Chapter 1:


Turns Out This Rude Customer’s True Identity Is A Cute Vtuber!?

“Good evening everyone! Thank you so much for tuning in to today’s stream!”, shouted a female voice coming from my brother’s phone.

“Can’t you turn that off? I’m trying to get some rest, you know I’ve got an early start tomorrow!”, I complained as I covered my ears with a pillow.

“Oh, c’mon it’s not that loud, besides it’s Shuttle-chan’s 500k Subscribers Special! There is no way I can miss that!”, he replied with an energetic voice. He seemed euphoric about this occasion, almost as if he himself was the one who reached that milestone. I on the other hand couldn’t care less about some stranger on the internet celebrating the number of people they convinced to give them money. Let alone some anime girl who claims to be an anthropomorphize shuttlecock. How is that even supposed to work? Regardless, it just seems utterly ridiculous to me that people would get so invested into these virtual celebrities. Personally, I would never willingly waste my hard-earned income on some streamer goofing around online.

But I guess I’m alone with that opinion, as there are at least 500.000 other people out there who would argue against me, including my little brother. Even some of the customers at my workplace are publicly fanboying over these virtual girls. Most of them are high schoolers about the same age as my brother. It’s become inevitable for me to overhear their conversations during work. Apparently, there are even entire corporations out there dedicated to creating and managing so-called vtuber talents. But the one streamer that everybody seems to be talking about lately is this up-and-coming independent vtuber called “Shuttle-chan”. In just a short time after her debut, she already managed to amass a following of several hundred thousand subscribers across different video streaming platforms. Some even claim that she broke the record for the fastest growing vtuber channel.

From what I could gather, her success supposedly comes from her uplifting and wholesome personality paired with her cute looks and sweet voice. I’ll admit that her voice is rather soothing which is why I used to not mind when my brother watched her streams in my presence. I would just continue doing whatever I was doing at the time and not focus on the video itself. But lately I’ve started working the morning shift at our local convenience store and as a result have had wake up earlier than when I used to be in university. Nowadays, these late-night streams have become more of a nuisance than anything to my sleep and simply leave me groggy throughout the next day.

And to nobody’s surprise, this is exactly what happened this time as well. Like some sleep deprived zombie, I start today’s shift standing at the cash register. As I am ringing up customers, I notice a girl at the end of the line talking on her phone. She is wearing the uniform of the local high school in the area. In her shopping basket were only a few items including a bottle of water, a lunchbox, and some sweets. What caught my attention weren’t the contents of her basket however, it was here voice. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I felt like I had heard it somewhere before and not just once either. It had a soothing tone to it, even if the words that came out from her mouth weren’t as pleasant: “What are you staring at, creep?”, she said with a serious look on her face. I simply looked away and remained silent, I was too tired to deal with such a rude customer first thing in the morning. After tallying up the total amount of her purchase, she handed me a 10.000 yen note which was way beyond the price of her goods. It felt like she did it to spite me for staring at her earlier. “What? Never seen so much money before?”, she giggled.

I just rolled my eyes and calculated her change as she returned to her phone call. Then it suddenly dawned on me. I remembered where I had heard that voice countless times before – on the streams my brother loves watch – this girl is Shuttle-chan! There was no doubt in my mind, she was the reason why I didn’t get enough sleep last night. But how come was I so certain about this? Sure, she might sound like Shuttle-chan, but that could just be a coincidence. Their personalities couldn’t be more different after all. “Wasn’t Shuttle-chan supposed to be wholesome and sweet?”, I pondered. This girl was the complete opposite of that; she was quick to tell people off and make fun of them.

“Wait a minute, the way she said that though… it was exactly the same way as Shuttle-chan did when she received a large donation during yesterday’s stream”, I realized. To be fair however, her reaction was more of a: “WHAT?! I’ve never seen so much money before!”, but the pronunciation and choice of words were identical.

“Hey! What’s taking so long? I’m in a hurry y’know?”, the girl complained interrupting my thought process. I swiftly counted the remaining change and handed it to her. “Tch. So incompetent.”, she muttered, as she stormed out of the store. Relieved that nothing more serious became from this interaction, I looked back at the counter just to realize that she was about to leave the store without here groceries.

“Uh ma’am! Ma’am you forgot something!”, I called after her, but she was too occupied with her phone call to notice that I was talking to her. In a moment of absent-mindedness, I shouted: “Shuttle-chan you forgot your stuff!”

She abruptly halted. As if she had seen a ghost, she just stood at the entrance, frozen solid.

“I- I’ll call you back.”, she nervously uttered into her phone. She looked around hastily, as if she wanted to make sure nobody was around. Once she realized there weren’t any other customers in the store, she turned around and headed straight towards me. Her eyes were filled with rage. She slammed her hand on the counter and shoved her face right before mine. With a deadly gaze she looked me in the eyes and asked in threatening manner: “How do you know who I am?”

Dumbfounded I stood there, unable to process what had just transpired. “There is no way that just happened right? This isn’t some sort of manga story after all. Where are the hidden cameras?”, I thought to myself.

“Well?! I’m waiting!”, she yelled at me. I raised both my arms, as if I were held at gunpoint. I hoped to calm her down a bit by doing so, but it seemed to have an opposite effect. In fear of being punched in the face, all I could think to reply was: “Ma’am with all due respect, I have no idea who you are.”

“What?“, she looked at me with disbelief, so I elaborated further:

“I just called you that because you both sound similar and I didn’t know your name.”

Suddenly the anger vanished from her face and in its place emerged the realization that she might have just made a fatal mistake. She took a step back and stared vacantly at the counter. It was clear as day to me what was going through her head at that moment: “Did I just reveal my identity to him!?”

She shook her head and looked back up at me. “You are not allowed to tell anyone!! Understand!?”, she demanded while pointing her finger in my direction.

“Tell anyone?”, I questioned. “What am I supposed to tell them? That some nameless stranger I bumped into turns out to be a vtuber who I have never even watched?”

“E-exactly!”, she replied flustered. The girl paused for a minute before continuing.

“Hold on, how to you know what Shuttle-chan sounds like if you don’t watch her?”, she added.

With an annoyed look on my face, I explained: “My brother watches her streams, that’s how.”

“Then I forbid you to ever watch any of my streams!!”, she exclaimed while crossing her arms confidently.

“Huh? What kind of logic is that?”, I asked raising an eyebrow.

She looked away as she answered: “Well, as long as you don’t know my real name nor what Shuttle-chan looks like, then it should be alright for you to know that I am her.”

The girl seemed embarrassed by this entire situation; she must have felt like sinking through the floor. Not wanting to unnecessarily drag out this awkward conversation, I gave her the plastic bag containing her bought items and I assured her:

“Fine by me, I guess. I wasn’t planning on ever watching streams anyway, I’m not interested in that kind of entertainment.”

With a sigh of relief, she happily took the bag and smiled.

“Thank you, Mr. -“, she said as her eyes wandered towards my name tag. At the last second however, she abruptly stopped herself from looking at it by turning her head away. Puzzled by her sudden behaviour, I thought to myself: “Now what?”

“Your name tag.”, she stuttered: “C-could you cover it up please?”

Before I could say anything about her absurd request, she explained: “It wouldn’t be fair for me to know your name if you don’t know mine.”

“That’s a weird sense of justice you have there.”, I chuckled as I put away my name tag. “It’s okay, you can look now.”

She slowly turned her head back towards me. After noticing the absent name tag, her face lit up with a bright warm smile: “Thank you, Mr. Convenience Store Clerk!”

“So she can be nice after all.”, I thought to myself as she left the store. “I hope we never cross paths again though, that was a pain to deal with.”

When I returned home later that day, Shuttle-chan was already streaming as if nothing ever happened and as usual my brother was watching her. I on the other hand went straight to bed and tried to sleep.