Chapter 1:

An Otaku, a Friend, and a Sadomasochistic Influencer

My Childhood Best Friend is a VTuber! (OsananaV)

Mayu Hoshinoka.Bookmark here

Otherwise known as the Demon Queen of Moe, capable of destroying the world itself or your heart instead. She is cuteness incarnate, the only entity in the world capable of exuding the aura of a harsh older sister and a doting mother simultaneously. The picturesque vision of sadomasochism, the pinnacle of existence with a key to my heart.Bookmark here

That feels cringe, is that too cringe?Bookmark here

Anyways, where do I start?Bookmark here

My name is Akira Nonomi, I like to think of myself as more of an Aki kind of person and I would say that my friends lovingly called me by that name if I had any.Bookmark here

I know what you’re thinking – that sounds really sad. But sadness is a part of the game, when you’re too busy being sad then you don’t have any time for shame.Bookmark here

Look that rhymed.Bookmark here

I’m funny.Bookmark here

Okay please don’t click away so quickly, let me just hold your attention for a little while longer, you mysterious godly entity whose existence is ensuring my survival. I need your views okay, just like the goddess and divine presence in this realm, Mayu Hoshinoka, needs mine.Bookmark here

Being an Otaku is hard work - I must juggle my packed schedule of university studies and part-time work at the convenience store with insurmountable hordes of content relating to popular culture.Bookmark here

The fundamental principle of my life is that there are infinite amounts of virtual cuties and infinite ways in which to consume media relating to them. My purpose is to efficiently navigate all those modes of entertainment while earning enough money for myself to sustain my impulsive spending habits relating to said content.Bookmark here

Life is only so long and my consumption rate of visual novels, video games, online content creators, anime, manga, and light novels all pales in comparison to the rate at which these things are being produced.Bookmark here

What does this mean?Bookmark here

I am simply not efficient enough. I have failed my fellow anime brothers; I have failed society and now I am stuck with a backlog of content I will never get around to. Bookmark here

The burden is too great for me to bear.Bookmark here

I’ll try not to ramble on too much in the future, but I can’t make any promises.Bookmark here

Mayu Hoshinoka.Bookmark here

This popular virtual content creator - otherwise known as VTuber - has won my heart and evidently by her record-breaking viewer metrics, the hearts of many of the other fans around the world. I have clicked the donation button on her streams more times than I’ve opened the door to my apartment, and I’ve lived here for years now.Bookmark here

There is just something about her mannerisms, her way of speaking and her presence I find comforting – I’m not sure if I just need the company or if there’s something deeper there. I feel as if everything she does is just so familiar.Bookmark here

“Dun! Dun! Dun!”Bookmark here

Mayu’s voice radiates from my computer screen, warming up my messy studio apartment with her embrace.Bookmark here

This is one of those things that Mayu says that puts her right on the cusp of both being super cute and kind of embarrassing - the sort of thing you can only get away with when you’re a virtual person. Every time something gets a little risqué or chaotic on her stream, she will add her own sort of background noise or suspense effects to try and overdramatize the situation.Bookmark here

It's cute as heck! Although, I can’t imagine someone doing it in real life. Bookmark here

“Okay, now we’re getting to the end of the stream, I just wanna say thank you, everyone, for being here and supporting me; I don’t know where I would be without you!”Bookmark here

Mayu cracks a smile that shines through my computer, pixel by pixel, as donation messages start filling the screen; I hold my finger on the button myself, but I’ve already donated three times this stream and I need to be able to eat today.Bookmark here

“I’ll read some of these before I go; let’s see…Bookmark here

“BigStarLazer says: Thanks for the stream, Queen Mayu, you’ve really helped me turn my life around for the better – keep doing you!Bookmark here

“Well thank you BigStarLazer! Honestly, I feel so honoured that I could help you out, I hope things keep getting better for you. Let’s see, the next one…Bookmark here

“Magical69 says: Step on me please, big sister!Bookmark here

The lighthearted and pure aura of the great Mayu disappears faster than my dignity did many years ago. She sits back in her chair, puts her nose up to the audience and stares deep into our souls, her heavenly smile turning into a sinister smirk.Bookmark here

“You dare call me big sister? I would never be related to a half-wit as ugly as you! I will step on you, not because you asked me to but because that’s what I do with vermin. Know your place before you decide to come back in here asking me for favours.”Bookmark here

Venom spits from her mouth at a rapid pace as the demonic horns on her digital avatar flare-up.Bookmark here

This is the duality of Mayu and one of the reasons she’s so popular – she perfectly encompasses two of the major anime tropes associated with cute girls. On one hand, you have the loving, caring and nurturing side, whereas on the other you have the sadistic, impulsive, and domineering side.Bookmark here

Everyone is happy in the end!Bookmark here

But I think you’re beginning to see my problem here. Mayu streams for seven hours a day, almost every single day! The destruction of abominable fans like this and the sweet, sweet wholesome moments cannot be missed. This is leading to all my other content getting sidelined, decreasing my efficiency even further and there’s nothing I can do about it!Bookmark here

I have to be here.Bookmark here

Yeah, I know there are always clips available online but it’s not the same as being here, in the moment, to witness this annihilation.Bookmark here

It gives me a thrill like no other.Bookmark here

I’m not a masochist, if anything the more wholesome and cute side of Mayu appeals to me to a much greater extent. But in the game for Mayu’s heart, all these other viewers are my contenders and with every fan taken out like trash, the closer I get to rescuing the princess from the tall tower.Bookmark here

Not that I have any chance, even I’m not that delusional. I guess this is all a part of the fantasy.Bookmark here

With that, I take off my glasses and crash into bed – my lengthy brown locks caressing my pillow.Bookmark here

I’m looking forward to another beautiful day with my special demon queen. The frilly lace from her dress pulsates through my brain as I slowly drift off to sleep. Bookmark here

A demonic magical girl.Bookmark here

The familiar rattle of my alarm reverberates through my ears.Bookmark here

“Master, it’s time to wake up! Mayu wants to spend time with you! You wouldn’t want to keep me waiting, would you?”Bookmark here

This is the only reason I don’t hate waking up in the morning, having Mayu’s voice wake me up is the best part of my day. The official ‘Mayu Hoshinoka’ app was only released a few months ago, I have no idea what I was doing before that – those dark memories are completely erased from my brain now.Bookmark here

The app does have one caveat though - no matter how hard you try; you can never turn it off. If you leave the alarm going off for too long, then the voice change-Bookmark here

“Vermin, get your filth off this bed this instant! Not even these cheap sheets deserve someone as disgusting as you just sweating on them any longer than need be. I feel sorry for them, honestly. Now get up or I will have to remove you from the bed myself!”Bookmark here

I have no idea why the mean message is so much longer…Bookmark here

There are no settings to turn off that feature, although for some reason if you pay a few more dollars then you can make the message longer and more intense.Bookmark here

Exhibitionists.Bookmark here

It’s my fault for not getting to it sooner – it’s not like I wanted to hear it or anything, I was just so sleepy from staying up till the early hours of the morning watching Mayu.Bookmark here

Time to begin a new day! She should be just starting to stream now.Bookmark here

I go to my computer and bring up her Twitch stream, but nothing is there – not even a loading message or an image saying “stream starting…”Bookmark here

Hmmm, she must’ve gotten up late or something; she’s also prone to that sort of thing as well. As uptight as she pretends to be, she sure is a bit of an airhead sometimes.Bookmark here

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.Bookmark here

Okay, I’m going to check her Twitter feed. It hasn’t been too long but I’m sure she’s posted an update or something.Bookmark here

I scroll through the treacherous pages of the bird app, a mysterious place where nothing is to be taken lightly. One moment you’ll be scrolling through some wholesome posts about someone’s favourite anime, the next minute someone is starting a war and before you can get to the end of that thread, some lewd post exposes itself right before your very eyes.Bookmark here

Thankfully, I know how to handle this place with tact and quickly make my way over to Mayu’s profile.Bookmark here

Nothing.Bookmark here

Not that I expected anything, I have tweet notifications on for her, so I don’t miss an update.Bookmark here

Why I even looked in the first place is beyond me, what is happening to me? I swear to god I wasn’t always like this.Bookmark here

Buzz. Buzz. Buzz.Bookmark here

The sound of phone notifications fills the empty void that is my apartment. The sheer volume of alerts I receive is both exciting and worrying…Bookmark here

I’m not exactly the type of person who gets a whole load of people messaging them all at once.Bookmark here

I pick up my phone and start perusing the messages.Bookmark here

1 Notification from Mayu Hoshinoka | Doki Doki Demons
Bookmark here

2 Notifications from MumBookmark here

Ahhh yes, the only two people I ever get notifications from – I shouldn’t have expected any different. Bookmark here

I open up the tweet from Mayu.Bookmark here

“Sorry about the late notice everyone, the stream is cancelled for today – I had a previous engagement that I completely forgot about. We will do a catch-up stream late tonight when I get back!”Bookmark here

See? Total airhead.Bookmark here

The tweet is accompanied by a cute GIF image of Mayu holding out her hands in apology.Bookmark here

Instantly I’m okay with it.Bookmark here

I guess I’ll check what my mother messaged me about considering the stream is cancelled for now. Maybe afterwards I’ll catch up on some of the anime that I’ve been neglecting in favour of Mayu’s streams.Bookmark here

“Hey honey, just checking in to make sure you’re all ready for our lunch with Koiyomi and her family today?”Bookmark here

Oh shit, that is today! In all honesty, I wasn’t really planning on going because Mayu was going to be on.Bookmark here

“Please do make an effort to come, it’s been ages since you and Koiyomi last saw each other, and you both used to be the best of friends!”Bookmark here

Aaaaaaah, she’s got me there. Bookmark here

A twang of guilt hits my heart; not because I feel like I should go but because I don’t want to disappoint anyone there. Koiyomi and I were friends in grade school, she’s really the only good friend I’ve ever had in my life, but I think seeing her now after so long may be awkward.Bookmark here

I’m a completely different person and I’m sure she is too.Bookmark here

Not that it wouldn’t be nice to have a friend again, but I have Mayu now and for the most part that alleviates most of my need for companionship – as sad as that sounds. Bookmark here

I just don’t know how anyone else would compare. Bookmark here

Despite all these feelings, I get dressed as well as any hikikomori could when entering regular society, ignoring all my licensed merchandise clothes at a chance of my parents not thinking that I’m not a complete disappointment.Bookmark here

Maybe even Koiyomi will think I’m pretty normal too.Bookmark here

I check my phone to see the time and realize it’s already way later than I’d imagined – I’ve said it before, but I really shouldn’t have stayed up so late last night! Not that I have any regrets or anything, just noticing the fact that I shouldn’t have. Bookmark here

Thankfully the restaurant that we’re meeting at is just around the corner from my apartment.Bookmark here

Leaving the small apartment full of noodle boxes and stale clothes, I make my way through the corridor of the complex and down the elevator.Bookmark here

Everything in this place is so freaking neat and clean, sometimes when I’m all holed up in my room for so long, I forget that I live in a relatively nice place. Unfortunately, this makes it all the more awkward when I see other people who live here dressed nicely while I usually look like I’ve just jumped out of a garbage bin.Bookmark here

I try to navigate this place like I try to navigate the world, with my head down and my earphones in, trying not to inconvenience anyone along the way until I get to where I need to go.Bookmark here

One step after the other. I don’t know why but focusing on how I walk like this has the opposite effect than I want it to; you would think that concentrating on it would make it better but somehow when I’m like this, I usually forget how to walk properly and end up wobbling a little.Bookmark here

Heart rate rising.Bookmark here

It’s like when you try to focus on your breathing, and you feel like you’ve forgotten how to breathe properly or notice that you’re breathing really loud and wonder if it’s always been this loud.Bookmark here

That happens to everyone, right?Bookmark here

Ugh, who cares. Thankfully, I am just about here.Bookmark here

Dan Dan Ramen Retreat.Bookmark here

This place is great and has been a staple eatery my family has gone to for a long time, and now that I think about it, it was always a favourite of Koiyomi and her family.Bookmark here

Knowing them, they probably all still come here together all the time, which makes me tagging along after all these years even more awkward.Bookmark here

I enter the familiar ramen restaurant – a fine-dining interpretation of a relatively simple and common concept, which is what makes it the perfect place for family get-togethers. Within moments I see my family, accompanied by Koiyomi’s family at their regular table.Bookmark here

With just one exception.Bookmark here

Koiyomi isn’t there. Bookmark here

My heart sinks for a moment but there’s also the feeling of a weight that has been pulled off my shoulders. Other adults I’m already familiar with are easy to handle, other people in the same age bracket though? No way.Bookmark here

Heading over to the table, my newfound calmness of the situation is disrupted by a familiar voice behind me.Bookmark here

“Dun! Dun! Dun! I’m here!”Bookmark here

My blank stare travels across the room to Koiyomi – a girl standing just a little shorter than me a few meters away at the door of the restaurant.Bookmark here

There is something about her aura; from a cropped anime shirt that’s falling off one shoulder and the ripped black jeans - that tells me she is one of those anime fans that actively wear the clothing that represents who they are and manage to make it kind of cool.Bookmark here

What a strange creature.Bookmark here

As I am still reeling from her earlier introductions, my eyes dart to the pink highlights in her hair – there is no mistaking it. Her whole look screams Mayu and on top of that, the reminiscent sound effects overlaying her introductions match the exact voice she uses on stream.Bookmark here

There is no mistaking it.Bookmark here

She is…Bookmark here

She is…Bookmark here

A massive Mayu fan like me!Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.