Jidou Hanbaiki ni Umarekawatta ore wa Meikyuu o Samayou
Author: Hiru Kuma
There were four wall-mounted candle holders installed in this room.
In the middle of the gloomy room there was a enormous round table; surrounding that were 13 shadowy people lined up.
Silence reigned with no one opening their mouths in this place, when a single woman suddenly stood up.
“Everyone, thank you for gathering together. Our regular meeting will begin. The topic this time is of course – – THATyo.”
At whatever suspicious thing the word THAT means, all present began to make a fuss.
“It can’t be; that THAT’s reach has extended this far.”
“Aa, we were careless.”
“If we don’t work out a counterplan, we’ll be wiped out in an instant.”
Dangerous words leaked out of their mouths one by one, and anguished groans were heard as well.
Whomever the thin light shone on, their faces were dark and lifeless feeling.
“Quiet down. Right now we’ll sum up all the information we know at present … if you would yo.”
The woman prompted her seated neighbor, a woman with an apron-skirt, maid-like get up, who now stood, opening the documents in her hand.
“Well then, THAT has captured 70% of this Dungeon’s level and has them under their control, supplying them. And this time, his reach has even come this far. We, as of now, must unite, or we will never be able to remove THAT. And so, this time, as a trump card, we have called this gentleman in. Well then, would you give a statement?”
I, who was forced to participate in the assembly of all the owners of businesses in Seiryu1 Lake Level’s community’s food and drink industry, can’t say anything other than this, you know.
This assembly commences three times a year on pre-determined dates; they also talk about serious matters, but in general, they swap rumors and afterwards finish it with idle chit-chat.
However, this time it’s a special, hurriedly formed assembly, and all the members’ faces are tense without a smidgeon of room for error. Just by looking you can tell it’s a desperate situation; it’s honestly really uncomfortable.
“If there’s anything you’d like to add, Hakkon-san, you’re welcome to speak up at any time.”
Munami adding “-san” is really creepy. This person; so she’s the type to get really into her role, huh? She’s giving off the image of some high-ranking guy’s secretary.
“Let us continue the discussion. Currently, this community has a large amount of all sorts of people flooding in. Our population has swelled by about one hundred people, and right now they say that we’re close to five hundred residents.”
“Recently it’s become lively, naa.”
“Originally this should be something we’re happy about, but”
Because the community is experiencing a shortage of manpower due to the reconstruction work, if they don’t at least prepare the gate before the full brunt of winter hits, the people around will have a hard time getting in and out. At least we got the wall of spikes set up to defend us against enemies, what a relief; that’s the degree things are at.
“The people increased, so the food and drink business is delighted … is how it should be, but forget about that, THAT’s is going to make its move. With its goal to dominate all of the Dungeon’s food, the absolute strongest and the worst eatery – – the Chain Restaurant2-!”
“Dammit, even though I thought I could finally make a profit because they’re not here-!”
“As for me, even though I went to a different level, THAT’s going to steal away all the food demand!”
While gazing at the food and drink merchants making a fuss like they’re the protagonists of some tragedy, I piece together their discussion in my head.
So basically, in this dungeon, each level has its own community where people gather, and in each community there’s a major food and drink shop that sets up a branch. In other words, it’s a chain store.
Up until now, because the population hadn’t even reached one hundred, they thought the profits would be weak, and so they hadn’t touched this community. However, with seeing the recent population inflation, they decided that the time to rake in the profits was now.
It looks like the name of this big chain store is Chain Restaurant. For them to set up branch stores is an unthinkable ambition for other food and drink businesses; their food and drink is good of course, but with preserved foods and easily carried foods assembled as well, “Everything is served at Chain Restaurant” is their catchphrase.
Chain Restaurant gets resupplied directly from contracted farmers, so without the middle man, the possibility of making quality food for less is possible. The managers handle the transfers and connections with traders, they can get food transported for the lowest price possible; the price for the quality is at a situation where the ordinary eateries can’t cross swords with them.
And so, Chain Restaurant establishing a branch shop in a community means that other eateries can only wait to be crushed.
This is a lot like a story from modern day Japan, na. A big store is erected, and all the shopping districts and small retailers all in a row are shut down; how many precedents have there been?
“THAT was aiming for this time of season, I bet. To prepare for winter, we are all agonizing over the high price that our food dealings should be set at; this is the time they’re waiting for. On THAT’s side, they possess magic tools capable of storing large amounts of fresh food, so even though it’s winter, they’re able to continue offering the same food without changing.”
In other words, the big store has something like a refrigerator, I guess.
Here, about 80% of the eateries are food stalls, so there’s no way they’d have something like that. ‘We need to restock our supplies, so today we’re closed’; that’s expected around here.
“And to prepare for the transfer, THAT’s hand had most likely stretched far; they’ve begun blatantly raising the prices and stopping the supplies from coming. We are seriously being driven into a corner.”
“Dammiiiit, does that mean we can only be destroyed-?!”
“I’ve got cute kids at home, you know. How am I supposed to get through the winter?”
Banging their fists on the table, the actions of the frustrated shopkeepers are – – like they’re putting on a play. Glance, glance, they keep sneaking looks in my direction, naa.
I’m able to grasp the reason as to why they went so far to call me here to watch this farce. They’re hoping I’ll have countermeasures to help them fight back.
Frankly, for a vending machine, even if a big store shows up, it won’t have much effect. I have the possibility of doing business 24 hours a day, and I can put out many products that Chain Restaurant can’t copy. I’m pretty sure the method for freeze-dried noodles for cup ramen aren’t possible for the otherworld inhabitants to do.
But you know, I like the residents here, and for Ramis’ sake too, it wouldn’t be any loss to be kind. This is also just in case there’s ever a time I break down and become unusable, to secure a safe place for her.
Also, in my student days, there was a shop I liked that was run by an old couple, but the fact that a big store came and crushed them is a bitter memory; carrying out my revenge in another world doesn’t sound too bad.
“And so, Hakkon-san, would you cooperate with us!? …If you lend a hand, then, once the inn is restored, Rammis’ lodgings will be half off.”
If I had a flesh and blood body, I would have reacted to that second half that Munami muttered. U-n, even if there wasn’t that negotiation I would have helped, but if Ramis can benefit, then my reasons for refusing have vanished.
“Thank you! Hakkon-san.”
“Oo-, if Hakkon cooperates with us, we’ll have the strength of a hundred people … no, a hundred boxes!”
“With this, we just might be able to make it somehow-!”
It’s fine to be all excited, but, are, this is a huge responsibility, ne. They’re kind of acting like they’ve already won, but what would they have done if I said I wasn’t going to help them at all, these people.
I want to heave a huge sigh, but since I can only say predetermined words, I quietly withstood it.
“So this is Chain Restaurant. I heard the rumors, but it’s really splendid-looking, ne.”
“So, they finally got a branch even on this level.”
Ramis and Hyurumi have come to investigate the enemy together. Right now they’re in front of the shop but, as expected it’s not to the degree of a shopping mall, but looking at it from the point of this world, it rivals the Hunter Association in size.
The roof is dome-shaped, and looks to be one story. With most curved wood panels set in, it’s a round-shaped shop. It’s a very conspicuous design in this community.
The entrance’s door is big; shop-workers wearing coats close to primary-color yellow are yelling in loud voices trying to draw in customers.
“Welcome, welcome. If you want food, we offer everything; delicious, cheap, and convenient, you’ll want to get to know Chain Restaurant! We’re Chain Restaurant! In commemoration of opening day, right now we’re offering our products for, guess what, half-price, yes half-price!”
Somehow, it’s a very nostalgic atmosphere. If it was Japan, you’d see this spectacle more than enough, but in the other world it’s different; it’s rare, so the flood of people entering the interior shop doesn’t stop.
It’s prospering quite well. It’s well-known name and success also give it some influence. For new people who’ve arrived at the community, I understand their feelings of being able to order whatever they want here instead of going to a small store.
“Oh my oh my oh my. Well well well well, could this be spying on the enemy?”
The slender man who had been touting customers, while rubbing his hands together, stepped up. The smile that clings to his face looks like a really shady smile.
“Eh, how did he know we’re spying?”
“Ramis … your back, your back.”
Hitting her hand on her forehead, Hyurumi shook her head tiredly.
Well, yeah, carrying me on her back, anyone would figure it out. Does she have no awareness of how it stands out?
“So this is Hakkon, the magic tool that has a will. Our president was also interested, ne. How about it, would you work for us? You can expect good treatment.”
What an unexpected recruitment. It doesn’t feel like he’s joking, na, his eyes aren’t laughing at all. It seems like they want to make me, who’s their greatest existing hindrance, a companion, and draw me over to their side as soon as possible.
“Hakkon doesn’t have any interest in working at a place like this. Because he’s always going to be with me, ne. Right, Hakkon?”
And exactly why is Ramis puffing out her chest and making a ‘so there’ face? But, maa, since I reincarnated in another world, a regular, stable workplace is something I honestly have no interest in. And besides, if I work here, then I wouldn’t be any different from a vending machine in front of a supermarket.
“That is a shame. Maa, in several months, you will probably come to us yourself. Then, we’re quite busy, so excuse me.”
I will come to them myself? Exactly what is he saying, this person.
I thought the two people would go home now that the tension has dropped, but acting like it wouldn’t do if they didn’t do something, they entered the shop carrying me.
With an entrance so big that it’s no problem to enter with a vending machine, the interior is a spacious area without any other walls. The right side is for selling goods, huh. They’re offering dried meat and other foods that will last a long time. It’s mostly products aimed at Hunters.
In the center, there’s a counter stretched out facing the left; on the inside, there’s the kitchen. There, it’s the kind where you give your order and receive your food.
There’s also long tables lined up, with chairs set at even intervals. It looks like a food court like system.
Ramis got a pasta with meat and yellow-green colored vegetables in it. Hyurumi requested bread and a white fish meuniere-looking thing.
The impression from looking at both dishes is that it looks good, but it’s all normal food you’d find in an eatery; there isn’t anything particularly different that makes an impression.
“N-, it’s pretty normal tasting, ne.”
“Aa, it be like, at the level you can guess its taste.”
The two girls, with no special impressions, disinterestedly eat. If you don’t really have a palette for taste, it would be hard to compare flavors so it would appear delicious. However, the joy that comes when you eat it is absolutely not there. Though when they ate my products, the two of them were so delighted.
“It’s good, but, what is it. It’s normal, ne.”
“It’s ‘cause we so used to Hakkon’s food, this ain’t got the surprise or the excitement, na. It just normal good.”
I get it. Chain stores are things that don’t go above a certain level of artistry for taste.
Because they have to avoid displeasing everyone they cater to, they don’t aim for 100 points, they aim for taste that’s at least 70 points. It’s not like that’s bad. No matter what store, they have to aim for uniform taste, and they can’t do any flavoring that’s complex and takes too much time and effort. And since they sell at a low price, they’re limited on what ingredients they can use too.
And as a bonus, flavorings are expensive, so in this world the basics are salty or not-so-salty.
Right there is a weakness we might be able to break through in.
It also feels like their very typical menu limits them. Fumu fumu, I believe I’ve caught the tail of the solution.
- I have decided to translate this level in the dungeon as either Seiryu Lake or Clear-Stream Lake (seiryu meaning clear stream). Should I translate this proper noun or leave it in Japanese? I have equal like and dislike for either.
- While I could have translated the restaurant name (Kusari Shokudo) to Chain Eatery or Chain Cafeteria or something, I have a fondness for Japanese-style puns, and I am sticking to Chain Restaurant, because it’s SO RARE for Japanese-style puns to be easily translated 1 for 1. I am totally sticking behind this awesomeful decision.
<T/N: There are times when I finish, lean back, and wonder, “What the hell did I just translate?” This was one of them.
The owners of small mom-and-pop restaurants are all banding together to fight off a chain restaurant with the help of a vending machine.
…. … … and yet somehow this all makes perfect sense in context.
Just for context, though it’s only a thin reference in THIS story, in a Japanese story, a merchant rubbing his hands together for no reason is a characteristic of shady merchants. Of course, an author might use that as a red herring to make you THINK he’s shady, but it still stands that the action of rubbing your hands together is supposed to make you instantly think of a greedy, shady person obsessed with profits above all else. >