7: Marii's Talents

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Qualia the Purple

Arc 1: Various Notes on Marii

Chapter 7: Marii's Talents

I'm really really sorry that I have to keep bringing this up over and over again, but Marii Yukari saw other humans as robots.

That might've had something to do with why Yukari loved robots in general, and in her free time she built plastic models.

As long as it was a robot, Yukari wasn't picky... or rather, whether it was a model of a tank or a castle, it seemed Yukari was okay with it as long as it was a plastic model. Actually, it didn't even have to be a model literally made of plastic, apparently.

Yukari lived in a quaint single house with a garden, and in that garden was a small workshop and a storeroom. There were a lot of unfamiliar tools and equipment in the workshop, while the storeroom was filled to the brim with plastic models of robots. The ones that couldn't fit into the storeroom were used to decorate the roof, like gargoyles, or to decorate the lawn like lawn gnomes.

To be precise, though, Yukari enjoyed the process of making these robot models more than she enjoyed seeing the finished product - of course, she did still like robots very much.

Yukari had a little brother and a little sister (their names were Aoi and Akane, and they adored their older sister). Through them, Yukari got plastic models that the elementary schoolers had neither the time, patience, nor skill to build, so she took it upon herself to build them herself. That was Yukari's favorite way to pass her free time, and it made "Marii Yukari" quite a famous name in the elementary schools, especially for the boys.

And honestly, even girls who weren't interested in plastic models had no choice but to stare in amazement when they saw her building these things.

I was surprised as well when I first saw it with my own eyes.

It was early in our summer break, and I went over to Yukari's place in the morning when I saw over fifty boxes of plastic models piled up in front of her family's workshop. Wow, kids these days sure are lazy, I thought. Surely Yukari wouldn't actually take it on herself to build all these things, I thought. But, faced with this menacing tower (yes, the plastic model boxes were pretty bulky) of boxes, Yukari didn't look fazed at all. Rather, she was walking towards the boxes with the vigor of a hunter who was licking her lips at the sight of her prey.

"Anything I can help with?"

Hearing my offer, Yukari laughed and nodded.

"Wah. Really? Okay~~. There's a pair of wire clippers over there, so could you help cut off the parts from the runners?"

Runners were the plastic frames that held all the parts together, and you were supposed to build plastic models by cutting all the parts away from the runners first and then putting them together as instructed on the manual.

But Yukari didn't seem at all interested in instruction manuals, and just happily took the runners out from the boxes before beginning to clip off the parts.

Box by box... wait, she was taking out all the runners from all the boxes, putting them all in a pile, and then cutting them all at once.

She didn't seem to mind at all that pieces from different boxes were getting mixed with each other, but just picked up any runner she could get her hands onto, cut everything off with her wire clippers, and then just let all the parts scatter out onto the big plastic tarp she was working on without sorting them in any way whatsoever.

"Ah, Gaku-chan, there are pretty small pieces on those runners too, so make sure you get them all, okay~~?"

"Um, yeah, okay... more importantly, is it fine to make such a mess? How exactly are you going to figure out which piece is which...?"

"No problem, no problem. When it comes to PlaMo, just leave it to me!"

As if to prove her point, Yukari finished snipping off all the parts from all the runners and then began to put together the models without even glancing at the boxes or the instruction manuals.

She took one piece out from the jumbled-up mountain of parts and then cocked her head to the side.

She put that part to the side, and then picked up another part, and once again put it to her side... or so I thought, but in fact she actually had attached that part to the part she already had set aside. In a sense, it looked more like she was putting together a jigsaw puzzle than working with a PlaMo. She would randomly choose some part, put it together with another, and then in that random fashion put together the model. Honestly, it all seriously looked like it was happening by complete luck, but her hands moved swiftly and didn't stop. She only seemed to struggle a bit in the beginning, but before I realized it her hands were flowing like a stream and building up this robot. I had thought that the mountain of parts had no rhyme nor reason, but it looked like she knew exactly where each part was and where that part was supposed to go.

It wasn't even ten minutes before she had the first model finished, and it wasn't even seven minutes more before the second model was standing finished next to the first.

However, regardless of her speed, Yukari's work did not seem crude nor rough; she sometimes employed the help of a file, or some glue, or what looked to be clay, and swiftly but carefully assembled her robots.

I just looked on in mute amazement before asking a question.

"Looks like there's a lot of different robots here... do you know all of them? You've built them all before?"

"Hmm..." Yukari glanced at a nearby box and answered, all the while not stopping her work. "Well, I've made a few of them before I guess, but this is my first time with most of them. A lot of these models just came out."

"You haven't made them before, but you know how to? Like, you don't have to look at the instructions but you know which part goes where already?"

"I guess. I mean, if you look at the box you can see what the finished model looks, and... Well, okay. You might look at a robot and just think 'oh, that's pretty cool,' but each and every robot is designed in some way for a reason, you know? They don't just randomly look the way they do. So... this robot might be designed like this because he can fly... or this robot might have joints like this because he's built for speed... or maybe this robot has armor that's supposed to look like a lion... stuff like that. If you know the theme, then naturally you can figure out what each part is for and how to put them together."

"..... Well... okay... but that's still amazing..."

She said that like it was a piece of cake, but I really doubt anybody could just do it like she did. I really felt like I was watching a master at work.

I couldn't help but breathe a sigh of admiration. Yukari blushed a bit and gave me a little smile, but shook her head even as she gave birth to another robot.

"Well, I've made plenty of mistakes before, you know? Sometimes I can check with someone who actually knows, but then there's other times when I think something should look like a bird but it's actually supposed to look like an angel, or sometimes there really isn't any rhyme or reason to the design. So I guess it just comes down to experience."

... Well, if it was about experience, then there would be nobody who could top someone like Yukari, who saw every other living thing as a robot.

In a sense, this was a talent Yukari could be proud of that was given form by her special vision.

For some reason, I felt myself getting really excited for her, and I ended up briskly patting her on the head.

"But this is really amazing, Yukari! Seriously amazing! You could make a living off this, I think!"

"Wah. Maybe... I was thinking that maybe I'd like to be a modeler someday."

"... Model...er? What's that? You want to be a model?"

"Modelers are the people who design the prototypes for these plastic models."

"Good idea! Model or modeler... it doesn't matter! Yukari will make a great one! I mean, look at how good you are at making these things!"

I'm sure her purple-colored eyes would help her fulfill those dreams of hers.

The thought of that made me really happy for some reason, and I found myself unable to control my emotions as I began stroking Yukari excitedly on her head. But Yukari stopped me and looked at the plastic model boxes around her with a sad-looking look in her eyes.

After staring at those boxes for a little bit, she began to talk.

"But if I want to do that, I guess I have to get used to mecha anime too."

"... Well, yeah, probably. Actually, wait... Yukari, you like robots that much, but you don't watch mecha anime?"

"........ Mecha anime are just so cruel."

"Hmm, really? But aren't they made for kids?"

"But they're still cruel... so I can't ever watch them but I just end up buying all the plastic models. And then I build these robots imagining what kinds of great deeds they're doing, and then I just check later with people who've seen the anime to see whether I was right or not."

"...... Hmm, I see."

Yukari was looking at a model box featuring a heroic-looking robot with wings coming out his back.

He was holding onto a glowing stick (maybe a sword?) in one hand and was striking a gallant pose.

Many destroyed robots lay around him.

He was probably the main robot, and all the others lying broken around him used to be his enemies. He was standing in the midst of a great wreckage of what at one time had been working robots.

This was nothing more than a drawing, an object, and no blood had actually been spilt. But even then...

At last, Yukari began to assemble her robot again.

She took up part after part, putting them together swiftly but carefully, sometimes using a cloth to polish her creation. Her hands worked gently, affirming how much she loved robots, and how much she loved building them.

I couldn't help but mutter something.

"Maybe you can build one for me sometime too?"

Yukari quickly took the bait.

"Really? Let's go buy one together next time then! Mm, I think there's one that came out that would really fit Gaku-chan! Well, I'm actually not sure what kind of robot it is exactly... but it's really cool..."

But in the end, I thought to myself that for Yukari, it probably didn't matter what kind of robot it was.

For her, all robots were meant to be loved.

So as long as someone like that was the one building my robot, I would be satisfied no matter what.

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