Jos Crane

Official website of Jos Crane, author.

You are excited to start your new job teaching (your language) in a foreign country. However, not long after stepping off the plane, you realize that your new home is in the setting for a wacky high school martial arts anime, and you have to survive for a year until your contract expires.


“Now boarding group 6 for flight A66” the muddy words bellowed from the airport ceiling. I looked at my boarding pass for the umpteenth time since I arrived at the airport. I should have this memorized by now. No matter how often I looked at it, I forgot what it said the moment my eyes left. I stood up and waited in the line that wrapped down the hall.

“Why are there so many more people in this group and the previous groups combined?” asked a man in my direction.

“Because they think people will pay more to board on sooner, but we’re all going to the same place at the same time,” I responded.

The man grunted. In hindsight, I think it was a rhetorical question. Once again, I looked at my boarding pass and something occurred to me: group 6 for flight 66. 666. I giggled at whatever conspiracy theory could exist from the numbers “666”. I looked at the boarding pass again to confirm my seat number, 13C. The line slowly moved towards the plane as I eventually went down the skinny aisle and eventually found my seat by the window. The man who I previously conversed with sat down in the middle seat next to me. We nodded in agreeance at each other’s existence and strapped ourselves in. I started to nod off.

A loud ding prevented me from completely dozing off, followed by an announcement. “This is your captain speaking. You are on flight 66 to Kyoto, Japan. If you are not planning on traveling to Kyoto, then this is your final chance to get off the wrong flight.” There were some chuckles. “Our flight time is approximately two hours and we’ll be traveling at an altitude of 35,000 feet. The flight should be relatively smooth throughout. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.” The captain’s speech repeated, I assumed, in Japanese. I was about to follow his directions when my seatmate leaned over to me and inquired, “Did she say two hours?”

“I don’t know, but it was probably a mistranslation,” I explained. “I think twelve hours would be expected.”

“Why are you traveling?”

“I’m going to teach at Mochizuki High School. Yourself?”

“No way!” he exclaimed. “I am going there to teach martial arts!”

“I don’t want to come across as dumb,” I paused a moment to see how he’d react. He didn’t and I continued, “why would they have a muscly white guy like you teach martial arts in Japan?”

“They wanted someone with Mixed Martial Arts expertise as opposed to Aikido, Judo, or Karate. May I ask what you’re going to teach?”


“Oh, cool.” He didn’t seem interested, then he put on his over-the-ear headphones as if to discontinue any further conversation.

The plane took off normally as one would expect. The snacks and drinks came shortly after. Then, something bizarre happened. A lightning strike hit the airplane. That in and of itself is not so much as bizarre as what happened afterward. Another strike. Then another. Pow! Pow! Crackle! Pop! I was looking outside the window and bursts of light were flashing like a machine gun. Little balls of light everywhere around the plane flashed like grenades, but we felt nothing. There was no turbulence. Crack! Pow! Bang! Bang! Pop! The cabin went dark.

When the lights came back on we were already landing. It couldn’t have been twelve hours already, was it? I reached for my phone to see what time it was, hoping I could calculate when I thought we left against the time it was now, but I must’ve been dreaming. My hand looked like a drawing like one would expect in a manga or an anime cartoon. Smooth coloring and sharp details outline my hand. I brought it closer to my face to examine it, wiggling my fingers and switching from the back of my hand to its front. I peeked over to my seatmate and he was doing the same. He, too, looked like an anime character version of himself.

“What the actual fuck!?” he questioned.

An announcement came on the speakers in the plane, but it was in Japanese. Though, I guess it wasn’t necessary as white subtitles appeared in my vision below wherever I looked. I didn’t catch the first sentence as I was still in shock as I moved my head up, down, left, and right, but the words appear in the same spot as if they were displayed on my glasses. I took my glasses off, and the English text still appeared. I began to read:

- as we land, we want to remind you that at the end of your school year we ask that you book a return flight with 66 only. Any other flight number may take you to an alternative destination! You may take the train to a direct stop at Mochizuki Hotel after we've deboarded the plane. Luggage will arrive later at your room. Thank you very much!

Wait a minute. Is everyone here going to the same place? I peeked around the plane, and like me, everyone was an anime character as well. Many of them looked of student age, but there were several adults as well. Were those adults also teachers like myself?

As I left the plane, I noticed everything was drawn like an anime. The seats in front of each terminal, the little shops, and even the people appeared drawn. Many faces, except for those on the plane, had no face at all just like anime when only main characters seem to have a face. Outside of the airport, it was more of the same. The train station was hand-drawn and so was the train itself. Even the little vending machines were drawn. I picked up a bento – a small box with compartments that contained chicken, rice, and pickled radish – at the train station while I waited. Despite the food also looking hand-drawn, it tasted incredible. I walked onto the train once it arrived and headed to my hotel.

The next day, all of the teachers met at the High School and met with the principal, Yamaoka Kiyomi. Kiyomi-san – which is how we are supposed to address our superior – provided a curriculum for each of us. I scanned through the pages of my chemistry curriculum and it flirted alchemy, medieval chemical science with some “magic” tendencies. My former seatmate was once again sitting next to me. I leaned over to him and jokingly asked, “Is this some kind of magic school?”

He didn’t find it funny. He responded to it with a deadpan face, “I actually think it is.”

Kiyomi-san explained that school days were typical for any other school in Japan, except when the moon was full. That would explain the name of the school, then. On days with a full moon, the school held a tournament. What that tournament entailed was unclear to me.

The first few weeks of school were like any other. I walked from class to class teaching chemistry according to the curriculum while also teaching an odd Latin-like language with symbols, graded homework in the teacher’s room, and spent my evenings browsing the streets of a hand-drawn universe. I’ve become accustomed to it. Then it was the day of the full moon.

All of the teachers sat in the gymnasium stands in a designated area, and students filled the seats. I was expecting a volleyball tournament or something, but I was about to discover I was completely wrong. Two names were announced. One of them was a student of mine, Tsuyoshi, and the other I didn’t recognize, Hachiro.

The lights dimmed in the gym and they stood across from each other at a distance I’d compare to two basketball hoops on a basketball court. The flooring itself appeared to be a pale wood with no paints nor markings. A path between them lit up the dimness and they began spinning their hands as if they were playing cat’s cradle. The gym was completely silent except for a few whispered words by the two boys. I heard Tsuyoshi repeating a Latin phrase I taught just a few days prior, “In absentia lucis, Tenebrae vincunt.” Then he placed his hands above him as if he was holding a heavy ball. His arms shook and then a purple-ish cloud formed between them and he threw it towards Hachiro. In its flight, a dragon formed throughout the next several seconds. Whisps of purple wind formed into scales as the head and neck formed. The front of the ball, brighter than the whisps in its wake formed a snout of the dragon’s head. Horns grew from its head. It opened its mouth as if to consume the other boy. The slow flight gave Hachiro enough time to yell “tenebrae et lux sibi succedunt invicem!” as he kicked towards the dragon and a flash of light formed at the bottom of his foot that was so bright that it forced me to close my eyes. By the time I opened my eyes, whatever happened was already over and Tsuyoshi was on the ground.

“What the hell was that!?” I asked no one in particular. My seatmate leaned over and explained that he taught him that was a trick a week ago, but he didn’t imagine that it could be used for something like this. I told him the same about the purple dragon. I was teaching symbols and Latin phrases, but just thought it was information for history more than an applicable function. We both nodded in awe and agreeance.

Medical staff ran towards Tsuyoshi and as they placed him on a gurney, I could tell he was badly burnt. Every full moon this tournament would continue as the process of elimination began. Most students survived with various scars and burns, and a few died in battle. Sometimes the audience was impacted by the fights. Since the teachers all had front-row seats, we often had to dodge attacks that didn’t go well or were reflected by the opposing student. Kiyomi-san usually protected us, but not always. While the first fight caught me off guard, I never felt the need to leave despite the warning I couldn’t leave before a year’s time. When the school year ended, I decided to stay forever.