Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!
As Ichika and her entourage approached, I noticed her brow arch at a peculiar angle, a mischievous glint in her eyes
Did she just laugh at me?
“What’s with this getup? Cosplay?” She smirked, seemingly amused by my choice of clothing.
Damn it, I’ll never be a real incospicuous nerd at this rate!
Before I could give my comeback, Ichika stepped forward.
“This is Naruse Haruhi.” She spoke, introducing me with what seemed like half-hearted commitment.
“I can introduce myself, you know…” I shrugged, despite her welcome attempt. I was difficult to handle like that you see.
“Heh, we already know who you are.” The short guy with glasses chuckled slightly, before giving me a nod. “I’m Morishita Kota. Nice to meet you.”
Wait, what exactly did he mean by that, dare I ask?
“Likewise.” I bowed slightly too. “How do you know me, though?”
Did I have more fans than I realized? I thought Ichika said they went to a different school?
“Of course we know you, Haruhi-chan!” The last of the group, the eccentric green-haired girl, spoke up, talking every bit like you’d imagine considering her demeanour. “Or should I say boyfriend-kun?” She smirked slightly, looking over at a blushing Ichika.
Wait, she hasn’t even told her friends about the real nature of our relationship?
Despite myself, I ultimately heave a sigh of relief. Thank God, they didn’t know me as Haruhi the ikemen.
“Speaking of which, you bagged yourself a real looker here, Ichika-chan!” She examined me closely, a sly grin spreading across her face. “I’m sure you’d make a great Uke, Haruhi-chan!”
“Uke?” I repeated, baffled.
Was that something edible? Did she just call me a snack or something?
“Ah…” Ichika sighed briefly, shaking her head. “Sorry, this is Endo Kirara. She’s into BL… like too much BL…”
“Thank you for the wonderful introduction, Ichika-chan. It’s a pleasure, Mistah Uke!” With a sparkling, playful wink, Endo offered both some gratitude and a courtesy for a greeting.
“Nice to meet you, too?” I hesitantly returned the greeting and turned around, feeling that I might have better luck communicating with the other two members of the group.
“Agh, it’s better you didn’t ask…” Morishita sighed and drew an x with his arms, flashing me a very obvious warning stare.
Noted. Don’t ask about a fujoshi’s weird terms.
“Okay, now that you’ve all been acquainted, let’s get a move on!”
As Ichika announced with a rare excitement, the group marched on towards the venue.
I was aware that these people didn’t know me, so they weren’t really surprised I was an otaku just like them, but somehow I’m hesitant to show my true colours here. It’s been quite a while since I did that after all…
Plus, there was something else I had to know too.
As we made for the convention, I found my opportunity to slip next to Ichika.
“Why are you hissing next to my ear?!” Ichika turned to glare at me, while I tried to get her attention.
“Care to explain why you haven’t even told your friends about our fake relationship?”
“Hey!” She protested, shushing me in the process. “You saw how much of an airhead Kirara is. Her parents see mine very often, and if she were to slip up and say something stupid to them, then we’re deader than dead!”
Dead? Suddenly, I can’t help but feel even more terrified of Yuuto-san than I was initially.
I shudder at that.
Shaking the terrifying image of Ichika’s father chasing me around with a kitchen knife away, I shrug.
“I see…” Still feeling sceptical, I keep on walking ahead.
“Hey…” Ichika nudged me.
“Relax, we’re…” She blushed slightly, averting her gaze “…Supposed to be a couple, you know?”
Taken aback, I clear my throat and nod.
Well, I guess blushing Ichika certainly takes more points than regular Ichika…
“We’re heeeere!” Endo let out a mighty battle cry as we finally reached the convention grounds.
As we approached, the scale and vibrancy of the event became apparent. The anime convention sprawled across the vast campus of a university, predominantly taking place outdoors. Stands lined the area, showcasing a diverse range of merchandise, including manga, figurines, T-shirts, and more. Cosplayers wandered the grounds, their meticulously crafted costumes bringing famous characters to life. Signs dotted the landscape, directing attendees to anime screenings, interviews, and various activities happening throughout the day.
The atmosphere was upbeat, pulsating with the shared enthusiasm of otaku from all walks of life. My eyes widened as I took in the sight of different events and booths featuring merchandise from my favorite shows. It was every bit as overwhelming as I seemed to remember, and there was only one word to describe it.
“Heaven!” I exclaimed, throwing my hands in the air “Look over there, that’s a Lillia-chan stand! And that one over there! Isn’t this a poster about that princess courting isekai?!”
Excitedly, I rushed toward another corner that piqued my interest, filled with items I was familiar with.
“That’s a Certain Love Sorceress Plushie! And over here too, isn’t that a certain cherry boy?!”
“Wow…” Morishita exclaimed, probably taken aback by my frantic reactions “You sure are excited, Naruse.”\
He smiled, briefly, yet knowingly.
Oops! My earlier reservations sure went out the window fast…
Clearing my throat, I try to compose myself, and reign in my desires. It is the first time in a long, long while since I came here, after all.
“Look at thissssssfglgf!!!” Foaming at the mouth, and clearly way more excited than me, I spot Endo whiz past me in the speed of light, only to step on the brakes before a stand right at the other side of the grounds. From this distance, I couldn’t quite make out what she was saying, and all I could see was her bopping her head up and down as she spoke animatedly at the person behind the counter.
More BL stuff, I’m sure…
Brushing it off, I proceeded with Ichika and Morishita in tow.
“Woah…” Morishita staggered forward, at the sight of a flashy cosplayer with a huge sword strapped on his back, and a blonde spiky wig on his head. “Are you cosplaying Fog-kun?!”
“Fog? Isn’t that from…”
“Last Imagination, yes.” Ichika nodded, as she too proceeded ahead.
“Can I… take a picture of you?!” Morishita gulped nervously, as he raised the camera from around his neck lightly.
The cosplayer nodded, and I quickly found my cue to follow behind Ichika too.
“Kota is really into JRPGS.” Ichika spoke as we walked, passing by seas of people. “…And photography. He likes taking pictures of cosplayers mostly, though.”
So Endo is into BL, and Morishita is into JRPGs, huh?
“What are you into then, Ichika?” I asked, almost on reflex.
“Hm…” She pondered for a moment, her gaze shifting from one place to another. Then, with a proud grin, she proclaimed, “EVERYTHING!”
Wow, that was quite the bold statement.
I too, was probably on the same boat, however. Manga, anime, light novels, JRPGS… you name it, I'm probably into it.
Not BL though… Definitely not BL!
“So, what about Lilia-chan?”
“Anime of the year, definitely.”
She replied, sporting a satisfied grin.
“X was peak. X-2 not so, but I appreciate the happy ending.”
“Hm, how about Onmyouji Yakuin?”
“Classic, mainstream, but still too fun to pass up.”
“Heh…” I chuckled, raising a brow. “It seems you have taste.”
“You too normie, you may be an idiot but you know what you’re talking about.”
Backhanded insults aside, she definitely seemed to be less high-maintenance when she was relaxed like this. Anime conventions really do wonders, huh?
I wouldn’t have come here today, had it not been for her blackmailing… maybe I owed her one?
Wait… why did she need me here in the first place? I got so wrapped up in the convention I completely forgot to ask!
While I was here, overthinking our situation, Ichika’s survey of the festivities. as we passed by cosplayer after cosplayer, came to a halt at a particular area of the convention.
I followed to where she was pointing, and sure enough, there it was.
A small stage surrounded by a moderate sea of people, with the colouring and shades of pink and purple on banners and posters all around.
“A Lilia-chan event!” I voiced, my eyes sparkling with newfound excitement.
After sharing a look, and a nod, we make our way towards the flashy stage with brisk, hurried steps.
Lilia-chan, here we come!