A VTuber's Hidden Side - Chapter 1 - Make. Me. Mom
Peaceful skies hung over Tokyo again this April, the perfect weather for flower viewing. Yoshino cherry trees surrounded the school gate and were in full bloom, as if to say “I’m here!”. The bright warm colour was like a scene straight out of fantasy.
The peak of spring was definitely at this time of year.
Not even a week has passed since we switched classes after the opening ceremony. That’s just what happens in April–
It was lunchtime.
A girl sitting on my right was munching away at a carrot stick.
Yamashiro Kirisa’s rough voice sounded out. I continued to move my pen on the tablet as she called me, only tilting my ear towards her.
“Hey, did you hear me?”
It seemed like I was free with the way I was sitting alone and eating, and so my friend sitting near me tried to talk with me about club stuff. Unfortunately, I was currently working. If you want to kill time by chatting, please find someone else.
“You know, I just happened to hear this, but… is it true that you have been hitting on girls recently?”
I felt a gaze on the tablet in my hand, and so I finally decided to look at Kirisa.
“There’s no way I’d do that.”
“…Yeah. Thankfully. This is a rumour that really shouldn’t be true.”
“Ah. I wasn’t hitting on girls, I was just asking if they could model for my rough sketches.”
“You really did do it! Such an absurd thing…what are you trying to do?”
“Don’t you know? Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18…”
“Don’t use Einstein’s quote as an excuse, please.”
My retort was as sharp as the edge of a katana–but anyway, how do you even mix up sketching models and hitting on girls? Every artist in the world would get mad at that, you know?
“Suddenly starting this kind of thing, what on earth brought that on?”
“Nothing much. Over the spring break, I just suddenly thought, “What if I used real life girls as reference material for my godly illustrations?”, and when I actually tried it, the composition and feel of it perfectly captured my thoughts, so I kept doing it… that’s the only reason.”
“Even if you suddenly thought of that, it’s not something you should do, right? Ah, I feel like fainting…”
Kirisa held her head as if she was dizzy, although I really wasn’t lying.
Ever since the opening ceremony for the second year students, I would ask any girl I could find to be my model for 30 minutes, usually getting a surprised response. If they let me sketch them without trouble I would give them a reward in return–either pure cash or a gift, and if they didn’t want me to sketch them, I’d just thank them and that would be it. I never thought that it would be seen as me hitting on girls.
“This misunderstanding is annoying, so I’ll just say this again–I’m only interested in the girls’ bodies. I have no interest in their personality or nature whatsoever. Please trust me.”
“If someone heard that, they’d think you’re the scum of the earth though…”
While we were talking, I finished the rough line art for today’s Tmitter post. Now, what should I draw for the background…?
“First of all, I don’t think it’ll be that helpful. Beginners aside, don’t you already have an idea of what a human looks like? I don’t think it’s very effective.”
“No? When I tried it, it was pretty good.”
I realised this after doing a few sketches, that drawing real girls gave me more experience as an artist than using an image.
Although my experience helps me get started when I’m thinking of unique character designs, but when taking into account the feel of the skin, the muscles, the range of movement for that body type, using a real girl is more consistent and allows you to understand the finer details better than design dolls and 3D models in art software. Anyway, without the cooperation of those real girls, I definitely would not have been able to add such essential ingredients to my art.
Of course, with me asking them so suddenly, the chances of the girls agreeing is low, it’s like having a batting average of 10 percent–but considering the illustration quality I get afterwards, this level of suffering is acceptable.
If it’s Kirisa, showing her the results might be faster than using words.
She’s one of the few people who knows that I’m an illustrator, after all.
Showing her the illustration would convey my thoughts better than words.
“Ah, I know. Come, look at this.”
I stopped working on the rough sketch that I was doing, and opened up Atelier’s Tmitter page on my tablet. Which one should I choose…ah, let’s go with this.
I came across the illustration I did last night, and decided to show it to Kirisa.
“Woah…y-you can’t display this kind of art in the classroom, for many reasons!”
It’s not like anyone else can see it from this angle, and besides, you should be paying attention to my illustration instead.
“For example, this really popular social game character with silver, long hair here…look at the line across her tights from her calf to her waist. In order to replicate the muscles, I took reference from one of the girls from the basketball club…and it was absolutely perfect. The perfect combination of softness and firmness of the muscles. Ahh, I can’t get enough of it…why did you turn it off?”
I was kindly providing a thorough explanation, and yet you went ahead and switched my tablet off.
“What on earth is this sudden explanation! …Plus, even if I’m a hundred million percent* wrong, you could just stop at the model part.”
Hundred million percent? That doesn’t even make sense anymore.
*TL note: There’s literally no way I can TL this pun but basically the original was 億歩譲って(concede a 100 million steps) which is a play on 百歩譲って (concede a 100 steps) which means “even if that were true”, “even if I conceded 100 steps”. Basically she exaggerates and MC makes a pun on it.
“But…why is that character dressed in a bunny girl outfit!? …D-don’t tell me you got your model to wear that in real life…”
“Hey hey, no matter how you think about it, that kind of request is impossible. Come, have some common sense, will ya?”
“Y-you just said common sense was…but, that’s right, eh. That level of common sense, surely you have that, right, Chikage…?”
“…Well, after doing the rough sketch, I’m just saying this but, even though I just asked them for reference, do you think I have no interest in bunny girl outfits? Of course not! When they get splashed by the sports drink, I’m already imagining them in the outfit, but…”
“Don’t say that out loud, you big idiot!”
Kirisa was forced to shout while keeping her voice down, so she looked really exhausted.
After saying that, she sternly stared at me.
“…I got it okay. I don’t care anymore, just do whatever you want. Hitting on girls like that, drawing revealing illustrations, you can do it until you die for all I care.”
“Like I said, I’m not hitting on girls…also, don’t get so mad at such a small thing.”
Kirisa’s face turned red, as she stood up holding a toothbrush in one hand, and stormed out of the classroom.
“…If you continue to do that, you’ll definitely encounter something bad.”
And with that sharp remark, she left me behind.
“They’re at it again, huh.”
“Don’t mind it. This happens all the time, after all.”
…I could feel the stares I was getting from the people all around me who had gathered into groups for lunch. “You again…” and other similar things were being said, especially from those who were in the same class as us last year.
At this point in time, Kirisa and I have had many good times together, but also had many conflicts.
Just now was definitely an example of the latter. As I picked up my pen again, I thought about the hundreds of times that I’ve reflected on whether I had teased her too much–in short, I didn’t really feel remorseful.
“You made Yamashiro angry again, huh.”
“Is that your strategy?”
“And, you’re drawing something again today.”
I have to return to my line art now.
Now, instead of Kirisa, the boys were making noise.
“This guy is always calm, for him to show emotions occasionally like this is like a bug.”
“No, no, he’s always calm with us.”
“You’re gonna make Atori angry.”
“Plus, this has continued since year 1.”
“They call each other by their first name, so it’s kinda like that, right?”
…From my experience of dealing with such comments, the best thing to do was to just ignore them.
And that’s exactly what I did. I just kept quiet and continued to face my tablet. Not wanting to acknowledge them, I used all my strength to suppress the rising urge in me to refute them, as trying to will only add more fuel to the fire. Why do both choices lead to despair? How boring…
“Oh yeah, Atori also has 2 beauties sitting on both sides of him. On his right is Yamashiro, and on the other side, along the windows…”
At this moment.
A girl entered the classroom from the back and walked towards us. With her entrance, the guys who were making those comments just now all stopped.
She gave off a faint citrus scent, and a refreshing aura that enveloped us as she drew closer and passed by us.
It was as if she purified everything in her wake, turning it into sacred ground that no one could enter. The boys around her fell dead silent, and everyone in the classroom, including the girls in front who were having their lunch turned to face her, every single action of hers etched into their minds.
The girl that sat on the seat right at the back, along the windows, to my left.
Her name was Umigase Kamio.
We were in different classes last year, so we didn’t have anything to talk about in school. As far as I could remember, besides the both of us being part of the “going home club”, my reason being the artworks I had to finish as an illustrator, we had nothing else in common.
But, even someone like me has heard about her insanely high specs. She’s only sat beside me for a while, but I already understood the violent charm she held.
A small, delicate face. A good style that every girl would be envious of. Her black hair in the shape of a long bob gave off a deep lustre as if coated in ink, and she had a pair of beautiful big eyes and double eyelids. She had such sharp features and a well-proportioned face that just calling her an unrivalled beauty was an understatement, and seemed pointless anyway.
Her other hidden abilities were also all generally really good. I heard she received high praise from the teachers for getting top 100 in 5 subjects for the winter mock exams. She also participated in various events for the sports festival last year, and swiped first place in all of them, gleaming under the individual MVP award in the end. If that wasn’t outstanding enough, she could also play the piano. Under the teacher’s request, she plays the musical accompaniment for morning assembly, and does a lot more.
On top of that, her speaking ability was off the charts–
No, somehow, that part was a mystery to me. She only spoke when she was required, outside of that, she didn’t really speak to anyone in particular. She would just stay at her seat and listen to music while playing around with her phone. If I were to describe her character, she’d be one of those cool and aloof types.
That being said, that trait fit perfectly with that sort of invisible feeling that she gave off, as if she was thinking “People see me as cool and beautiful, huh…” and just carried on.
Everyone acknowledges her as an unattainable prize.
That was the perfect term to describe Umigase Kamio.
After Umigase returned to her seat, she covered her ears with her headphones.
“Shit, if only my luck was this good.”
“I don’t think we’ll be changing our seats anytime soon…”
“Yeah, but seriously, Umigase looks so cute.”
“I wonder what she’s listening to”
“I hope it’s some minor key Japanese music.”
“Oh yeah. I can totally see that happening.”
“I wonder if I could be her boyfriend.”
“If she had a boyfriend, I’m sure he’d be some normie but looks good, has good enough grades to become a doctor, and his interests would be stuff like bouldering.”
Fortunately, she probably couldn’t hear them, as the boys began to openly express their thoughts about her.
Being influenced by such comments, I ended up sneaking a glance at her too.
She let out a small yawn, as she rested her chin in her hands and faced the window. As part of her routine, she was listening to music again today. A spotted seal plushie peeked out from her bag. If I remember correctly, it was supposed to be a pencil case. She slowly took out a piece of gummy from the pack of gummies under her desk and put it into her mouth–isn’t that piece a little too big?
Every little action she did, no matter how small, was treated as something special by the people around her. She was kind of like a natural-born model? Not that I would know, but she looks like she could actually have done model work.
“–Right? By the way, which side are you on, Atori? Yamashiro or Umigase-san?”
As I was watching Umigase Kamio, one of the guys suddenly asked me which faction I belonged to.
…I didn’t hear what they were saying just now, so I didn’t know what kind of conversation they had that led to this.
But, I’ll just say this. Actually, deep down inside, this is just like the kinoko-takenoko debate**, both of them are just as good. If this was my favourite erog-…I mean “All-ages dating simulator game”, I would pour out my blood, sweat and tears worrying over who the best girl is…but this is real life you know? Real feelings of love are different from fiction, you never know what’s going to happen, it could be full of passion one day and turn cold the next(I’m biassed). All these people here aren’t choosing based on the connection they feel with them, but on how well their figure fits them(I’m definitely biassed). This sucks, I’ll just give a random answer.
**TL note: The kinoko-tabenoko debate is a famous debate in Japan amongst 2 variations of a chocolate biscuit snack, the kinoko and the take no ko. It has a long history, iykyk(btw I’m on the take no ko side).
“…Well, I guess, Kirisa.”
“She has a similar hairstyle and disposition as the main heroine of the anime series I really like this season.”
“Yeah, clumsy, big-breasted, classic tsundere girls are a pretty popular trope. If I went down one dimension, I’d love to be sandwiched by those thighs.”
“You didn’t have to explain yourself, we get it…in the end, it’s just about boobs, isn’t it.”
“…Oh right, Atori’s an otaku and 2D specialist.”
“Oh, really? That’s unexpected of him.”
Just like hot water in the bath cooling down, the tension in the air was released, as the boys began to accept my view without asking further. At least I managed to satisfy them. Somehow, making light of it allowed me to get through this situation.
“Even though Atori looks good, he says some pretty wild stuff.”
“So weird… no, more like a pervert. He’s always drawing away, and plus it seems like he’s one of those people who doesn’t draw the face.”
“Like one of those masterpieces that’s actually the result of an accident.”
“What a trap.”
“Plus, even when we didn’t ask, like just now, he starts rambling about his otaku stuff.”
“You guys hating on me or something?”
Even though I finally got them to shut up, they had the nerve to continue rubbing salt into the wound and attack me like that. Plus, I didn’t draw the face only because I didn’t want you guys to find out about my art style. I was doing you guys a favour.
“Yeah yeah, what is it no–”
I thought someone was saying something stupid about me again, so I instantly gave a rough response.
But I realised as soon as I began to open my mouth.
The voice that had washed over me wasn’t from the boys.
It was from Umigase Kamio.
Her voice resounded clearly, resembling the murmur of a clear stream. That pleasant voice pierced through me, and I recognised that the familiar greeting wasn’t just by chance.
Umigase, who was previously fixated on the shredded clouds and blue sky, somehow thought of something and turned towards me. Her striking eyes seemed to take everything in, perfectly reflecting my image in them.
Both my voice and manner quivered, but Umigase remained calm from beginning to end. As she took her headphones off and rested them on her neck, she took a gummy from the pack and tossed it to me.
After that, she gave me a slight, sweet smile.
“Yeah, nice catch–take that as a little apology from me.”
“Wh-what are you apologising for?”
“Hmm…I wonder too.”
After uttering something so mysterious, Umigase put on her headphones again, and like a moody cat that suddenly got mad, she turned towards the window again. This also made it hard for me to press her to explain herself.
“That smile has to be illegal, it’s too cute…”
“No, the one that is committing a crime is this guy.”
The boys started to become noisy like a chain effect, but I wasn’t processing anything they said. I could only feel my heart rate increasing, and I was trying to keep it under control now.
Of course, it was due to me talking with Umigase, but that kind of exposes me as someone who follows the crowd.
The exchange we had just now was really short, so short it didn’t even last a single frame, but in that moment, I’m sure Umigase got a glimpse of what was on my tablet.
…Calm down. No matter what, there’s no way she could have found out who I was drawing, and who I was using as reference in that short moment. Passing that gummy to me with no clear reason, if you think about it, doesn’t it kind of mean that she lets her guard down around me? It’ll be fine if I firmly accept this gummy, right? After all, I’m sure Umigase was a little interested, seeing as how she peeked at my tablet, she could only be thinking about that.
…That being said, it’ll be kind of embarrassing to continue drawing right now.
I quickly tried to hide my tablet under my desk, feeling extremely awkward.
I really wanted to continue working on my art, though. I’ll just continue at home, I guess.
“Please, Atori-kun, I’ll treat you to anything in the cafeteria, just tell me Umigase’s number!”
“…Arghh, you guys are so noisy! Plus, I don’t even know her contact number.”
The person you guys are talking about is right next to me, she is literally hearing all of this. This kind of thing should be done of your own accord!
Feeling annoyed, I turned my attention to the gummy I received from Umigase instead.
It was a piece of gummy, but it had the shape of a hot dog.
It was also strangely big, and had quite the presence.
What on earth is this supposed to mean?
Atelier’s aesthetic. In order to reach that “Legendary artist” level, one must discipline himself and practise daily.
Therefore, I finished up my illustration that night and posted it on my Tmitter.
Today’s main post was a succubus with bluish lob hair. She had a pair of black wings at the back, a tattoo just underneath her belly button, and a tail with a heart-shaped tip sticking out from around the sacrum, just like a regular succubus.
The setting was in a classroom at night, with her wearing a blue micro bikini, clutching her knees as she sat on the seat next to the windows. Her expression was that of a trance, as if she had already entered someone’s dream, with upturned eyes that sent a bewitching gaze.
Objectively speaking, it was a beautiful, high quality art piece. The whole piece had a blue colour tone, making it have a cool feel and bringing out the cute features of this anonymous character. Furthermore, the bikini helps build up the eroticness surrounding the chest, belly and groin area. It’s so overloaded with character attributes that it becomes chaotic, but it somehow makes use of it to create the perfect balance, enhancing the artwork.
…Ah this is really too good. Who on earth drew this godly artwork? –Eh, it’s me!
Let me just say this. This piece is one of the best works I’ve produced and what’s more, something that is deemed worthy by the Legendary Atelier.
Yeah. The design model really makes a difference after all. My artworks have definitely been on a roll recently. You can clearly see from the number of likes Atelier has been getting, and above that, I’ve also been more satisfied with my work. The fact that I’ve been making such wonderful works of art makes me really happy…
Well, that’s basically the situation now.
I have all my most attractive posts pinned on my profile page, and I would like the comments under the post, and within an hour, those who had commented would also end up liking the post too. It’s both an easy response and an effective way to get new fans. Not only that, it also gives the fans a feeling that they are being noticed by me. Okay, let’s do another good artwork tomorrow, I guess.
I do have one concern though, or rather, my conscience kind of pricks me.
I’ll just say this–the model for this girl that I drew is Umigase Kamio.
How I could explain Umigase features and figure so well was only because I looked at her occasionally, in order to get ideas from her style.
Also, I don’t know how this happened but–unlike the other girls, I didn’t make a deal with Umigase. “Could I use a part of your figure for reference for my artworks?” I haven’t got her approval for anything like that. I was doing this without any permission at all.
It’s just the result of the change of seats after the opening ceremony. When I saw the girl that sat beside me, I was surprised, and I suddenly felt like drawing then, but I couldn’t bring myself to ask her and so I just continued on with drawing her…until I eventually completed it, that’s how this all began.
That’s why I suddenly panicked when she spoke to me during lunch today. I was scared that the feelings of guilt I felt towards her would be exposed.
…Wait, is this?
It’s kind of sudden, but isn’t this a pretty creepy thing to do? Kind of like a creepy stalker, no? It wouldn’t be strange if I got killed over this, that kind of thing right?
Of course, there are a lot of girls with a lob haircut, and I could always claim that my works don’t reflect real life. If I retorted with something like “2D is separate from 3D, stop trying to put the blame on me!” I could probably make it out.
Of course, that situation wouldn’t even happen in the first place, if they even found out about my intention to use Umigase as my model, that would be the end of me, I don’t even have to think about it…
Let’s change the topic.
There’s no point saying so much after posting it already, in the first place, I don’t think Umigase knows that I do this kind of thing anyway.
That’s right. Even if I have more than 800000 followers on Tmitter, compared to the whole of Japan, it’s still less than 1 percent of the population. There’s no point thinking about it, as it was an unfounded worry to begin with. It’s okay, relax–
I tried to convince myself, as I took a sip of my coffee from my tumbler and turned off my PC and monitor. It’s about time to take a bath.
“–If I do that again, I might just be in for a world of pain.”
You’ll see one day. You’ll definitely encounter something bad. Definitely…
I suddenly remembered Kirisa’s words from noon.
…But, a world of pain, huh. Well, it’s true that my behaviour would probably cause that to happen, but that surely wouldn’t happen now. This time, there’s no way I’m going to be found out. This is definitely a crime. No, it isn’t a crime. If this crime has a name, then I’m sorry.
For now, I’ll continue to experiment with these design models, until I get bored–.
“Please remember to take all your belongings when alighting…”
The announcement on the train woke me up from my nap.
It was morning. It seems like I spent so much time thinking about various things that before I knew it, my eyes began to close and I dozed off. Because of that, I had a dream of the things that happened a week ago, which I did not want to be reminded of–looking at the display board in the train, I realised the station that I had to get off at was really close. That was close. If I had slept a bit more, I would have missed my stop.
…I wonder if it was worth the dazzling recollection.
Why I had to be called out at such an ungodly timing, is something I still can’t understand.
I took out my phone from my blazer chest pocket and checked the time.
It was 6:45 in the morning. I might just be able to meet the time as directed by that “Kamio” person.
I took that chance to also open my Tmitter, and checked the enshrined DM request for me to be a “mother”. I heaved a sigh of despair, as I stared at the blue haired succubus that was pinned on my Tmitter page.
If this girl actually realised that the model for this artwork couldn’t be anyone else but Umigase…
I should probably prepare myself for a world of pain.