Chapter 1: Becoming an Adult Means…
Although he was tired out from pushing back Parrotmon, Taichi had no appetite.
He was at the university cafeteria, scowling at a single piece of paper with a bitter expression on his face.
“Why are you staring at that so quietly? You know your food’s right there, right?”
Eating his lunch on the opposite side of the table from Taichi was a young man with glasses, Morikawa, who sighed at him.
“You still haven’t decided on the topic for your graduation thesis, have you?” asked Nemoto, a young lady with a bobbed haircut who was sitting next to Morikawa.
Taichi, who’d had so much energy when dealing with the Digimon incident that morning, was now stuck with his head full of nothing but his graduation thesis.
If he didn’t submit his graduation thesis, he’d be stuck in the eternal hell of never being able to graduate.
“It’s not that I haven’t decided yet, I just can’t decide.”
“What’s the difference?” the two friends declared clearly to Taichi, exasperated.
“Dude, do you not want to graduate?” Morikawa asked Taichi, pointing at him. Taichi, holding his chopsticks in his right hand, pointed right back at Morikawa with them.
“I do! I know that much, at least!”
“Then are you applying for any jobs?”
“I’ll get to that eventually!” Taichi pointed his chopsticks at Nemoto this time.
“Don’t point at people with chopsticks.”
Next to the worried-looking Nemoto, Morikawa smirked at Taichi and held up three fingers.
“I’ve got three job offers now. What about you?”
While Morikawa clearly looked pleased with himself, Taichi, who hadn’t applied to a single company, could say nothing.
“You haven’t even started job hunting to begin with, have you? Are you seriously gonna be okay?”
Taichi was in his final year of university, but he was completely unprepared to graduate, and still hadn’t decided on where he’d work once he did.
“I’ll be fine! It’s just not the right time, that’s all!” Taichi said in a loud voice, trying to shake it off.
Meanwhile, at a different university, Yamato was talking to his friend before class.
“And I’m asking, who’s been saying that?” asked Yamato, looking up at his friend Abe, who had started climbing the stairs before him.
“Everyone’s saying it, everyone! Like, ‘Ishida’s gonna be enlisted as an executive officer for the Self-Defense Forces!'”
Yamato made an annoyed “huh?” at the unbelievable claim.
“Like something as stupid as that would happen.”
“Huh? Really? Well, you guys are attracting all sorts of attention, so of course those kinds of rumors are gonna spread about you. Like, ‘truly the chosen ones after all!'”
A chosen one. Yamato knit his eyebrows upon hearing himself being called that, while Abe showed him his smartphone. On the screen was an article about their fight with the Digimon that morning.
“You guys were the ones who sorted out the incident in Nakano this morning, right?”
Yamato remained evasive, while Abe immediately changed the subject.
“Well, at least an ordinary person like me gets to start working for a company starting April.”
“Did you get a job?”
“My first choice!”
He puffed out his chest proudly, and Yamato, drained of energy, smiled at him.
“Really? That’s great.”
Abe gave him a wide smile, grinning ear to ear, and gave him a thumbs-up.
Feeling a little left behind, Yamato looked away from his friend.
After Taichi had finished his classes at school, he did his hours at his part-time job, and returned to his apartment, where he lived by himself.
Almost all of his time was spent on classes at school, and after that his part-time job. He bought his food at the convenience store, and then returned to his apartment, and that was all. Taichi went through this cycle every day.
Once Taichi arrived at his apartment, he set out a pork cutlet bowl he’d bought at the convenience store and a can of beer he’d kept in the refrigerator on the table.
As if he’d had a sudden flash of memory, Taichi opened the drawer under the TV.
In it was the pair of goggles that he’d always worn in grade school, and his proof of being a “Chosen Child”, his Digivice.
He still remembered his adventure in the Digital World like it was yesterday. Along with his friends and his partner, they’d fought frantically to save the world.
So many things had changed since then.
His school, his friends, the things around him, none of them were anything like what they were like when he was a kid. Now that he was an adult, he could do so many more things.
But actually, back when he was a kid, he was better at…
Unable to escape the gloomy feelings, Taichi picked up his smartphone and made a phone call.
Taichi had called Yamato.
They’d met up at a horumon bar.1 Once Taichi had given him a summary of what had happened, Yamato took a huge swig of beer and said, “Right, so…in other words, your seminar classmates criticized you, and now you’re worried.”
“I’m not worried, per se.”
Taichi took a drink of his beer and looked away from Yamato.
“…It’s just, I don’t want to do something unless I really want to do it.”
Hearing Taichi say this, Yamato started teasing him sarcastically. “So if you can be so forward-thinking about it, why’d you call me over like this?”
Yamato had hit him right where it hurt. Taichi had a bitter expression on his face.
“Yamato, you’re planning on going into grad school, right? Why not get a job instead?” asked Taichi, to the calm-looking Yamato.
Unlike Taichi, Yamato had already decided what he would do after graduating from university.
But Yamato couldn’t meet Taichi’s gaze, and started mumbling.
“Even I’m not sure if going to grad school is really the right decision. I’m doing it to figure out what I really want to do…but actually, in the end, what I really just want is a grace period.”
Yamato drained his glass of beer, and took a deep breath.
“Well, we’re surrounded by people who have clear goals for their lives, so it probably hits us even harder.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Jou’s fully on his way to becoming a doctor, and Mimi’s started an online shopping site where she sells general products…”
Quietly, Taichi started going through thoughts of his friends.
Jou Kido and Tachikawa Mimi were also “Chosen Children” who had gone on an adventure with him in the Digital World.
The two of them were putting all of their energy into following their own paths, to the point where they rarely got to participate in Digimon fights like the one from that morning.
“Koushirou’s a CEO now, you know? And even the kids like Hikari and Daisuke seem to have a pretty clear idea of what they want to do…Oh yeah, what about Takeru?”
Taichi was talking about Yamato’s younger brother, Takeru.
“Seems like he’s writing a novel right now. He still won’t let me read it, though.”
“A novel, huh…”
A long time ago, Takeru had been clingy with Yamato, but now here he was, having decided on his own path.
Yamato continued the conversation while he grilled the meat.
“Sora’s been really fixated on studying flower arrangement lately.”
They were talking about Taichi’s childhood friend, Sora Takenouchi. Sora was currently deep in study so that she could follow the footsteps of her mother, a teacher at a Japanese flower arrangement school.
When they were in grade school, Taichi and Sora were in the same soccer club. Sora had always been supportive of her friends, but now it seemed that she’d drifted far away from them.
“At some point, things aren’t going to be like they used to be. You have to pick what you want to do going forward, and you might start drifting away from your friends.”
Hearing Yamato say this, Taichi slumped his shoulders. He sighed. “Agumon and the other Digimon are the only ones who don’t change.”
“We can open the gate anytime, and all sorts of things have happened, and yet they really don’t change at all.”
Looking at Yamato, who was playing with his phone, Taichi joked, “why don’t you take Gabumon with you to school?”
Yamato started cracking up. “Don’t be silly. Why don’t you take Agumon to school?”
“Easier said than done. I’ve got my own life to live, you know.”
Taichi said those words nonchalantly, causing both of them to look down.
From elsewhere in the store, a woman’s voice could be heard.
“If that’s how it is, then I don’t want to be an adult.”
They had no idea who the woman was, and yet her words lingered in their ears.
What did it mean to become an adult?
Taichi and his friends could drink alcohol now. They could take on part-time jobs, and ride motorcycles. But there was some kind of feeling that there were still some things that you could only do as a child.
Back then, you could push forward and take things head-on, but now there were times it felt better to hide your true feelings.
Back then you could follow a clear path that you believed in, and keep going without getting lost, but now such a path seemed nothing but blurry and vague.
Before they knew it, it was completely gone, like the days they’d spent on their adventure in the Digital World.
Was this what it meant to become an adult?
Taichi raised his head to look at Yamato.
“Hey, Yamato, are we…”
A huge noise interrupted Taichi and Yamato’s conversation.
The woman who had been sitting right behind Taichi had fallen on the ground.
“Ayaka? Hold on, get yourself together…”
Another woman, who had been with her, called out her name, but the woman on the floor did not even twitch.
“Are you okay?”
Taichi called out to the woman, and her friend looked up at him, her eyes full of tears.
“I don’t know!”
“Yamato, call an ambulance!”
Taichi got on his knees next to the fallen woman to check on her.
“Did she drink?”
“No!” said the woman’s friend, answering Taichi’s question through her tears.
The restaurant was completely silent, except for the woman’s cries of pain ringing through the air.