|Extra Class: Human Ranking|
|Period||Extra Class 12|
Human Ranking is an extra lesson featured in volume 8 of the Zekkyou Gakkyuu manga.
Ren accepts that everyone is ranked regardless of who they are or how old they are. This won't ever change, so she says nothing. She can't return to how things used to be...
A group of girls are bullying their classmate for being "too slow", refusing to let her leave the room they forced her into until the next day. One of the girls keeps distant as the girl asks them why they would leave her in an abandoned room like this, one with rumors of a ghost who haunts it and takes away anyone it catches still lingering there late in the day. The girls mock the anxious girl, leading her to see Ren and call her for help. Ren remains silent as the leader of the bullies recalls that they are ex-friends and attempts to provoke a reaction.
Ren doesn't care enough to do anything though, they were only friends in elementary school. It's not that she approves of this but if she stood up to them, she would be their next target.
It's then a pretty girl with black hair suggests that Ookawa stay there until they decide she can leave. The group is surprised initially, because they didn't know she was there. But they support the idea and prepare to leave, Ookawa desperately begging them to reconsider. She keeps calling out to Ren, but this causes Ren to tell her off for being annoying. She coldly glares at her as they leave, and Ookawa begins to cry in despair.
In the hallway several students clamor around the ultra-popular group and shower them with praise. Ren is a part of this group, which is on the very top of the popularity pyramid. It's reserved only for those who are cute and/or cool, followed by those good at sports and academics, or are funny. At the bottom are the losers who don't stand out. Everyone knows where they rank, and those who are similar flock to others like them. Ren joined Rio, Kaon, and Yumi back when she entered her second year of middle school.
Every day was so much fun back then.
At the moment some upperclassmen invite the foursome to join them later when they hang out. As she smiles, Ren thinks about Saku Ookawa again, who is one of those at the very bottom of the pyramid. She never stands out, she is always alone and her grades aren't too great, nor is she particularly talented. She also doesn't look good and she isn't cute, nothing about her is special. Saku was always like that though. Ren begins to recall the time when she accidentally ruined a picture Saku drew for her birthday. She cried and expected her to be angry, but she was very surprised when Saku expressed eagerness to draw something better next time. Since she wants to become an artist in the future she appreciates this extra practice.
She was so gentle and big-hearted.
But right now, that's not enough.
That evening Ren is at home getting a drink when her mom asks her if she saw Saku recently. She didn't come home yet and her mom is very worried. Ren denies knowing anything, and her mom continues to ask her questions as she heads back to her room. She's unaware that Ren has turned on Saku. Back in her room, Ren spots some pictures she and Ren took together, then she happens to see Yumi looking through them and Ren momentarily snaps out of her daze. It slipped her mind that they were hanging out. She goes on to invite Yumi to stay for dinner after she compliments how cute they look in the album but she turns down the offer, deciding to leave since it's late. But before she goes she mentions being excited for tomorrow. Ren assumes she's referring to Saku.
She begins to think about how mature Yumi is, which causes her to acknowledged that despite them being friends, she actually doesn't know much about her. She's never been to her house before, and they don't usually hang out like this. Ren returns to her bed to see the album, and as she looks through it she begins to feel a heavy sadness.
She's come to the point of no return.
A heavy rain falls over school as the girls arrive. Rio and Kaon bring up Saku and wonder if they should go let her out yet, but they reason it's much too soon. As they head into class they express confusion over Yumi not having arrived yet, but they become distracted after they find that someone has wrote slander on their notebooks. Ren is alarmed when a male classmate calls her ugly all of the sudden, just to shove her aside when Yumi arrives in a delightful mood. Everyone flocks to her and showers her with adoration, leading the girls to become suspicious. They approach her during break to demand an explanation, as she was the only one of the group who wasn't belittled and everyone still likes her. Before she can say anything, the boy from the day before invites her to hang out with him and he seems to ignore them. When one of the girls try to speak to him, he gives them the brush off. He's above her so she shouldn't casually speak to him, he goes on to ask what their relationship with Yumi is.
As the trio remain stunned by everyone's sudden hostilities, acting as if they don't exist, it dons on Ren that somehow Yumi has managed to suck away every last bit of their popularity. Yumi happily states to the boy that the girls aren't friends with her, enraging Rio to the point of assault. But the boy grabs her before she can hit Yumi, and they take Ren and Kaon captive with her, forcing them to lean over and demand apologies for Yumi.
Yumi sits down and casually explains that as of now, those three are the lowest of the low. Without popularity nobody will notice them. Ren is very concerned and unable to understand what could be going on now as she recalls what happened last night, and she asks Yumi why she has turned on them so suddenly. Yumi states that she's done this to past friends too, which causes Ren to realize that she is speaking about her and how she turned her back on Saku. It began when she witnessed a group of boys harassing her after she accidentally bumped into one of them. Then she began to bully her with the other girls and wrote mean things on her notebook.
Saku always held everything in and never said a word. She mourned but she always looked on, choosing to ignore her turmoil and pain they were causing, for no real reason. She didn't know how Saku was feeling until now.
It's then Yumi tells the boys to take Rio and Kaon outside for punishment. The girls yell out in defiance and struggle, trying to get loose as Ren is left alone with Yumi, wondering why she chose to spare her. Before she can say anything else, Yumi has a boy escort Ren to the room where Saku was locked, the only fitting punishment for her. She mockingly tells Ren to get along with Saku and leaves.
In a panic, Ren pounds on the door and begs to be let out. She happens to see Saku from the corner of her eye and sadly begins to speak, assuming that she hates her now. But she doesn't blame her for it, given what she's been put through. Noticing her silence, Ren turns to face Saku when she happens to see a cord has been tied around one of the ceiling lights. She then looks down to see Saku's feet don't reach the floor, and then she gets a better look at her.
Saku hung herself.
Ren slowly sinks to the floor as she stares in horror at the corpse of her old friend. She begins to think about back when they entered middle school, when they discovered they didn't have the same class. She was upset but Saku assured her that they could still walk together before and after school, and they would see each other a lot. There was also the time she was forced to stay behind for club activities, and she apologized to Saku for not walking home with her. Saku understood and took off, with Rio and Kaon being members of the same club Ren was. They observed Saku and chatted about how she kept to herself and drew a lot, and they confronted Ren by saying that because she was so cute, she shouldn't hang out with Saku. Sooner or later she would be grouped with someone like her, and she wouldn't like it.
It was then the distance between them started to grow. Ren became interested in things like fashion but Saku only liked art, so she would go shopping with Kaon and Rio. They asked her why she never invited Saku, but Ren said she didn't have an interest in it, leading them to start poking fun at her. Eventually this turned into cruel mockery as they got older. Ren was happy because these girls shared the same interests, but because of the time spent with them, she began ignoring Saku. She even said they weren't friends and saw nothing wrong with it.
She wasn't interested in Saku's artwork anymore.
Suddenly, Ren happens to see scattered papers on the floor and she picks them up, coming across a drawing of her and Saku together. She recalls the time Saku told her about her art aspirations when they were younger, and she begins to cry. Saku continued to think about her, even like this.
All she wanted to do was to grow up with Saku.
Why did it have to come to this before she noticed?
It's then Ren hears Yumi's voice and she looks up to find nobody else is there. She calls out to Yumi, only to recall the ghost rumor of the room, and she begins to realize that Yumi isn't a normal person. But they were friends for a long time, there's no way she could be that ghost. Yumi appears behind Ren to inform her that Saku chose the path decided for her. She was loved by no one, they only made her feel unneeded. But now she's come to collect her, so she tells Ren to say goodbye. Quickly, Ren picks up a chair and a cord and stands up on it to tie the cord to the light. She asks Yumi not to take away her friend, but she can have her in her place. She cries and embraces Saku's corpse, apologizing for everything she did to her. She doesn't have to forgive her. She just wishes for things to return to the way they were, back when they spent every day together.
Yumi expresses disappointment as she witnesses this. She would have really liked to have a playmate.
- - - -
Suddenly, Ren snaps out of a daze to see she's with Rio and Kaon. Rio asks if she is okay because she was spacing out, and it takes a moment for Ren to collect her bearings. Realizing she's been taken back to yesterday, when they locked Saku in the abandoned classroom, and she looks to see her alive and frightened. She asks Rio about Yumi, which causes Rio some confusion. They don't know anyone named Yumi. Ren is very confused until she realizes that Yumi was indeed the ghost of the room; she was never real to begin with. From the very beginning it's only been the three of them, it was only after they entered this room that strange things started to happen. It also explains why the girls hadn't noticed Yumi was with them initially.
Ren rushes into the room to stand by Saku's side, and she grasps her hands to tell her that they will be leaving now. Rio and Kaon are surprised by this gesture and they ask Ren why she would speak to such a low ranking student, then Rio warns her that if she's not popular nobody will pay her any attention. Ren simply smiles as she remains holding hands with Saku, and they break out into a run until they are far enough from them. Saku thanks Ren for saving her, which confuses her until Saku takes out a picture she was working on recently. It's the very one she saw when she found Saku's corpse, and Saku explains how she finished it recently. She wanted to give it to Ren.
For a moment Ren is silent, but overtaken with emotion she begins to cry and holds onto her friend.
She's the coolest person she knows, regardless of what anyone else might say.
She calms down and the girls begin to overlook the classroom they were just at moments ago. Saku then goes on to recall more of the rumor, it's said that the ghost only takes away lonely people. As long as they stay together then they will be fine. Ren continues to hold her hand as she wonders if Yumi was testing her, and they take off as Yumi appears to happily observe them.
Bullying will always exist, but everyone can change. For the sake of a loved one.
- This chapter is similar to three different two part chapters, The Day I Became A Demon, The Truth About Yomi, and Yomi-sama's Facts.
- They featured girls who were bullied by previous friends.
- It took a dire situation for each girl to better themselves and tell off the bullies.
- Each involved Yomi/Yumi.
- Each one came to the same conclusion, that bullying will always exist. But one can change or overcome it for the sake of a loved one and realize that life isn't as bleak as they were made to believe.