner with “Graduation Ceremony” written in large letters and countless paper flowers installed around it.
“Come on, Sakuno, try not to trip! Watch where you’re... Whoa.”
She was Osakada Tomoka, the girl who was the leader of the Ryoma cheering squad.
“Tomo-chan, are you all right...”
Sakuno peeked from the edge of the banner with concern.
When they looked, five or six of the flowers attached to the banner had come off.
The two of them exchanged glances.
“Oh no... It’s messed up, but whatever!”
“Yeah~ It’s no good, Tomo-chan.”
“You think so?”
Tomoka stuck out her tongue as she laughed innocently.
“Then I’ll bring tape, so wait here!”
And leaving behind those words, just like that, Tomoka turned the corner of the school building and left.
Watching dumbfounded, Sakuno was enveloped by the warm spring sunlight.
However, in one instant, the situation suddenly changed.
Over there, a lumbering, clothes-wearing gorilla appeared and bellowed.
It was the physical education teacher, Saitouda-sensei.
“Heeeeeey! Hurry up and bring that banner to the gates!”
Said the intensely roaring go... Saitouda-sensei.
Sakuno frantically carried the banner that was about the same height as she was and ran.
She became absorbed in running.
The yell that came from behind her finally became quieter.
Having succeeded in fleeing from that place, Sakuno had come close to the gates.
Her heart was still beating rapidly.
Then, this time someone called from in front of her.
“Hey, where are they having the graduation ceremony?”
The banner was too large and Sakuno could not see in front of her.
She could just barely see the other person’s feet.
“Ah, um... It’s in the gymnasium, so... T... To the right.”
As she said, the voice’s owner moved his feet as if to go to the right.
However, the feet stopped soon, as the person turned on his heel and started walking in the opposite direction, left.
“Hmmm. You’re the same as ever.”
Flustered at the familiar voice, Sakuno lowered the banner and stared in the direction he had gone, but there was already no one there.
Sakuno’s braids fluttered strongly in the wind, along with the cherry blossom petals.
The graduation ceremony rites went on smoothly, and with “accomplishment in the literary and military arts” as his motto, Principal Ishikawa’s long, miserable speech continued endlessly.
“As amazing a principal as ever. He starts with Eh~ too many times. That was already his 75th time~”
Momoshiro grumbled among the current student representatives who were participating.
“Shut up! Can’t you even be quiet during graduation! You blockhead!”
Sitting behind him and also a current student representative, Kaidou scowled.
They stood up and brought their faces close to each other.
“Got a problem, you Viper?”
“Bring it on. Let’s go outside!”
The two of them realized suddenly.
Everyone was looking at them.
The two of them sat back down uncomfortably.
“Honestly, those guys...”
That was Oishi, who was making painful memories until the end.
“We will now confer the graduation diplomas!”
Then each graduate was handed their diplomas one by one by Principal Ishikawa, who made “accomplishment in the literary and military arts” his motto.
“Year 3, Class 1, Number 12, Tezuka Kunimitsu.”
Everyone’s breath caught at the sight of the ever-dignified figure ascending the stage.
The trust commanded by him, who had claimed victory at the national tournament as the tennis club captain while also filling the role of student council president, was strong, not just in his classmates, but also in the teachers.
And when he firmly received his diploma with both hands, he bowed his head deeply.
“Year 3, Class 2, Number 3, Oishi Shuuichirou.”
Tears were overflowing in his eyes as they steadily gazed straight ahead.
“Year 3, Class 4, Number 5, Kawamura Takashi.”
Taka-san ascended the stage with a nervous expression.
Of course, he walked by putting his hand and leg on the same side forward at the same time.
When he took his diploma, Taka-san’s movements changed.
“WHOOOOOA! GREAT GRADUATION!!”
Principal Ishikawa adjusted his glasses quickly.
“Eh~ Okay. On to the next person.”
Suddenly the hall was filled with laughter.
“Year 3, Class 6, Number 7, Kikumaru Eiji.”
Kikumaru took his diploma casually and came off the stage with a backflip.
Witnessing that magnificently acrobatic, beautiful form, everyone in the hall burst into applause.
Waving his hand in response to the cheers, Kikumaru’s face was wreathed in a smile.
“Year 3, Class 6, Number 14, Fuji Shuusuke.”
Fuji ascended the stage, wearing a gentle expression.
The eyes of the female students became rooted to that willowy, beautiful standing figure.
“Year 3, Class 11, Number 2, Inui Sadaharu.”
“Here. With this number of people, I will become the 8,364th graduate. Taking this number and those in the future, this school–”
“Ehhh~ Please be quiet.”
Principal Ishikawa cut off the dataman mercilessly.
Like that, the graduation ceremony finally approached its end.
“The graduate representative speech – Tezuka Kunimitsu.”
The dignified voice filled the hall.
All of the eyes in the hall were directed at Tezuka as he ascended the stage.
“We have been able to spend time at this school without any regrets. From here on out, our lives will contain many troubles. However, with what our teachers have taught us during these three years, with the time we have spent with our friends, with everything we have gained from the club activities we poured our sweat into, we will overcome them!”
“As expected of Tezuka-buchou~”
At Momoshiro’s words, Kaidou also nodded happily.
Then Tezuka continued speaking.
This talkativeness was rare for Tezuka, who was usually reticent.
“After today’s graduation ceremony is over, I am setting off for Germany. The decision I made to live as a professional tennis player is also thanks to my experiences at this school. I would like to diligently go forth so that I do not shame myself in the world. And so–”
Everyone who had been a tennis club regular, Oishi, Fuji, Kikumaru, Kawamura, and Inui, was deeply moved as they lent their ears to Tezuka’s speech.
Ryuuzaki-sensei, who was looking on, also closed her eyes softly.
“Oishi, Fuji, Inui, Kikumaru, Kawamura... Thank you very much. I’m grateful to you.”
At Tezuka’s surprising confession, the third-year former regulars were embarrassed and happy at the same time.
The hall was wrapped in a warm atmosphere, and one by one, the people began to applaud.
At last, with that thunderous applause, the graduation ceremony reached its finale.
“Buchou... Can’t be helped that you have some regrets.”
The noisy hall.
From the very back of it, a tennis ball let out a low, dull sound and headed for the stage.
Tezuka caught that ball securely in his left hand.
Naturally, he didn’t bat an eye.
In the entrance of the gymnasium, from which the ball had been released, stood a boy clutching a racket in his left hand and wearing a cap and shorts.
Momoshiro shouted out without thinking.
Echizen tipped the brim of his hat.
His eyes could be seen, full of confidence as always.
“Will you have another match with me?”
Ignoring Oishi, who was flustered, Tezuka answered strongly.
Now, two men were standing and facing off on the Seigaku tennis club courts.
Everyone understood the fierceness of the match that was about to begin.
However, for some reason, everyone in the huge crowd of spectators that completely filled the edges of the court had happy expressions.
As if they had been waiting eagerly for this battle.
And the cherry blossom petals danced in the wide blue sky.