Haruma Kusaoka only cares about external appearances. So when Haruma explicitly writes about it in his book report, he gets called in by his sister to question him about the contents. As his punishment, his sister orders him to clean the school rooftop and reflect upon his actions. Reluctantly, he accepts but upon arrival, he meets Yuu Chigusa, a beautiful girl only a year younger than him.
Yuu Chigusa just finished interrogating a fellow associate, disappointed by the lack of leads. She is searching for her associate that went missing. The only clue she has is that she was last seen in the Random Crossroad. Rumor has it that if you hold hands with your lover and walk down the wrong path, you may never return…
What happens when you take two writers and have them collaborate on a single book? You have a novel with varying different styles and perspectives. And that’s exactly what Kuzu to Kinka no Qualidea or Qualidea of Scum and a Gold Coin is. Kuzukin takes two characters with distorted personalities and different perspectives, and brings them together to create an very interesting relationship in somewhat uninspiring plotline.
Kuzukin is a prequel story to the events in the other works in Project Qualidea. Project Qualidea is a joint collaboration between Watari Wataru (writer of Oregairu), Sagara Sou (writer of Henneko), and Tachibana Koushi (writer of Date A Live). Kuzukin is set in a completely different time frame than the events in Qualidea Code.
To quickly summarize, it is hinted that aliens attacked the earth at the end of Kuzukin. At this moment, there is no clear relation between the two series besides this fact.
The events in Qualidea Code are completely separated from the actual plot in Kuzukin.
Haruma meets a crying Yuu on the rooftop and proceeds to console her, while regretting every bit of it. In order to escape the situation, he tells her to come see him again with the expectation that they won’t meet again. However, when she shows up to his house the next day, he submits to her demands and agrees to follow her.
After Yuu interrogates her debtor, the conversation ends on a harsh note with Yuu crying about how much money she lost and how much of her time was wasted. She grabs onto Haruma, an unexpected visitor, and brands him as a diligent and good-willed individual. Once she’s given the affirmation to come talk to him again, she obtains his personal information through her network of her “friends” and goes to his house to ask for his assistance.
I’ve just described a small part of the exposition but the story’s structure is similar to this format. The light novel splits perspectives between the two lead characters. Depending on who is the lead perspective at the time, we will get to see their thoughts and reactions of the present situation. For example, there is a moment where Yuu bumps into a stranger on the street. From Yuu’s side, it depicts Haruma as a prince for helping her up while being very egotistical. Meanwhile from Haruma’s perspective, he was only trying to prevent Yuu from taking a picture of the guy to use as leverage, all while commenting on her girlish appearance. The interactions between these two characters are the prime focus of the light novel and to see their equally scummy relationship is amusing to read.
Haruma Kusaoka is cynical high school boy who only cares about external appearances. From his philosophical monologues to the way he describes people to even his politically loaded jokes, Haruma resembles Hikigaya Hachiman from Oregairu. What makes him a bit different from him is the way he interacts with Yuu–and as an addendum, how he views women overall. He has a soft spot for Yuu, mainly because of his unwavering belief of external appearances, and that’s what motivates him throughout the entire light novel, even if said person has him wrapped around her finger.
“This world really is unfair, and as a result, it reeks with discrimination.
It’s not a matter of being special or unique—that’s common sense which anyone with half a brain would grasp.”
“There are positives to twisting logic to one’s own convenience. If you can allow it, you can kid yourself into believing that humans and vegetables are the same because they have similar water levels. Anyone saying that is a complete moron.”
“Women are sensitive about the way they’re treated, so they burst into unnecessary hysterics—they’re literally marbles.”
“Society is built on trust. Trust that goes by the name of cold resignation. Only resignation built on lies and self-deception can bring peace to a person’s heart.”
Yu Chigusa is an…interesting heroine. She’s an “unlikeable” person who acts in pursuit of money. Her beautiful appearance and social skills has made her an overwhelmingly prideful character with terribly distorted values. She’s like a female Kyoya from Ouran High School Host Club, except a lot more malicious and “manipulative”-and seductive, at least in the eyes of Haruma. She takes a liking towards Haruma due to his nature but horribly misinterprets it, skewing it with her proud attitude.
“As I gazed down upon that spectacular sunset view, I thought to myself: in this ephemeral human existence, what is most important?
—Money, of course.”
“Only a fool would let go of friends who produce money. Friendship is beautiful when it is backed by cold, hard reality, unfettered by flimsy illusions.”
“My superior qualities stand out precisely because everyone bumbles around, so clearly inferior to my beauty, sensitivity and intelligence. I must treat others with the equal care and attention they deserve.”
“I made up my mind. I would make this person my underling… No, I would make use of his manpower—I mean, accept his assistance—and I would look for that girl who had given me the slip.”
The supporting cast serves to help instigate some sort of reaction out of the two leads. In Haruma’s case, his beautiful yet slob of a older sister is a direct cause of his negative view towards women. For Yuu, her angelic sister is the only person she actively cares about…besides money. The rest of the characters have similar roles, only meant to highlight Haruma and Yuu. As a result, they aren’t very memorable by themselves. The same could be said about the mystery in the plot. It does bring the two together but the actual content behind the mystery is bland.
The illustrations were drawn by Saboten. Most of the pictures in the Kuzukin light novel are of Yuu Chigusa. She is depicted as very “cute” in all of her pictures and I want to say that Haruma’s creed of “only external appearances matter” applies here. The backgrounds are plain but it leaves only the character in full focus.
First of all, Kuzukin might as well be a standalone from the Qualidea Code series.
I would actually recommended reading this over that series. I haven’t read any of the Qualidea Code books but by seeing the anime adaptation so far, my expectations are fairly low.
The relationship between these two characters are the selling point of this volume, as both of their personalities brought together make for some interesting interactions. However, nothing in Kuzukin is something you should go out of your way to read. I guess read it if you want some kinda “philosophical” writing (and by philosophical, I mean Hikigaya Hachiman philosophical), character interactions, and an admittedly cute ending.
Author: Watari Wataru and Sagara Sou