Yōsuke Hirata gives a monologue where he states that his duty is to protect his classmates. However, back then he was a different person whose existence was rather that of a shadow, perhaps similar to Kiyotaka. Therefore, he sometimes sees Kiyotaka overlapping with his previous self. But after his childhood friend attempted suicide after being constantly bullied without him noticing, he began to think of how to get rid of bullying. Yet, he failed, and seeing the class in crisis again, he decides that there's only one way to protect them. The scene then switches to Hirata telling Suzune to shut up, with his classmates looking surprised at him.
Chapter 1 Edit
The results of the previous exams are announced and everyone passed. Another special exam is announced on March 8 (Final Special Exam).
Manabu and Nagumo were talking, then they saw Suzune and exchanged some words with her. Nagumo then offered her a seat in the Student Council. Both Manabu and Suzune were surprised but she declined the offer and returned to class annoyed.
Chapter 2 Edit
On Monday, March 2, Sae Chabashira announced a new special exam and she's a little bit restless. Different than last year, this has never been done before. It was the first time in school's history where no student was expelled yet (at this point). Special exam's failure rate is 3% but it's very hard to lower that percentage to 0%.
The name of the exam is "Class Poll" and the details are the following:
- Students can give praise votes to students from other classes. Even if a student is hated by all within his/her class, he/she can still be saved by praise votes from other classes.
- The winners will get protection points. They can invalidate expulsions (e.g. failing an exam). Protection point is non-transferrable. This is almost equivalent to 20 million points.
- The rules:
- Praise and criticism interfere with each other. Praise - Critic = Result
- No self-voting
- No action such as entering the same person more than once, entry blank, abstention or similar
- The exam is repeated in case of extreme coincidences until the top and bottom are decided, the bottom is the one to drop out.
- Each student has a voting ballot dedicated to issue it to students of other classes, and filling is mandatory.
- Students with the highest criticism can still be saved using 20 million points.
- The vote results will be announced with only the rankings and number of votes, but the voters' names will be kept anonymous.
During lunch time, the Ayanokōji Group had a meeting in the cafeteria after lunch to discuss the special exam. Even if only five people were to cooperate in this group, each member can get 3 votes of praise. The important thing is that you can cancel out three critical votes. They also hit 5 critical votes. Airi is nervous about being targeted. They are thinking about alliances to form a larger group but decided it might not be a good idea. They also discussed possible candidates for criticism votes - Kōenji was the possible candidate, but Airi argued that he's contributing to class. They also saw Ryūen sitting alone reading a book, implying that he will take no action to protect himself. Suzune went to ask Ryūen about hint and his action, but got mocked instead. She eventually asked if Ryūen could survive the situation using his full strength, to which replied with an accepting laugh.
Kei called Kiyotaka that night and they discussed about the exam. He asked Kei to contact him if she found anyone consolidating power to target someone before ending the call. He intended to not getting deeply involved in the voting operation, but in preparation for unforeseen circumstances, he would observe the movement of the voting.
Chapter 3 Edit
The Ayanokōji Group decided that one of the members will go to school early to observe and collect information for three days.
Going to class, Kiyotaka saw Ichinose and they decided to walk together. Ichinose wanted to save all of her classmates and she also offered to put praise votes for Kiyotaka. They then saw Nazuna Asahina, their upperclassman and Kiyotaka let Ichinose go ahead so he can have a talk. They talked about the first year special exam and the only way to reverse expulsion is 20 million points. Asahina said that Nagumo can provide help in exchange for companionship (or dating).
Around lunch time, Kiyotaka visited the library, where he met Hiyori Shiina. They sat next to each other and just silently read books for about 30 minutes until end of lunch break. Kiyotaka then asked Shiina about Ryūen's situation. Shiina replied that it's not good and Ryūen seemed to have understood that. Shiina also told Kiyotaka not to get himself expelled, since she doesn't want to lose her friends anymore.
After class, Hirata asked Kiyotaka to meet him later at the Keyaki Mall, and Kiyotaka agreed. On his way there he met Arisu Sakayanagi and Masumi Kamuro. Sakayanagi and Kiyotaka decided to talk about the new additional exam. Sakayanagi revealed that her father, Chairman Sakayanagi, was suspended the other day. She then asked to delay their fight, since they can't make conflict between the classes in this exam. Kiyotaka agreed. They talked a little more about the exam and Kiyotaka bid farewell to Sakayanagi.
Kiyotaka met Hirata, who asked to talk at his room instead. On the way to the dorms, they saw Kōenji, who told Hirata he should make sacrifices. At Hirata's room, he asked Kiyotaka whether someone should leave the school or not and he's still finding a way to save everyone. Kiyotaka believed Hirata would probably sacrifice himself. Before leaving, Kiyotaka asked Hirata whether he had already been dating someone else, to which he denied and, in return, asked Kiyotaka if he liked someone.
Ichinose met Kiyotaka at his room at night. Kiyotaka asked her about the plan for this exam. He told that he'd known about her cooperating with Nagumo and its conditions, to her surprise. When asked about the missing amount, Ichinose revealed that it's a little over 4 million points.
Chapter 4 Edit
The morning of the third day after the additional test was announced, after going down to the lobby, Kiyotaka met Sudō (who used the stairs) and they exchanged a few words.
When Kiyotaka entered the classroom, he noticed a change in the air. It was different from yesterday. There's a sense of 'unity'. It could be seen that it implied the existence of a larger group that will challenge this examination. Hirata, Suzune also sensed it. Keisei could also smell it even though he did not seem to understand the difference.
On lunch break, the Ayanokōji Group were discussing about the larger group and who the target might be. It's unusual to see the number increased in just a single day. It seemed that Hirata and Suzune have not realised the existence of the larger group. On Hirata's case, this might be because he stood neutral on these things. If he was asked for cooperation, he might try to oppose and dismantle the large group. Kiyotaka then received a phone call from Manabu and left the cafe.
Kiyotaka met Manabu and his former secretary Tachibana. They discussed about the exam and his sister. Manabu also asked about Nagumo if there's any unusual movement there, but Kiyotaka haven't observed anything yet. Kiyotaka replied that he'll do what he can do.
Kei called Kiyotaka in the evening and told that the large group is targeting him. He then called Manabu and told him to provide a bit of help. He later called Kushida and directly ask for the ringleader, since he already believed Kushida should know and she is the only one in Class C who is capable of going around accumulating vote in shadows. At first, Kushida denied being the one behind it and just told him that she really knew the ringleader but cannot provide that info, since she was the only one who knew and the person would definitely know that she betrayed them. Kiyotaka accepted that and did not push further. She then asked about his countermeasure afterward which he replied that if she would not tell then there is nothing he could do. Kushida abruptly gave the answer - Yamauchi, and explained that she told him because she wanted to see how he would turn around the situation.
Chapter 5 Edit
Kiyotaka entered the classroom, followed by Suzune with Sudō in tow. From observing Suzune's attitude, he thought that her brother has not contacted with her yet.
On Friday, the day before the exam, at lunch, Suzune and Manabu agreed to meet after they had a phone call. When she arrived at the destination, her brother was already there. They talked about the first year exams. Manabu told that he wouldn't be able to support her in points because of what happened in the previous exam. Suzune denied needing it and instead, asked for her brother to give her courage. They then talked about the school and Kiyotaka. Manabu told Suzune that she can't reach Kiyotaka, but that's not needed and she just has to grow up as she is and move forward.
After school, Chabashira announced that tomorrow will be the exam. Suzune stood up and got everyone's attention. Hirata tried to stop her. She argued that excellent students being dropped in this exam will be unfair. Kōenji supported Suzune and remarked that she's like a different person. Suzune then offered to name the person who should leave, claiming she's doing the right thing and will explain it. Hirata blocked the suggestion and tried to move on but was prevented by Sudō, with the help of Kōenji who is interested in this discussion. Suzune declared that the person is Yamauchi. Yamauchi reacted but she provided her supporting ideas regarding his overall weaknesses that outweigh Sudō, Ike, and Kōenji. Yamauchi struggled trying to defend himself. Suzune then delivered her final blow telling that Yamauchi is a spy for Class A via connection with Sakayanagi, meaning he was doing the worst thing possible to class. He tried to brush away the claim but no one seem to believe him, while Kōenji consistently ridiculed him. Suzune also pointed out it was Kushida that also helped him gathering the criticism votes against Kiyotaka, with Kushida admitting her fault in order to avoid lowering her evaluation. Suzune tried to do prior voting, but got stopped by an enraged Hirata who believed that her action provided no benefit to the class and their friendships. He, however, could not raise any suitable answer to Suzune's verdict. The class ended with undecided result.
The Ayanokōji Group then met at the cafe and they were worried about Kiyotaka. He analysed the situation with them and received encouraging words from Airi.
Afterwards, the group saw an expressionless Hirata sitting on a bench. with Kiyotaka noting that it's the first time he saw him in this state. He left the group and went to sit with him on the other side of the bench. Hirata told Kiyotaka that he wanted him to lead the class in the future as he could not do it anymore, with Kiyotaka insisted that Hirata must be the one to protect their class. Hirata got up and left after complimenting Kiyotaka.
Chapter 6 Edit
Over class D, Ryūen is in danger of being the one to be expelled. Ibuki and Ishizaki wanted to save him because they knew their class needs him to survive, since the differences in power between them and other classes were obvious. Ibuki would also be the next target if Ryūen was expelled. In the midnight, Ibuki met Ryūen at his room to collect his private points. After receiving the transferred points from Ryūen, she left and made another call to a person and decided to go to his room.
Earlier on the same day, in class B, Ichinose asked her classmates to give her all of their private points so that everyone in the class would be saved. The total amount was approximately a little less than 16 million points. Ichinose revealed that the Student Council president, Nagumo, agreed to lent them the missing amount, but she did not tell the terms of agreement.
At night, Ichinose made a phone call to Nagumo to confirm for the final exam tomorrow. She agreed to go out with Nagumo as a condition. After finishing the call, she contemplated on her decision, but was eventually determined to protect her class.
A few days before, after the additional exam was announced to class A, Sakayanagi asked the class to target Katsuragi. Katsuragi did not show resistance and stopped his supporter, Yahiko Totsuka, from trying to argue against it. Everyone except Totsuka and Sakayanagi all agreed to put criticism votes for Katsuragi. After school, Sakayanagi called Yamauchi and decided that they would meet that night. Sakayanagi and Kamuro later joined Yamauchi at the Keyaki Mall. Since she cannot be seen in this situation, they used a karaoke room as a meeting place. Sakayanagi persuaded Yamauchi to "cooperate" with her, promising to give all the praise votes from class A to him. In return, he had to make Kiyotaka the target of his class. Yamauchi was reluctant but the promises from Sakayanagi won over his heart. He's also suspicious at first if he would really receive the praise votes - but she threatened not to meet him again. Afterwards, Sakayanagi started receiving reports from Yamauchi.
Back to the day before the exam, at night, Sakayanagi was in a karaoke along with Kamuro and Hashimoto. They got the report that class C had found out about Yamauchi, with Hashimoto telling Sakayanagi the one that leaked the information was Kei Karuizawa, who was also in Yamauchi's group. Sakayanagi was interested in what Kiyotaka would do about this. She then pulled out her cellphone filled with incoming calls and emails from Yamauchi.
On Saturday, the day of the exam, almost all situations seemed to have settled. There's no absolute guarantee in this exam until the results are published. Suzune asked Kiyotaka if he already did anything since he was in danger. He replied that she had already helped him so there's no need to do anything. Hirata bowed his head and apologised to Suzune for his behaviour yesterday, then requested everyone to write his name instead on the ballot. Suzune was upset but Yamauchi supported the decision. Kiyotaka thought Yamauchi probably had contacted Hirata yesterday and begged him that he did not want to leave. It might also be one of the reasons why Hirata established his willingness to leave.
After a long silence, Chabashira arrived in the classroom and announced the start of the exam. The students would be called by their names and go to the voting room.
The results were announced afterwards. In class A, Sakayanagi was the winner with 36 votes. Meanwhile, the one who gathered the most criticisms would be required to come to the staff room. Mashima, the class's homeroom teacher, then announced that the person with the lowest votes was Totsuka, with -36 votes. Katsuragi raised his voice and stood up, while Totsuka himself couldn't believe it and looked at Katsuragi. Mashima confirmed that Katsuragi got -30 votes. Katsuragi confronted Sakayanagi about the agreement that he would be the target. Sakayanagi explained that Katsuragi will be more useful for Class A than Totsuka. They confirmed they couldn't cover the 20 million points needed to reverse the expulsion. Totsuka lost his words and left along with Mashima. Katsuragi then moved quietly to Sakayanagi but Hashimoto and Kitō got up in a hurry to stop any act of violence in case. Sakayanagi said it was pointless to hate her and Katsuragi accepted the fate.
Over class C, Yamauchi finally revealed that Sakayanagi promised him with praise votes from Class A. Kōenji continued provoking him. Chabashira arrived and began announcing the results, starting with the top three that received highest votes. Third and second place were Kushida and Hirata, and first place was Kiyotaka. Yamauchi was the first one to react. Chabashira confirmed again that Kiyotaka received 42 votes. Suzune could not hide her surprise. Chabashira then announced that the one received the most criticism votes was Yamauchi, with -33 votes. Second place was Sudō with -21 and then Ike with -20 votes.
Yamauchi lost it and argued that Sakayanagi promised to give him praise votes. However, Chabashira asked for proof and he could not give anything. Kōenji mocked Yamauchi which provoked him to attack with a chair, but Kōenji easily dismissed it. Chabashira intervened and told Yamauchi, who's now broken and collapsed, to leave the classroom.
Kiyotaka observed the class. Hirata had been half empty, while Sudo and Ike quietly left the classroom. Kōenji said he was just cooperating to avoid expulsion. When Kiyotaka left the classroom, Suzune immediately followed and asked him about the results.
Kiyotaka then went to see the bulletin board, where the results are announced. Ichinose (98) and Kaneda (27) were the other ones that received the highest votes. Manabe was the one from class D to drop out, while class B managed not to lose anyone. Katsuragi and Ryūen were also there and they talked about the results. After Katsuragi left, Kiyotaka and Ryūen talked, when Kiyotaka thought back about what had happened beforehand.
A few days before the exam, Ibuki and Ishizaki came and asked Kiyotaka to help saving Ryūen. Kiyotaka, while denying he could save Ryūen, told them to collect his private points.
The night before the exam, Kiyotaka arranged for Ibuki, Ishizaki and Ichinose to meet at his room. They collected over 5 million points from Ryūen and Manabe was chosen as the target to save him, with the help of Shiina. Kiyotaka asked Ichinose to tell her class to give all of their praise votes for Ryūen. In exchange, Ibuki will fill the private points that class B were missing to save a student from being expelled, with Kiyotaka acting as a witness.
Kiyotaka met Kei and she also asked him about the results. He then received a phone call from Ichinose. They talked about the results, with Ichinose thanking Kiyotaka for helping.
Kiyotaka then went to meet Sakayanagi, who had told him via email to meet in the special wing. They talked about the additional exam that was just finished. Sakayanagi also revealed that it was her reason to postpone their battle, as she had received a mail from the person that took her father to suspension. She also gave him all the praise votes so he could stay. Yamauchi was targeted after bumping into her back in the Mixed Training Camp and that he's an unnecessary student for his class.
A man dressed in a suit suddenly appeared in front of them and asked where the staff room is. He introduced himself as Tsukishiro, who would be acting on behalf of the board of directors. After exchanging some words, he started walking past them and suddenly kicked Sakayanagi's cane. Kiyotaka caught her but got pushed by Tsukishiro against the wall right after. Sakayanagi asked if acting violently against the students would be a problem, to which Tsukishiro replied that the surveillance camera had been replaced with a false image. Tsukishiro then gave Kiyotaka a message from her father, threatening him to come back. Tsukishiro continued provoking Kiyotaka but he did not retaliate, in case the camera was actually still recording. Tsukishiro then released Kiyotaka and left, announcing that he'd formally start working at the school in April. Kiyotaka then asked Sakayanagi to settle their fight on the next exam, the Final Exam, in a few days, since it seemed he could not afford to be her opponent for a long time.
On Monday, after the exam, class C's number of students has decreased by one. The final exam for first years will be announced.