Chapter 4:

Trail of Ascent

I Became the Manager of the First Galactical Idols

The only thing I had heard about idols was their astonishing popularity a thousand years ago. I didn't know what happened to them, nor was I curious about it. But, since I was going to be the manager of an idol group, it was essential to know about it.Bookmark here

I skipped the first result explaining what an idol was and tapped on the article beneath. The website loaded instantly and I began reading.Bookmark here

As I had heard, their popularity hastily declined over the span of a century. There wasn't one exact reason why it happened. Instead, many factors played a role. Morals, climate change, pandemics, and political conflicts between countries impeded their international growth. However, the drop that spilled the glass was the creation of humanoid holograms.Bookmark here

Humanoid holograms had become incredibly realistic and cheap enough by the twenty-third century. For idol fans, it meant the possibility to have their favorite idols in their homes to do whatever they wanted. For the popular idol agencies, it meant a huge business opportunity. They began selling holograms of their idols and, not long after, they realized it was more profitable to create their idols from zero instead of being based on a human.Bookmark here

Due to the popular idol groups disappearing as they were known, fewer and fewer groups emerged. Because the small groups didn't have the money to create their holograms, they had no other choice but to disband.Bookmark here

By the twenty-fourth century, the term idol was barely used anymore. It had been replaced by Humadream—or simply Huma—the term used to refer to a humanoid hologram created by the buyer; the human of their dreams. Instead of selling predefined holograms, the companies gave buyers the option to customize their holograms. The more customization they had, the more sales the company would have. Soon, holograms had become indistinguishable from real humans.Bookmark here

"Interesting," I said.Bookmark here

"Isn't it a shame?" Sanae commented. "Being replaced by fake humans…"Bookmark here

"Well, it's hard to compete against something like that. They perfectly resemble a human."Bookmark here

"Are you on their side already? Have you seen one in real life?"Bookmark here

"I have. Some of my friends have at least one."Bookmark here

"Sure, friends…," she remarked.Bookmark here

"I'm not lying. I wouldn't waste my money on that, it's expensive."Bookmark here

"Sure," she joked again.Bookmark here

"Whatever. We need to do something unique to win against the holograms. Do you have anything in mind?"Bookmark here

"Didn't you say we are going to be the best in the galaxy?"Bookmark here

"Yes, we will travel to other planets. But we need to change something in the core."Bookmark here

"Why?"Bookmark here

"Idols have already disappeared once. Something needs to change to prevent it from happening again."Bookmark here

"And what could that be?"Bookmark here

"I don't know."Bookmark here

Swiftly, Risa raised her hand asking for permission to talk.Bookmark here

"You don't need to do that," I said. "What is it?"Bookmark here

"I-I think nothing needs to change," she confidently said.Bookmark here

"And why is that?"Bookmark here

"Well, idols disappeared almost one thousand years ago. Maybe their return is already new enough to draw attention."Bookmark here

"Maybe. But what if it only lasts for a few months? There needs to be something to keep the fire burning."Bookmark here

"Right… I'm sorry for my dumb suggestion!" she bowed.Bookmark here

"No, it's a good point."Bookmark here

"Maybe you will get more ideas after researching more," Sanae said.Bookmark here

"True."Bookmark here

I tapped the return button and opened the definition of an idol.Bookmark here

An idol was an entertainer marketed for image, attractiveness, and personality in Japanese pop culture. Although they were primarily singers, they were also trained in acting, dancing, and modeling. They were commercialized through merchandise and endorsements by talent agencies. One of their main selling points was the parasocial relationship they developed with a passionate consumer fan base.Bookmark here

"Parasocial?" Sanae wondered.Bookmark here

I explained, "It means that the fans feel a close connection with an idol, even though the idol doesn't personally know their fans. It's a strange concept."Bookmark here

"I see. It would be a nice way of keeping the fire burning, but impossible."Bookmark here

"I guess that's why holograms replaced idols. Anyway, I should get started with my project."Bookmark here

The next two hours were filled with interesting information about idols, mostly taught by Sanae and Risa. They seemed ecstatic to share their knowledge. I understood the feeling.Bookmark here

What shocked me the most about what they told me, was how restrictive agencies were with their idols. They couldn't even have a romantic partner. Though I comprehended a bit more after Sanae and Risa gave examples.Bookmark here

Finally, I felt confident enough with my knowledge about idols. The remaining work was to describe the aspects of the business; its activities, goals, contracts, jobs, and more boring stuff.Bookmark here

Sanae and Risa seemed dead. They kept yawning and their eyes kept closing as their heads gave up on staying straight.Bookmark here

"You can go home," I said. "The rest of the introduction is tedious stuff that I don't need help with."Bookmark here

"It's okay. We'll stay with you…," Sanae replied, practically asleep.Bookmark here

Not even a minute later, they both fell asleep. With a smile, I continued typing.Bookmark here

The more I typed, the more I realized how hard and ridiculous it sounded. A topic that had died centuries ago, galactical trips, and lying about Sanae's and Risa's contracts. But I wasn't going to give up. I spent the next two hours finishing and polishing the document.Bookmark here

Satisfied with the results, I shook Sanae and Risa awake. We headed back to their home and we said goodbye. For a minute, I walked alone and scared through the Trading District until I got out of it. I arrived at my apartment ten minutes later. I jumped into my bed without even changing clothes and fell asleep.Bookmark here

I almost woke up late for the first class of the day. After breakfast and a shower, I headed out to the university, wearing an old pair of shoes.Bookmark here

Even in the middle of lectures, I kept revising the document throughout the day. Doing it gave me quite a few ideas, but I needed to wait for the lectures to finish.Bookmark here

The Business Administration lecture began and Fuku-sensei started with a speech.Bookmark here

"Three years ago, I told you about the final project of this program. I told you this early to give you as much time as you needed to find the perfect idea for you. Most of you found it right away, while some others didn't. Some have already even started their business to get ahead. Failure or success, you had enough time to learn. Today, each of you will present the introduction of your business."Bookmark here

I'm nervous! I wonder what everyone else will do for their business.Bookmark here

"Miyahara-kun, let's start with yours."Bookmark here

Eh? Me?!Bookmark here

Shaking, I stood up from my seat and walked down the stairs to the front of the room. As I walked past Fuku-sensei, she whispered at me.Bookmark here

"Use the board to display your document. Don't take more than five minutes. I can't wait to see your business!"Bookmark here

I nervously smiled and she walked away. I guess my impression of yesterday backfired…Bookmark here

I approached the corner of the board where a small hologram projected my name. I pressed the floating button to synchronize my data and a list with all my files appeared. I opened the project's introduction document and the contents appeared on the board.Bookmark here

I took a deep breath to calm myself down and cleared my throat to give my presentation.Bookmark here

I finished three minutes later. Everyone looked confused after I explained the LOB—line of business—including Fuku-sensei. She still clapped and proceeded to give useful critiques, although mostly about the document and my presentation. The only thing she said about the LOB being galactical idols was that it was an interesting proposal.Bookmark here

I returned to my seat and the rest of the students presented their businesses. As Fuku-sensei had said, most of them already had very useful data or had been established. Unlike mine, they sounded plausible and logical. Fuku-sensei discussed more with them about their LOB instead of their documents or presentations.Bookmark here

One minute remained before the lecture period ended, but Fuku-sensei let us go, something she had never done before. As I walked to the exit, she stopped me.Bookmark here

"Miyahara-kun, do you have a minute?"Bookmark here

Oh no.Bookmark here

"Sure. Is something wrong with my project?"Bookmark here

"How to say it? Your proposal is very… unique indeed. I wasn't lying when I said it was interesting. An agency for galactical idols."Bookmark here

"I know. Very crazy, huh?"Bookmark here

"There's nothing to compare it with. Among the businesses presented today, yours is the one with the most uncertainty in terms of success."Bookmark here

"Right?" I giggled.Bookmark here

I should've given up…Bookmark here

"However, it's the one I'm most eager about."Bookmark here

Eh?Bookmark here

"Miyahara-kun, what did you think when seeing everyone else's presentations?"Bookmark here

"That they all are more prepared than me."Bookmark here

"Apart from that."Bookmark here

"I compared them with current companies."Bookmark here

"Exactly. All of them presented businesses with very competitive LOBs. There might be more data for them but, even if they succeed at first, it will be very hard to stay afloat. You, on the other hand, have no information to work with. Even though your success is uncertain, I would say it's more likely to stay for a long time as long as you do it right. It's something new and, more importantly, galactical."Bookmark here

We stared at each other for a moment. It's the first time I see her this eager.Bookmark here

"Oops. I shouldn't have favoritism."Bookmark here

I laughed. "Thanks, Fuku-sensei! That's what I needed to hear."Bookmark here

She smiled. "By the way, what is the name of your agency?"Bookmark here

I froze. "I forgot to give it one," I giggled.Bookmark here

She chuckled. "Don't worry, it wasn't a requirement. Just do your best to make the best document throughout the rest of the year. I look forward to it."Bookmark here

"I will!"Bookmark here

Cel T.
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