He reminded her of a comedian.
Now, Zuikaku wasn’t exactly sure why she thought that of the Commander on their very first meeting.
Perhaps it's because of the happy-go-lucky air around him as soon as he appeared? She didn’t think so. If any, she’s more at ease because of it.
Or maybe it’s the smile he presented to everybody. She never saw someone of rank smiling that wide before; so unsophisticated, yet innocuous.
Or, as implausible and outrageous as it might seemed, perhaps it's the Kansai accent? As he introduced himself, why did she find it so amusing, as if someone had tickled her? This was not even the first time she heard people talking like that—could she be the one being ridiculous here?
The answer came when Zuikaku glanced at Shoukaku as she spoke with the Commander; throughout it all, she kept a straight face.
Apparently, she was the one being ridiculous.
“Ah, and you are Shoukaku’s sister, huh? Zuikaku, is it? Looking great, I see. Your smile is as big as mine.”
The now wide-eyed Zuikaku realized she had been smiling—maybe even grinning—and in her surprise and haste to straighten her own face, she bit her lower lip by accident. The Commander looked on as the carrier whined and withdrew the hand he was extending—The handshake can wait.
“Ah...Uh...Sorry, Commander...I, I didn’t know. Sorry for being disrespectful.”
“...Actually, I'm curious why you would feel the need to apologize; nothing is wrong with you smiling. Heck, I smile pretty much all the time. Besides, I’m from Osaka. We are rather fond of honest fellows,” he said and laughed in such an animated manner that the officers escorting him looked at each other and shook their heads, while Shoukaku stole a glance and smiled knowingly. Zuikaku had no choice but to weakly laugh along so she could better bear the embarrassment.
“...uh, I, I’ll be in your care, Commander,” she eventually managed after the laughter ended.
“Likewise; and with an amusing start such as this, I’m sure we will get along well.”
The Commander laughed again after that. As this happened, Zuikaku could only think,
Am I the comedian all along?