Chapter 48:

Epilogue: The Realest Lie

Love, Manga & Blackmail: A Secret Otaku's Countdown To Romance!

“Okay you two, say cheese!”

I stood next to Ichika, amidst a sea of people, confident and proud as always.

Cheers erupted at the back of the crowd, and loud chatter filled the courtyard of the school. Today was the day after all; we had just graduated high school.

“You think it turned out alright?” I asked Ichika, who trotted over to her mother and retrieved the camera.

“Sure, sure.” She fiddled with it a bit, a smile on her face.

“Haru-chan!” Riku came running over to us, his graduation garb big enough for him to trip over it and fall.

“Let’s all take a picture! You too, Ichika-chan!”



I pulled Ichika by the hand, as we stood in the middle of yet another memorable photograph.

Around us stood our friends, Chihiro, Sumi, Riku, Chiaki and Mari. Even after my revelation of being an otaku, these 5 never stopped looking out for me. Of course, it was still a bit awkward with Sumi, and Chihiro was a little too… confused to talk to me at first, but everything went back to normal in the next few weeks after the incident.

Of course, that change in me caused quite the uproar in the school too, but frankly, I couldn’t care less.

They could think and say whatever they wanted about me, because now I knew who I was. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Or the girl that was always next to me through it all.

“W-what?” Ichika blushed, as she caught me looking at her intently.

“Nothing.” I scoffed.

“I told you, I take way better pics than you! Check my picstagram!”

“Who cares about picstagram bleeeh! I’m way better with a camera! Just stick to eyeliner!”

Another event no one could have predicted was the weird… relationship Kirara and Mari seemed to establish. Despite their constant bickering, these two were inseparable. Always challenging each other and exchanging glares, yet managing to maintain a strong bond at the end of the day.

“Who told you to come here, anyway?” Mari hissed at her.

“Oh don’t be grumpy Mari-chwan! Our ceremony finished a while ago!”

“Get off me!”

While these two were busy arguing in their usual tone, Riku had found Kota to talk to by the side, both of them sharing their opinions on the games they spent all night playing.

Another unlikely pair.

Somehow, the weird mash up of otakus and normies became a constant thing after the vacation we all shared together. Just goes to show… we are not all that different after all.

“Okay, one more!” Ichika’s mother, still beaming, said, as we all gathered again.

A few, including Kirara, Riku and Chiaki flashed a winning pose, while Chihiro took note of his hair beforehand.

“Say gorgonzola!”



Away from the thunderous clicks of cameras, sobbing classmates and triumphant parents, me and Ichika walked back home, amidst the deserted streets of our neighborhood and beneath a late winter overcast sky.

On our way there though, we took a little detour. A detour that brought back memories.

We found ourselves in front of a manga store, adorned with posters featuring various magical girls and fierce shonen fighters.

“Hah.” I laughed a little, as Ichika stood in front of the sliding doors.

“Something up?”

“Nope…” I shook my head. “Just thought how weird it all is, that everything began with just a picture.”

“Hm, getting sentimental?” Ichika smiled.

“Nah, not at all.”

The tranquil days in this town were about to draw to a close. Ichika and I would soon head to Tokyo to chase our dreams – she aspired to become a doctor, while I aimed to pursue a newfound passion.

Never mind the good grades, the social status.

I wanted to do something I liked. And that’s why I picked the culinary arts.

Sumi was heading to a drama school to pursue her own dream, Mari was determined to become a clothing brand designer, and Riku was exploring practical options. Chihiro and his father's establishments seemed to be a fitting choice for both of them. Although I’m sure he would work him to the bone.

Everyone seemed to go their own way just like how I imagined.

And for the first time in a while, I wasn’t staying in the same place. I was moving forward. Being myself.

“Why are we here anyway?”

"I need to get the latest volume of Lilia-chan."


------- FIN -------

Dear readers,

Katsu here! First of all, congratulations for reaching the end! Secondly, thank you for reading! Without all of you this story wouldn’t be remotely close to what it is today. I want to thank each and every one of you for the support you gave me and kept me going! This story turned out to be way longer than I thought (surprise, surprise) but the fact you stuck to it fills me with happiness. No matter the outcome of this competition, I’m just glad I got to meet so many wonderful people, and read so many exciting stories. Like a dear friend said, maybe the prize was the friends we made along the way. Cheesy I know, but it is the truth. Good luck for everyone competing!

As for the novels I’m currently reading, this week has been a little wild thus far, but I’ll continue everything in due time, worry not! 

Katsu, out!

Mario Nakano 64