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Characters

Name: Mr. Keitaro Takahashi & Mrs. Hinako Takahashi

Age: 38 & 32 ( at least that's what she's claiming but it's really 39)

During the story: Even though Noa's sixteenth birthday is four months away the Takahashi's are exited and while planing her birthday party they start talking about if there will be any boys invited, witch leads into what kind of boy they think Noa would like. Mr. Takahashi think's it'll be the wild rebel type but Mrs. Takahashi thinks it's the sweet prince charming. There's only one way to settle it; make a bet! The terms are simple; each parent find a boy that they think is Noa's type, have said boys flirt with Noa and witch ever boy Noa invites to her birthday party as her date is the winner. The loser gets to clean up the party mess. Through out the story Noa's parents make other bets, comfort her when she gets bullied, get mushy with each other, and are great for a laugh.

Background information: Mr. Takahashi was a good looking playboy who spent most of his time gambling on anything that could make him a quick buck. One night when at a casino he met a total nock out who he thought was a show girl. In actuality it was the future Mrs. Takahashi dressed as a show girl trying to sneak out of the casino before the cops caught her. Mrs. Takahashi was an expert con-artist, she spent her life coning people into giving her their hard earned money. When Takahashi started flirting with her she thought leaving with him would give her a chance to escape, so she flirted back. Instead of taking her to his place like she expected, Takahashi took for a night on the town and showed her places she never knew were there. After that great first date the two were head over heals in love. Mr. Takahashi gave up flirting with anything in a skirt and married her. Mrs. Takahashi stopped conning people and took up gambling, Mr. Takahashi will never play a card game with her because he thinks she cheats. Despite providing a nice home full of love the two left their daughter unhappy because they would go at gambling every night. When Noa was nine she made her parents see that they had a problem and begged them not to go out to the casino but stay at home with her. It was very hard for them the first few weeks not to go to the casino, race track, or call their booky about some game. But eventually they got over their problem... sort of... now they make stupid bets to see who's going to do the dishes or take out the trash. The couple are still very much in love with each other and care deeply for Noa, their pride and joy.

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Name: Rumi Tendo

Age: 15 - 16

During the story: Rumi is Noa's best friend (has been since first grade) and is a little crushed to be in room A along with Asaba, Yoko, and Kimoto while Noa's in Room D. When Noa befriends Rai, Rumi thinks it's great. Rumi tells Rai that she's like a star in a novel, the sweet girl being picked on just because she's a little different but gets the attention of the hotty that all the other girls are after. Later when Rumi is trying to help Noa with getting rid of Kimoto, without hurting his feelings, she decides to introduce Kimoto to Rai and see if sparks fly. Rumi in one way or another is caught trying to pair all of her friends up, some are utter failures while others surprise everyone by working.

Background information: Rumi was born in a small town to middle class parents who, though she loves them like crazy, she can't help but think they're way too boring. Rumi and Noa live on the same street and they've walked to and from school together every morning since they were twelve. Rumi is a good listener and likes trying to help Noa out of her problems. She usually sums up all of Noa's woes in an attempt to help Noa think clearly enough to find the solution, but it always ends up sounding like a really wonderful story that Noa wants to know the ending to. It helps Noa laugh at herself and is a nice stress reliever, while Rumi gushes over wishing she had such problems and cool parents. Rumi loves a good romance story and just about every other week meets a boy that she thinks is "the one," only to be crushed when the guy turns out to be taken or just doesn't like her back. Out going and friendly she always manages to bounce back in record time, but Noa worries that some day Rumi will really have her heart broken if she's not careful.

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Name: Rai Kang

Age:17

She's Korean

During the story: Rai is introduced to the class and asked to say a few things about herself. She's very shy and embarrassed but some how finds the words to say she loves Japan and has high hopes for this school year. The problem is she finds the words in Korean and all of the kids laugh at her and assume she doesn't speak much Japanese. Rai finds herself the butt of a lot of jokes but doesn't have the courage to stick up for herself. When Haruka really lets into her, Noa steps in and defends Rai. As a result Noa becomes Haruka's new favorite victim. Rai blames herself, for Noa's problems with Haruka, and wants to make it up to Noa but doesn't know how. She over hears some girls talking about Noa's parents bet, how it's bugging Noa, so she decides to somehow help Noa get out of it. In the mean time Noa takes Rai under her wing and when Rumi meets Rai the three are the bests of friends.

Background information: Her father is a well-to-do business man who use to leave his daughter and wife behind while he traveled around the world. But when Rei's ten and her mother dies that all changes. Mr. Kang decides he wants to keep Rai close so he brings her with him on all of his business trips. While they both are grieving over their lost the first year isn't so bad because they are spending so much time together. But than Rai starts falling behind in her school work Mr. Kang decides another change is in order. Instead of her doing homework while they travel, they settle down for a while and Rai attends the finest schools and gets the best education money can buy. Mr.Kang then starts to submerge himself in work to drown out the pain of the loss of his wife. Mean while, Rai is having trouble making friends. Even though she's very bright, she speaks four languages (Korean, English, Japanese, and French) Rai is shy and doesn't know how to make an ice breaker. In all of the other places she's been ( she's lived in five countries and visited nine others ) people recognized her fathers wealth and would use her; either because they wanted her to buy them stuff, to be made popular by being seen hanging out with her, or because they wanted to get their careers launched by her father. Hurt, Rai has become even more reserved and has decided she doesn't want anyone at her new school to know who her father is or anything about how much money she has.

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Name: Haruka Iwata

Age:16

During the story: Rather than admit to being lonely and vulnerable, Haruka is the school bully. When Noa sticks up for Rai she gains Haruka's respect. Haruka thinks Noa could be the answer to her problems, if she keeps picking on Noa maybe she'll loss her temper and really fight back leaving Haruka as yesterdays news. Since Noa already has friends and is well liked by their fellow classmates Haruka doesn't think she'll be creating another bully, so as Rumi's always saying "Everyone lived happily ever after." Haruka is a great athlete and loves most sports, particularly basketball, so she decides to try out for the all boys team.

Background information: Haruka has always been really tall for a girl, almost a head taller than all of her fellow classmates (girls and boys) so she got picked on a lot as a child. When Haruka was seven her parents divorced, she stayed with her mother who married Shuichi's father four years later. Shuichi got mad at his father for remarrying and would mistreat Haruka when at home. But deep down Haruka knows she can always count on Shuichi because when anyone else would try to hurt her at school he protected her. When Shuichi finally dropped out and left home she felt abandoned. All of the kids started picking on her again, until one day when she lost control and beat up a boy who wouldn't leave her alone. Because he was the school bully that even the teachers were afraid of over night Haruka become the most feared student. At first Haruka really liked it, no one was being mean to her. Everyone would stop whatever they were talking about and stare in awe when she entered the room. Plus they would give her their coolest stuff if they thought she was going to punch them! It was great, so she played it up for a while, but being a bully left her very lonely. But when Haruka would try to be nice people just thought she was tricking them and would take off running.

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Name: Yoko Yadate

Age:16

During the story: From out of the blue Yoko starts fallowing Kimoto around and talking to him every chance she gets. The school newspaper is buzzing in the gossip column about Kimoto and Yoko being the most popular couple, but all she wants to do is talk business! Yoko wants to launch her career as a model and thinks Kimoto is the answer. It's well known that he's the richest boy in school and has millions of little pet projects that he spends his alounce on. Yoko asks Noa, the class shutterbug, to take pictures of her and then give them to Kimoto. But Kimoto just isn't into financing a modeling agency! Later, Yoko is about to flunk Science so she gets help from Asaba, the number one geeck at school.

Background information: It's not easy being beautiful, that's why Yoko works hard at it. Yoko's mother is a movie star who never really got the big break she needed to shine. Mrs. Yadate gave up her career just when it was starting, to settle down and marry Mr. Yadate, and not a day goes by that she doesn't tell Yoko all she gave up to have her. Yoko has been in and out of dozens of acting , singing, and dancing schools and is full of talent. But she just wanted to be a kid and so wouldn't practice and was the laughing stock of all her special classes, much to her mothers dismay and Yoko's contentment when she could watch her cartoons. However all was not lost, Yoko was always naturally pretty and with the right makeup, dresses, and hair styles she's a nock out. In modeling Yoko has finely found something she enjoys, who doesn't like wearing the absolute finest? And best of all she doesn't have to practice all of the time, just get dress and smile for the camera.

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Name: Kimoto Asagi

Age: 16

During the story: Kimoto wants to be a normal kid, so when he meets Mrs. Takahashi she convinces him that the key to being an average boy is in dating an average girl. He's told that Noa, a girl from his school, has a crush on him but doesn't have the nerve to say so. Mrs. Takahashi wants him to charm Noa and just be a nice boy until she confesses her feelings by inviting him to her birthday party. Kimoto waits for Noa to get out of class and offers her a ride home, she asks to be dropped off at the park near her house. He thinks she's a really sweet girl, but doesn't act as though she has a crush on him, however he concedes with Mrs. Takahashi's point that he doesn't understand girls. Kimoto is a very sweet, trusting, lovable guy, but he's also smart and knows how to handle business. In his attempt to be "normal" he joins all of the sports, but the only one he's any good at is basketball. When Kimoto and Noa become friends he decides to throw her a huge birthday party at his mansion in Tokyo, anyone she wants is invited.

Background information: Kimoto Asagi comes from a long line of wealthy merchants, known as Keiretsu who specialized in Mitsubishi (banking and industry). When his parents died three years ago Kimoto inherited the whole business (actually he just got a huge chunk of money and all of his parents property while the business is ran by a board of directors until his eighteenth birthday). Kimoto continued his education in the finest schools and lived a very pampered life until a near death experience changed his out look. Now Kimoto just wants to live an average kids life for a while before he takes full responsibility for his father's company. To start out his new life as an average kid, Kimoto moves out of his mansion and starts renting an apartment, second he in roles at a public school, and thirdly instead of having his driver taking him everywhere he gets his licence and buys a sports car. Kimoto knows he's not living EXACTLY like an average kid does but he's trying his hardest. With Shirai's ( his best friend who went to school with Kimoto on scholarship) help the both of them go to school and attempt to blend in.

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Name: Shirai Akamatsu

Age: 16

During the story: Shirai and Noa are in the same class room together, so when Kimoto (his best friend) wants to know about her, Shirai does a little digging. Shiria finds out that Noa is cleaning the class room that day so she'll be leaving school late, but she usually walks home with Rumi. Shiria decides to get Rumi to leave early and walks her home, giving Kimoto a chance to talk with Noa. Shirai doesn't like Haruka's bulling, but it's just not his style to fight (especially with a girl), so he keeps cheering Noa on from the background. After Haruka goes over board leaving Noa crying he calms her down and doesn't leave till she's smiling. Shirai helps everyone, weather they ask for it or not, and tries to keep them smiling through all of their troubles.

Background information: Shirai has had a rather hard life, but he has been able to find something funny about any situation, and when he couldn't find the silver lining, he made it. Shiria loves his mother and two younger sisters, he's always making them laugh at him and themselves. Since his father left them he has worked at least one part time job to pay the bills and be able to buy presents once in a while. Mrs. Akamatsu couldn't provide the finer things for her son, but she wanted him to at least have a good education so she scraped and saved to send him to a good school. Shiria enjoys sports and is fairly good at baseball, so he used it to get a scholarship to make his mother happy. When at his new school he makes friends with everybody right away, if someone joked about him not being name brand he would laugh with them and poke fun at himself. Shirai studied hard and while not the best student he did well on all of his exams. Eventually Kimoto and him met and they quickly became best friends. Kimoto loved going to Shiria's home and being in a happy family environment. For acting like a total clown Shiria is very street smart and protective of his friends, particularly with too trusting of people like Kimoto. Even though he made friends easily, they were always fair weather friends, so Shirai enjoys knowing Kimoto will always be there for him. Even though he would never ask for a hand out, it is nice to have a guy he can just talk to about responsibility.

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Name: Shuichi Makino

Age:19

During the story: In the park Shuichi is skateboarding, doing all kinds of cool stunts, when Noa shows up. The park is her favorite place to take pictures, when she sees Shuichi she thinks he's amazing and starts snapping away. When Shuichi notices her, he asks if she wants a really great picture. Noa says yeah, so he takes her to the roof of an old rundown apartment building. The birds eye view of the city is wonderful, but what Shuichi wanted to show her was him skateboarding on the edge. Noa thinks he's a little crazy and screams at him to be careful. Shuichi is the boy that Mr. Takahashi think's Noa would like; he's wild, rebellious, and in most girl opinion a hotty. Shuichi and Mr. Takahashi met when Shuichi wrecked his motercycle, Mr. Takahashi was driving by and offered to give Shuichi a ride home. Mr. Takahashi isn't in a very good mood, he's spent most of the day trying to find the perfect guy for Noa without any succes. After rambling on and on Shuichi finally tells Takahashi to shut up or pull over. Takahashi is only silent for a little while before he realizes Shuichi is perfect. But Shuichi isn't intrasted in flirting with a sixteen year old girl who can't find a boyfriend on her own, that is untill Takahashi offers to pay for having his bike fixed. Ecepting the bribe, Shuichi is interwoven into Noa's chaotic life.

Background information: When he was fourteen his mother became ill and was in the hospital, during her stay his father met Kosuke Iwata (Haruka's mother, a nurse). The thought of his father starting to date his mother's nurse before she was dead for a month caused him even more agony. Shuichi loved his mother a great deal and couldn't understand how his father could love his mother but remarry when she had just died. Mr. Makino bought a new house and expected Shuichi to call Kosuke "mom." For a while he rebelled by picking fights with Haruka and not doing what Kosuke wanted. At school Shuichi saw Haruke being picked on, he felt bad for all of the mean things he'd said to her and decided to intervene. Shuichi already had a reputation of a bad temper and when kids learned that picking on Haruka made him mad, they backed off. But at home Shuichi continued to rebel against Kosuke and to cause unrest between him and Haruka, it was his father's punishment for betraying his wife. Shuichi got into extreme sports and riding motorcycles, he became more and more rebellious and would do anything his father didn't want him to. After two years Shuichi leaves to live on his own, he gets an apartment with Suoh.

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Name: Suoh Kusanagi

Age: 19

During the story: Noa drops her camera on the roof top, breaking it. At the store that she goes to bye another one, she meets Suoh, a young man who owns the store. Not sure what it is about him that draws her attention, Noa thinks Suoh looks lonely and she tries to find out more about him. But Suoh doesn't talk much, especially about himself, making him mysteriously appealing to Noa. Suoh and Shuichi rent a room in the old building that Shuichi took Noa to.

Background information: Kusanagi, Suoh was born in a small village on the coast of Japan. The Kusanagi family had been fishers for many generations. Kusanagi grew up in a small house with his father, older brother and sister, his uncle and aunt. Kusanagi's mother died giving birth to him, his brother blames him for her death. His brother would beat him up but his sister (the oldest child) would always put a stop to it. Kusanagi grew up withdrawn from everybody else, despite his sister's best efforts. At a young age his sister showed him some paintings that their mother had done. They were all of the ocean, light houses, fishermen bringing in the catch of the day, and the like. His favorite past time became looking at his mother's pictures and trying to imitate them. Kusanagi finally got to join his father, brother, and uncle on their fishing trips when he was nine. By age fifteen he's very good and views himself as an expert. One day he's out by himself and he gets caught in a sudden storm, his boat capsize and he almost drowns. After two days of floating in the water he's washed on to the beach. When he becomes conscious his sister tells him that their father and uncle went out on the ocean to find him, but they drowned. Kusanagi's brother blames him, and for the first time he starts to wonder if his mothers death really is his fault, along with his father and uncle. For a while he stays and tries to go on like everything is normal, but since the storm Kusanagi has developed a fear of water and can't continue fishing, so he leaves the village of his youth and travels around. Eventually, Kusanagi moves to the city and opens up a camera shop. Because he's short on money he puts an add in the paper looking for a room mate. Shuichi is the only one who replies to it, they've been room mates for a year.

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Name: Asaba Akina

Age: 16

During the story: He's in class room A with Rumi, Kimoto, and Yoko. He's the smartest kid in the whole school. While most people expect him to do great things and become a lawyer like his father, Asaba just loves playing with his game boy, Talking on line, and editing pictures. Somehow he gets the pictures of Yoko (and a few others of his fellow classmates) from Kimoto and he goofs off and makes a calendar with them. When he's tutoring Yoko in Science she comes across them.

Background information: Asaba comes from a very successful family of lawyers, his grandfather is the founder of the law firm his father works at. His mother comes from a more simple background and works for his father as his secretary and most trusted partner (both in his professional and privet life). Asaba only has one sibling, an older brother named Daisaku, who's seven years older. Daisaku was Asaba's idol and best friend, but as they got older Daisaku was put under a lot of pressure to preform to be the perfect son, the perfect student, the perfect everything except what mattered most to Asaba, his good humored brother and friend. Daisaku is about to graduate and his parents and grandfather has his whole future mapped out, he's to join the family law firm and eventually inherit it. But all of the pressure is too much for Daisaku, he has a nervous brake down and is sent to the mental institution. Considered a disgrace and shame, his name is forbidden to be spoken in front of Asaba's grandfather. Asaba is the only one in his family who doesn't abandon Daisaku, he visits every weekend. Asaba is a natural born genius, but until Daisaku's breakdown he was always left in the shadows. Now everybody is focused on him, but Asaba refuses to preform. While he enjoys most school subjects and always gets straight As, Asaba spends a lot of time playing with his game boy and would rather be forgotten and left alone instead of being called the school geek and expected to do something great and wonderful with his life. Secretly Asaba would like to create games like what he plays, only better, but he's rather laid back and doesn't worry much about his future. What will be, will be.

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Name: Noa Takahashi

Age: 15 - 16

During the story: In one day Noa meets first Kimoto, a boy in Rumi's class who offers her a ride home in his sports car. Then Shuichi, an older boy who awed her in the park. But he lives a long distance from her favorite spot and scared her with his anticks, isn't he afraid of death? Noa thinks something is up but she can't put her finger on it. Then when putting a new roll of film in her camera she drops the camera breaking it. On her way home she sees a camera place and decides to buy a cheep camera until she's saved up a enough money for something more expensive. In the store is a young man who just strikes her as being so sad. She wants to reach out and comfort him, but he's mysterious and she can't find out what's wrong. Noa is very caring and keeps trying to help everybody else, causing her to be drawn into their problems and them into hers.

Background information: While her parents are some what crazy, Noa has grown up in a happy home full of love. She adores her parents and knows that they feel the same about her. Noa is out going and nice to everybody, so long as they're not being a jerk to her friends or someone she just feels the need to protect. Noa's passion is taking pictures, life is so full of great moments and she thinks it's sad that if no one is there to record it either with a picture, drawing, or writing about it, it's just gone. But she's happy when she can bring those moments back to life or help someone relive it by capturing it on film.

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AN: The pictures of Yoko, Haruka, and Rumi were all drawn by Y4 at my request. Thank you very much Y4!

Summery

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