The crisp winter air blew softly, my breath a spout of steam while I walked from class. My dorm was less than half a kilometer away, and it was getting dark, so I upped my speed as I strolled down to the university's student housing. I live alone in a small but traditional room. Making my way up the stairs, I smiled and waved to my male classmates as I passed by them. You'd think it was still odd for me to be looking up at underclassmen, but after two years at Tokyo University, I wasn't irked nearly as much as when I first began my college life at age 14.

Oh, how rude of me. My name is Ikijoji Haru, second-year sophomore at Tokyo University. Being just 155 centimeters tall, I'm often dwarfed by the many young men and women I go to school with, and even my fellow prodigies. I suppose it can't be helped. My mother and my father are both just barely 170 centimeters tall, so I won't be getting too much taller these next few years of my adolescence. Most people think it odd to see someone who should be a second-year high school student in a major university, often asking,

"Excuse me, but, like, aren't you a high school kid?" a girl with a strong Kansai accent asked me.

"No, miss," I smiled as I pulled out my college identification card. "I'm actually a second-year sophomore."

"Wow! You must be, like, super smart! Care to be my study buddy?" she grinned.

"I'm sorry, miss," I bowed. "But I'm afraid my schedule is busy enough as it is."

"Yeah, a smart-kid like you no doubt does a lot of things," she giggled as she patted my cheek. "Well, don't work yourself too hard, darling," she waved as she left.

"You too, miss," I smiled back at her as I went to my room. Girls weren't allowed to live in my dorm, which meant she must have been someone's girlfriend or a family member. But that didn't matter, really. I unlocked and slid open my door to my small but traditional dorm room. By most college standards, it's actually nicely sized, though I don't furnish it with too much. In the center is a kotatsu with four pillow seats, to the back is a decent-sized television with access to basic cable (courtesy of my parents' financial aid), a dresser at one side, and my futon on the opposite end. I kicked off my shoes as I entered my little home, hanging my jacket on my coat and hat-rack next to the entrance. My room had its own thermostat and air-conditioning (also a gift from my parents), so a quick flip to 21 degrees Celsius and my room became more comfortable. In my arms was mail I had received from my parents that day, and I sat at my table to read the letter.

Dear Haru,

How is college treating you? The family is doing just fine back home as we're making preparations for the reunion next month, so keep your suit nice and clean until then. Your father and I are most proud to see your outstanding marks in your pre-medical classes, and are thrilled that you've kept in touch despite your studies.

Ah, mother is always grateful that I keep in contact, as if she and father would suddenly stop hearing from me.

Now, to mix business with pleasure, dear. The day has arrived that you will meet your bride-to-be. This Friday, we will meet the Fukoya family at the Red Sakura Restaurant to talk about the marriage of you and their daughter Fukoya Mami. She is a first year at Waseda University, two years your senior. Her parents have told us that she is a bit stubborn, but has a strong personality. In any event, be sure to take the early train and meet us at home with your traditional attire Friday and arrive by 7pm. Until then, study hard and do your best, Haru!

-Mother

"Well, it seems that things will be getting more exciting soon," I smiled happily as I began studying for the evening. When Friday came, I made my way to the restaurant, greeting my parents happily as we headed to the private room to meet my future wife and in-laws. The Fukoyas, it seemed, were a taller family. I was also confronted by my fiancé's appearance. Though drab in a traditional kimono, it was apparent she wasn't the traditional type. Her hair itself was dyed half in crimson and half in an electric azure. And…I don't mean to sound uncouth, but she seemed…how shall I put it…more 'western' in her feminine assets. Not that I minded, it was just a little…awkward to see a young Japanese woman with such a large bust!

"Greetings," I bowed respectfully to my fiancé as both our parents nudged us forward. "I am Ikijoji Haru. It is a wondrous pleasure to meet you."