📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.

V1 – V no Gawa no Ura Gawa Chapter 3

Yamashiro Kirisa Won't Refuse

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NOVEL WISHES


【#3】 Yamashiro Kirisa Won’t Refuse

The process of creating a VTuber avatar can be broadly divided into three stages.

First, conceptualizing the character, then an illustrator designs the character, and finally, a modeler works on making the avatar move naturally—in this case, modeling it to move as a 2D character. Only after clearing these stages, can one say they are at the starting line.

However, here lies a problem.

I can’t do modeling. I’m too busy with pure illustration work to study such things, I can’t handle physical computations, and I’m clueless about dealing with XYZ axes.

Therefore, scouting a third party who can model is essential to complete the shell, and more importantly, this third party must be someone trustworthy.

After all, I’m the character designer. I’m the mother.

How could I possibly hand over my beloved daughter to some unknown person?

“─And that’s why I became Umigase’s mother,” I declared.

This was after school on the same day I accepted Umigase’s job.

In a Japanese-style café, located about a fifteen-minute walk from Hinata High, sat I, Umigase, and one more person.

She had smoothly flowing beige long hair and amber-colored eyes. A straight nose and fine skin. Her appearance exuded a soft feminine aura and in many ways, a mature demeanor.

Perhaps because of this, she, like Umigase, was often favored by the boys and, combined with her interpersonal skills, was also popular among the girls.

The earnest, high-spec high school girl─Yamashiro Kirisa sat before me.

“Just to clarify, summarize the main points again.”

Having listened to my story, Kirisa’s expression was a mix of clarity and skepticism.

“So, you inadvertently became a life drawing model, and other careless actions led to Atori’s identity being exposed, which then led to you having no choice but to accept Umigase-san’s request to design a VTuber character─Is that right?”

“That’s about the gist of it.”

“…Mother. You became Umigase-san’s mother, huh…”

After summarizing the situation, Kirisa took a sip of her hojicha latte. Her movements were graceful. I could only silently watch.

“Chikage. I hereby ban the act of using girls as life drawing models, effective immediately.”

Well, that was the expected verdict. I knew it… I knew it all along…

“Regardless of what happened before, I can’t overlook the Umigase case. You did it without permission, right?… Please. I don’t want to see Chikage hated by the entire school.”

Perhaps being scolded harshly would have been better. The emotion dwelling in Kirisa’s eyes wasn’t anger, but something more sorrowful. I’m sorry. I should apologize.

“Yeah. I think I should be more careful too. Being alone can be tough, you know?”

Even Umigase looked at me with such a pitiful and sad gaze… It only adds to the gravity of the situation!

“…But, I’m surprised. Yamashiro-san, you knew Atori-kun was Atelier-sensei?”

Afterward, Umigase casually, yet rightly, touched upon that point.

─Don’t worry, let me talk to Kirisa about the VTuber matter.

I had only conveyed that much to Umigase, and practically brought her here against her will, so by now, she seemed to want an answer to this situation. Having listened to my exchange with Kirisa, Umigase actively joined the conversation.

“So, knowing that, you’re close?””Sort of, yeah.””Hmm.”

“……””……”

The conversation stalled. The steam from the three beverages briefly entered our line of sight before disappearing.

“Come on, don’t be silent! Young folks, get along a little better, will ya?”

“We’re not in a matchmaking session. Besides, if you’re going to say that, Chikage, keep the conversation going.”

“Alright. How about we discuss whether there really are otaku-friendly gals as a casual chat topic…”

“Sorry, Chikage, just be quiet.”

“Make up your mind!”

…Though, I too thought it would be difficult to suddenly break the ice.

Kirisa and I were in the same class last year, which meant, as far as I knew, Kirisa and Umigase hadn’t had much to do with each other either. Perhaps that’s why there was an interview-like tension in the air the whole time.

“It doesn’t feel like ‘sort of’ to me. Could it be a special relationship?”

“Maybe partially, it could be,” Kirisa replied.

“Akineー○ー, huh?”

“Ignore him,” Kirisa said, crossing her arms and not responding to my interjection.

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but can you stop using the term ‘God-tier artist’? Like ‘IQ 200’ or ‘Theoretically strongest’, it sounds too strong and childish.”

I mean, it’s fine, isn’t it? I’m working hard enough to justify it. Kirisa should understand that.

“Well, I get why Chikage is motivated… So? There must be a reason you called me here, right?”

Crossing her arms, Kirisa looked resigned but still encouraged me to speak.

Kirisa is smart and has good intuition. She must already sense that being called here wasn’t just for a casual chat and is thinking about what she should do, just like I was on the rooftop this morning.

That’s why─I believe Kirisa will calmly accept what I’m about to ask.

“Kirisa, no, ‘Kiri-hime’─I’d like you to handle the modeling for this case.”

“…I figured it would come to this.”

“……………Eh?”

I think Umigase, who was listening beside us, was more surprised than Kirisa, who was addressed.

It’s understandable. After all, she had just been suddenly introduced to an illustrator famous at the level of Atelier, without any prior indication.

◆ Kiri-hime is a Japanese illustrator and VTuber. Born on April 5, from Yamagata Prefecture. Her notable works include the Japanese-style romantic comedy light novel “Meitou Renkyaku” and the otherworldly RPG “Lyrica Magisa.” Recently, she has been actively involved in the VTuber business, not only designing characters like VTuber “Sirius・Love Beryl・Poppin” but also working as a VTuber herself. Her favorite food is ramen, and she supports VTuber Sirius-chan, mentioned earlier.

Umigase’s hands, which were busy searching about Kiri-hime on her smartphone, finally stopped.

“Yamashiro-san is, that, Kiri-hime-san?”

“Yeah. If you know Atelier, you’d be familiar with other famous illustrators, right?”

“Y-Yes. I knew she was doing VTubing and I’ve seen Kiri-hime-sensei’s illustrations on Pixiv rankings many times… but, really?”

Umigase seemed confused, blinking rapidly.

“…Give me a moment.”

But after Kirisa casually took out a loose-leaf and a pencil and finished drawing an illustration in about three minutes, complete with Kiri-hime’s signature in the lower right corner, Umigase’s doubts seemed to be dispelled.

“It’s real. This delicate style, the careful shadowing… and above all, how fast she draws.”

“I could do that too if I tried.”

“Why are you competing… So? Is there anything else you want me to prove? Any requests?”

“N-No, that’s enough, I believe you… But, hey, Atori-kun!”

Umigase, perhaps out of sheer surprise, leaned in close to me.

“You shouldn’t reveal Kiri-hime-san’s identity! And, doesn’t Yamashiro-san get angry?”

“Why should I?”

“Because, that… You don’t know yet if you can trust me, right?”

“Such a logical argument, but then what about Atelier?”

“Atelier-sensei is different, it’s unavoidable. It’s a minimal sacrifice for the plan.”

What’s with that trolley problem logic… In my case, I used her as a model without permission, so it’s hard to complain. So, I guess it can’t be helped?

“That’s fine. Kirisa and I have a mutual assistance relationship.”

“…A promise?”

“We agreed to help each other if we ever had problems or difficulties. Atelier and Kiri-hime, that’s our relationship. So, if you look at it that way, it’s kind of special.”

Receiving a “Right?” look from her, I silently nodded once in agreement.

The presence of two illustrators here who are commercially active from high school is truly rare. At least among the people Atelier follows on Twitter, Kiri-hime was the only one, and I had seen only a handful like her in my nearly five years of activity.

…Maybe that’s why.

When Kirisa directly proposed mutual support, I readily accepted.

I already knew Kiri-hime was trustworthy from our interactions, and I had been feeling the limits of handling everything alone.

“Sharing information about reliable and unreliable work sources, consulting on which accounting firm to entrust tax matters, advice from a third party when there’s trouble online… When I start thinking about how helpful our cooperation has been, it’s endless.”

“…Looking back, it feels like we’ve covered almost all the troublesome issues illustrators face together.”

“Y-Yeah… From the old ‘Atelier gets a listening device in his Comiket gift’ incident to the recent ‘Kiri-hime takes legal action against persistent haters’ incident… Sigh.”

“Hey. What happened with those two incidents?”

“The former resulted in a policy where I return anything other than consumables like plasters and tapes, and the latter ended in a settlement after a lot of trouble… Why do you ask?”

“S-So that’s what happened. It must have been tough, dealing with all that.”

“Yeah, well…”,”Yes, indeed…”

Both Kirisa and I were visibly drained. We even harmonized in our sighs at the end. Where there’s light, there’s always shadow. A completely bright and clean world doesn’t exist anywhere…

“When did you two start this kind of relationship?”

In contrast to our downtrodden spirits, Umigase maintained a flat attitude, continuing to probe into what she was curious about.

“We started interacting about a year after Atelier began his activities, so… four years ago? But we only formed the cooperation and met in real life about a year ago.”

I was really surprised at that time. I showed up at a publisher’s gathering and found a girl from my class there, and she was Kiri-hime… Her voice over calls and her usual voice were so different, I didn’t make the connection at all. No wonder she could be a VTuber.

“…I see. Then, okay, I understand.”

Umigase had been continually asking about our relationship, but it seemed she had come to accept, if not completely understand, our situation.

“Sorry for asking so persistently. So, really the last question─why ask Kiri-hime-sensei for modeling? And, can she really do it?”

It seemed she hadn’t researched that far, so I explained on behalf of Kirisa.

“She can. Kiri-hime handles everything from her character design to modeling and even does modeling for other VTubers she’s designed. The name is─””Sirius-chan.”

Without being asked, Kirisa interjected.

Since the name came up, I searched for Sirius-chan’s NowTube channel and other related content on my phone and played one of her most recent archives.

…I had thoughts about the archive being created just six hours ago, but I quickly pushed them aside.

That’s irrelevant now.

“When the curtain of darkness falls─When the cybernetic blood flows─Welcome to my Galaxy. I am Sirius・Love Beryl・Poppin, the blood-sucking princess who reads the stars!”

“Did she always greet like this?”

“She thought of it recently. It’s cute, isn’t it?”

Hearing Sirius-chan’s voice for a moment, but without further dwelling on the stream content or the chuuni-esque introduction, I directed Umigase’s attention to the moving image of Sirius-chan herself─focusing on the avatar’s movement.

“The modeling is done, and you can see its quality. This Sirius-chan, as well as Kiri-hime’s own Live2D movements, are natural and smooth, not falling behind even corporate players.”

“Eh… Did Yamashiro-san do all this alone?”

“Well, it’s mostly an extension of a hobby for me.”

“No, no, that’s not something you can just say lightly, it’s incredible!”

“Glad you appreciate it.”

“※I plan to outsource the modeling to someone found on the internet.”

That part in Umigase’s project plan was the only thing I couldn’t accept.

I may not have specialized knowledge about modeling, but I knew enough to understand that it shouldn’t be left to just anyone. I didn’t want to compromise on quality since I decided to be involved, so inviting Kirisa, who already had two wonderful portfolios with Kiri-hime and Sirius-chan, was the obvious choice.

“And, Kiri-hime is our senior in what we’re trying to do, so that’s another reason to ask for her help. She’s quite popular among individual VTubers.”

In essence, the plan is to ride on Kiri-hime’s popularity and learn the know-how of becoming popular.

“You wrote in your project plan that your target is 100,000 channel subscribers, right? That ambition is commendable, and I too want you to become popular. It will undoubtedly benefit Atelier’s activities in the future.”

The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that Kiri-hime was precisely the person we needed right now.

…The only and biggest issue was whether Kiri-hime would agree to help us. That was the crux of the matter.

“Could you please help us out? Of course, I’ll prepare a proper reward, and just like before, I’ll help Kirisa whenever she needs it. It’s a bother, but I’m asking you.”

Unlike on the rooftop, this time I bowed deeply while still seated.

“…You do realize you’re taking advantage of my kindness, right?”

“Yes. I’ll definitely repay the favor, and I’ll prepare a proper reward.”

“Then, you’ll really help me the next time I’m in trouble?”

“I intend to do my utmost, as always.”

“…And you promise not to ask other girls to be your life drawing models?”

“I can promise not to randomly approach girls for that.”

I’m not lying. In Umigase’s case, she approached me first.

After a moment of silence, I slightly lifted my head to gauge the situation.

Kirisa looked somewhat exasperated, yet, perhaps it was just my imagination, but she didn’t seem too displeased.

With that expression, alternating her gaze between me and Umigase, Kirisa said…

“…I guess I have no choice, after all.”

She gave me the same response I had heard countless times before in our dealings.

Honestly, I had expected that if I asked seriously, Kirisa would agree to help. Not only because of our cooperative relationship but also because Kirisa, being as meddlesome as she is, would likely give a favorable response. I can’t say there wasn’t a bit of calculation in my approach.

…She’s really a good person, truly. I won’t say it out loud because it’s embarrassing.

“Thank you, really… Come on, Umigase, you should thank her too.”

It might have been presumptuous since I decided on my own, but this was an unavoidable part of moving the project forward. Umigase had to accept it.

“…Um, well, thank you, Yamashiro-san.”

“Yes, you’re welcome.”

A handshake might have concluded the matter.

“…But before that,” Kirisa seemed to have something she urgently needed to confirm.

“You’re serious about wanting to be a VTuber, right?”

“Yes. If I weren’t serious, I wouldn’t have approached Atelier-sensei directly.”

“…Right. If you weren’t serious, you’d be out of your mind.”

Kirisa touched her forehead and closed her eyes, seemingly contemplating. Considering how risky and even reckless Umigase’s actions were, hadn’t she thought of the possibility of being threatened? Like, I’ll reveal that you’re a VTuber! Such a scenario was entirely possible.

“But are you prepared? It’s not all fun, you know? There will be infuriating and exasperating things too.”

“Like what, for example?”

“Well, off the top of my head… finding really nasty stuff written about you on Twitter, comments filled with complaints, dislikes, or even excessive sexual harassment, but…”

“Why are you looking at me? Let me clarify, I don’t bring up lewd or insider jokes with people I’m not close with or just met, okay? Knowing your audience is crucial.”

“But Atori-kun, you talked about succubi to me, and we’d barely met.”

“That was an exception for Umigase, no takebacks.”

“Anyway! Can you ignore such noise and deal with it?”

Kirisa seemed frustrated but resigned to the reality of the situation.

The reality of her words hit hard because they were based on actual experiences. It’s not just a problem for VTubers, but for illustrators too.

Facing a vast, unspecified audience inevitably brings these issues, leading to attacks from unexpected directions. You might encounter maliciousness too harsh even to be dismissed as the price of fame.

And if something like that happens, people with strong mental fortitude like Kirisa and me ─ or rather, those who have become numb due to too much exposure to such cases ─ might be able to deal with it methodically. But what about Umigase in such a situation?

Kirisa was probably worried about her.

“And… why do you want to be a VTuber?”

Kirisa was picking up all the questions I should’ve asked or missed asking.

If Umigase simply wanted popularity and adoration, face-to-face streaming would be a quicker route.

On streaming sites, there’s always demand for people who stand out in some way.

Whether it’s people who are intelligent, funny, have sharp or edgy behaviors, or even those who might be considered failures by societal standards, they can shine in live broadcasts.

And of course, a high school girl like Umigase, blessed with good looks, would easily surpass 100,000 subscribers just by appearing on screen.

…Of course, I understand the complications with privacy and internet literacy.

So, what’s the need to go through a character? That was the question.

“If you’re doing it for money, it won’t be easy. And… if it’s Umigase, you could have chosen to be a model or something.”

“Yeah, indeed. If she pitched herself to an acting agency…”

“Sorry, Chikage, be quiet for a bit.”

She reprimanded me seriously… Was my interjection that off-topic?

“It’s not about the money. I like anime and manga, and I want to try streaming as a character from that world. I’m interested in that, so I want to be a VTuber. Is that not enough?”

A transformation desire. Is it similar to wishing to be something else in the next life?

I understand that. If I could be reborn, I’d want to be an incredibly cute two-dimensional girl ─ I even wrote that in a school essay in elementary school… My teacher was speechless, and I still don’t understand why. It would definitely be more fun, right?

“…It’s not a bad reason.”

“Right. Maybe Yamashiro-san has a similar desire, that’s why she’s a VTuber?”

Kirisa seemed to resonate with that, and the conversation, which had been flowing smoothly, came to a halt.

“Ah, or do you still find it hard to believe that I want to be a VTuber? Do you think it’s not like me?”

Her tone was more like questioning than asking. I could understand both Kirisa’s disbelief and Umigase’s eagerness to convince her, but that made it harder for me to interject easily.

“…No. If Umigase wants to do it and accepts all the troublesome parts, I have nothing to say. I have no complaints about that.”

“Okay. Then I’ll do it.”

The two still seemed unsure, struggling to gauge the distance between them.

And it seemed Kirisa still had more to address.

“So, that’s settled. But one more thing─Umigase, aren’t you a bit too close to Chikage?”

Caught off guard by the sudden change of topic, or perhaps because it wasn’t about VTubing, Umigase looked confused.

“…Really? Isn’t this normal?”

“No, it’s not. For a four-seater table with one boy and two girls, normally the girls would sit together, right? But instead…”

Prompted by her words, I naturally looked at Umigase sitting beside me.

Our eyes met. She seemed to be asking, “Is this something to worry about?”

In reality, it’s a trivial matter, but Kirisa, with her moral committee-like temperament and her usual scrutiny of my actions, might find it noteworthy.

“Ah… I didn’t mention it before, but you know, I’m a fan of Atelier-sensei.”

“Really? And?”

“Maybe that’s why. Maybe Yamashiro-san wants to be near the person she admires.”

“I’m the type who prefers to keep a distance from my favorite people or those I admire. I can’t relate at all.”

Kirisa’s tone, though not harsh, was notably sharp.

“Let me make it clear, Atelier – Chikage is not a great person. He’s a pervert who only thinks about drawing erotic illustrations, a hopeless person. The only praiseworthy thing about him is maybe that he’s somewhat handsome.”

“What, stop insulting me indirectly.”

And she’s saying the same thing as Umigase, wait, are all of you bots? Or is that really the only good thing about me? I can draw landscapes too, you know.

“…Hey. It’s not good to judge someone based on impressions alone. Yamashiro-san might not know some good sides of Atori-kun.”

For some reason, Umigase also looked dissatisfied, and I almost saw sparks flying between the two. But her way of saying it implied that there might be no good points. Are you trying to finish me off?

“It’s not a judgment, but a conclusion based on accumulated experiences. I’ve been troubled by Chikage and also helped by him. Only I can assert this because of these experiences.”

“…Because it’s you, huh.”

Umigase tilted her head slightly and then seemed to realize something, exclaiming “Ah.”

“Are you jealous? If so, don’t worry. I’m not into that.”

“What? Jealous of what? How did you come to that conclusion from this conversation?”

“Because you were blatantly putting down Atori-kun. If you belittle Atori-kun, it’ll keep the bad bugs away – mmph!”

Kirisa stood up immediately and stuffed a wet towel into Umigase’s mouth. She also muttered something like, “Why are high school students so sensitive about others’ relationships…?”

“Umigase. I’m also telling you, Kirisa and I are just work colleagues─”

“Chikage, be quiet.”

“Eh…” Kirisa’s glaring expression reminded me of a fierce deity. I intended to support her, but I couldn’t say anything.

“…If you need a model, you should’ve asked someone easier. If you have the courage to approach a girl you hardly know or draw without permission, it would’ve been much easier. We wouldn’t have ended up in this complicated situation!”

Her anger hadn’t subsided, and it seemed like another burst of anger had surfaced. The topic suddenly shifted.

“Who are you talking about specifically?”

“Well, that… the girl sitting next to you…”

“Umigase?””Me.”

“No, me! I’m saying if you’re going to bother a stranger, I would’ve been willing to help! I’m saying I would have done it!”

“…Kirisa? You?”

“What’s with that reaction? Are you dissatisfied with me?”

“No, it’s not that, but how to put it…”

If I had an exclusive contract with Kirisa, I’d inevitably be limited to drawing busty characters, like if curry gets into something, everything after tastes like curry… But then again, the same would happen with Umigase as the exclusive model…

Ah, right. I have to tell Kirisa about Umigase offering to be a life drawing model. I don’t know what she’ll say, but staying silent and having it revealed later seems worse.

“…I wonder. Can Yamashiro-san handle what Atori-kun asks for?”

Just as I remembered the important topic, the two girls also expanded on theirs.

“What do you mean?”

“It’s simple. Being a life drawing model for someone like Atelier-sensei means getting into some outrageous outfits and poses, right? Can you do it, Yamashiro-san?”

“Outrageous outfits, like what?”

“Let’s see… a micro bikini would be beginner level.”

“A micro bikini…”

“And if it’s advanced level, I wonder what would happen. It’s intriguing, right?”

“!!”

Kirisa’s face turned bright red.

Let me say it again: Kirisa is sensitive – especially to topics suggesting eroticism.

If I even hint at a lewd joke, she immediately retorts, and if others discuss such topics, she just gives a polite smile without saying anything. Unlike Atelier, Kiri-hime draws only wholesome pictures, reflecting her personality.

By the way,

“What?””…Nothing.”

I glanced down from Kirisa’s face for a moment, then quickly looked back.

Especially taboo is mentioning Kirisa’s voluptuous body.

Breasts, buttocks, thighs – any talk about these is an instant foul. I think they’re attractive qualities, but she seems to consider them a complex. She told me not to mention them a long time ago, so I didn’t say anything when I thought of it earlier.

…But, honestly, I wish she’d stop crossing her arms. It directs the gaze to her chest. It’s not about my self-control, it’s about the overall composition that draws attention.

“Ah, right. About being Atori-kun’s life drawing model… I decided I’ll do it from now on, so there won’t be any trouble with other girls.”

Umigase assured me with a considerate expression.

“What?” Kirisa, who was unlikely to be reassured by this, was perfect, except for this part.

“I heard you banned it earlier, right? And first of all, who gave you permission to decide something like that?”

“I… I already made a promise. I’ll help in exchange for becoming a model. It’s unfair to just receive favors.”

“…You really are inflexible.”

Kirisa’s face, which had been stern all day, now showed the deepest frown I’d seen.

“Understood. Then let’s discuss this matter between the two of us on the way home… Come on, Umigase-san, let’s go.”

Shaking with fury, Kirisa stood up and pulled Umigase by the hand.

“Eh… You don’t mean we’re going home together, do you?”

“Of course. It’s almost night, and I can’t leave you two alone. Who knows what mistakes might happen?”

“Mistakes? What do you mean by that – ah, sorry, I apologize, don’t pull my arm, and my arm is pressing against Yamashiro-san’s chest, ouch ouch ouch!”

Umigase, who had danced a tap dance on a minefield, was forcibly taken away.

As they left, Kirisa just said, “Thank you for the meal,” and they were gone.

“…It was like a storm.”

I finished off the coffee in my cup and slowly lifted my gaze towards the café ceiling.

I’m exhausted. There have been way too many events lately. If it were a quieter day, I would’ve been back home already, working on my illustrations or sketching character designs. The hustle and bustle is almost intoxicating.

…Looks like it’s going to be like this tomorrow, too.

Just then, I received a notification from a chat tool named D-Discord, informing me that I’d been added to a group called “VTuber Production.” Such swift action. Kirisa must have done it while on her way home. In the members section, I saw three icons: an illustration of a 2D black-haired girl, a character of a spotted seal, and a photo of soy sauce ramen. It was me, Umigase, and Kirisa.

“Chika, I’d love sushi for dinner tonight. Can we order some, please?”

…I also noticed a notification from Lime, another messaging app.

Laid-back as I am, I wondered, if I order now, when will it arrive?

While opening the food delivery app, I browsed through the options at Oke Sushi ──

I live alone in a 1LDK apartment.

Despite being quite affordable, the apartment is relatively new and well-located. I started living here when I entered Hinata High, and I’ve had no complaints so far.

The reason I live alone isn’t because I moved from my parents’ house in Tokyo or because we had a falling out. My family runs a modest beauty salon, and we get along fine. In a nutshell, I moved out to prove that I can make it as an illustrator. I’m getting steady work and saving bit by bit, but there’s no guarantee this will last ten years. In a world where lifetime employment is becoming rare, freelancers like me don’t have that luxury at all.

It’s like an early step towards independence. When I think about it, it makes me feel quite proud of myself. Yeah, I’m doing something commendable just by living.

“People are remarkable simply for living!”

…That reminds me, wasn’t that his favorite saying?

“Wooooo! A grand slam home run! As expected of the veteran, reliable as always!”

As I entered the living room after returning home, I was greeted by the loud mix of the TV broadcast and cheering.

“…Ah. Welcome back, Chika. You’re later than usual today.”

“Yeah. Had some errands to run.”

“Is that so… Oh, I received the sushi delivery for you. Sushi night tonight!”

The person watching the baseball game on the large bead sofa, who had been cheering loudly, trotted over to the dining area upon my arrival.

He’s the epitome of carefree. I don’t really want to nag him, but…

“What? Is there something on my face, Chika?”

“…You overslept and were late for school again, weren’t you?”

“Gulp” – It’s not funny. Despite my repeated warnings, he seems to have overslept again.

“…Objectively speaking, I might be spoiling you too much.”

“Wait, you’re not going to start lecturing me like Kirisa, are you?”

Even if he does, it won’t sink in. Ignoring his response, I declare,

“Perhaps actions speak louder than words with you… like this!”

I was as swift as a gust of wind.

I opened the sushi package on the dining table, immediately spotted the salmon, and without a second thought, began stuffing my favorite pieces into my mouth, one by one, without even dipping them in soy sauce… Delicious, absolutely delicious.

“Noooo! How could you! That’s so cruel!”

“…How does it feel to see your favorite salmon eaten right in front of you? Frustrating? Painful? Remember this feeling and stop oversleeping. Because next time, I’ll take away something even more precious, hahaha!”

“Ughhhh… I can’t recover from this… Why, why is this happening…”

He, Jin’ai, stared down at the Oke Sushi box, from which the salmon had vanished, utterly dejected.

I felt a bit bad seeing him so downcast, but was it really that big of a deal?

Ash gray long hair, emerald eyes, and a petite figure that doesn’t quite seem like that of a high school first-year. His ears are adorned with an excessive number of piercings.

His name is Sai-za Forsyth Jin’ai.

His father is American, and his mother is Japanese. A returnee with mixed roots, Jin’ai has been living as a first-year student at Hinata High along with me, Umigase, and Kirisa since spring.

…What exactly should I call our relationship? Senior and junior? Friends? Landlord and freeloader?

One thing’s for sure, we are neighbors. He lives next door to my room, in 102, and drops by now and then.

Jin’ai is lazy and childish, always whining, oversleeping, and leaving his things in my room. Even the TV showing the baseball game was brought in by him without asking.

And so, he spends his days aimlessly. He lounges around after school, eats dinner with me, and then heads back to his room at night. It’s the same routine every day.

I often wonder if this is really what living alone is about.

I, along with everyone else, have created this spoiled monster by pampering him too much.

“By the way, how did you know I overslept?”

“…Because I saw her.”

To prove my point, I searched for her on my smartphone.

And there she was ─ Kiri-hime, the popular VTuber, Sirius Love Beryl Poppin, designed and modeled by Kirisa.

“Ha. That’s…”

“…When I was looking up Sirius, I also checked her main streaming site. The latest streaming archive was created during school hours today ─ Jin’ai. If streaming is interfering with your studies, you won’t grow up to be a decent person.”

Jin’ai frowned upon hearing my lecture.

“Hmph. In a world full of not-so-great people, I don’t want to hear that. Besides, people are great just for being alive! So Jin’ai, just by living, deserves praise…”

“If this happens again, I might have to ban you from my room.”

“Please, I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Anything but that, I apologize!”

His mood darkened at my ominous words, and he clung tightly to me, looking like he might cry. Annoying as it was, I couldn’t bring myself to be that harsh.

“No use lecturing. Even taking away your favorites or punishing you seems to have little effect, and frankly, it’s too much trouble for me… What should I do with you?”

The real question is, why do I care so much about Jin’ai?

─ The simple answer is, I’ve been asked to look after him by his dad.

It all started when I was looking for a place to live after successfully passing my high school entrance exams.

By chance, I was introduced to a real estate company run by my dad’s acquaintance ─ Jin’ai’s dad. I mentioned that I was an illustrator and why I wanted to live alone, and he offered me this apartment at a discounted rent.

While I wanted to prove my independence, I wasn’t going to turn down an opportunity to save money.

I was approached with an offer, and I genuinely rejoiced, saying “Thank you very much.” On the day of the move, I entered the room with a smile, carrying my belongings and filled with anticipation.

There, nestled among the boxes, was Jin’ai. He was sitting in a corner of the room.

“Due to various circumstances, my daughter, who lived in America, is now going to live alone in Japan. She’s about your age, and I know your father too. More importantly, my daughter is shy. Since you’re living in the next room, could you look after her? Of course, I also plan to check on her regularly, okay?”

After confirming over the phone, I was greeted with a cheerful response, and time passed without any complaints.

Today, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Jin’ai has come to my room again.

This is just one of the troublesome episodes I’ve experienced, and it’s an ongoing problem I’m dealing with. In terms of trouble, I feel it definitely ranks at Tier 1.

Those considering moving in the future should definitely check with the real estate agent in advance.

You should ask if the security deposit will be refunded, and whether you’ll need to babysit.

Dragging along a whining Jin’ai, I moved towards the fridge.

I took out a bottle of water and quenched my thirst in one go. Now, it’s time for a proper dinner.

“…If there’s a reward instead of a punishment, Nia might be able to do her best. For example, if I go to school properly, Chika might play games with me.”

Coming back to the dining table, Jin’ai proposed a strategy from her end.

“Rejected. There’s no time for FPS in the daily schedule of the studio.”

After all, why should I reward her for just doing what’s expected?

“You say such cool things. But you’re just drawing lewd pictures anyway.”

Even so, I haven’t done anything wrong… except for the matter with Umigase.

“When I’m playing rank matches in FPS, I’m with friends online.”

Moreover, she had been enthusiastically reporting it. So, she must be pretty close to them, right?

“…Those friends are just for ranking up in FPS, not real friends. I’ve never played any other games with them… Besides, I’m inviting you because you’re Chika.”

She winked cutely and snuggled up closer. Unlike the time she hugged me on the rooftop, I felt neither flustered nor thrilled. It was an overwhelming sense of nothingness.

“I refuse. Real-life romance is just a hassle, and if I were to get close to someone, I’d prefer a self-reliant, cool woman, not a slothful kid like you.”

“That’s irritating… Just a talented otaku, yet your demands are high. It’s because of people like you that this country’s birth rate never increases.”

“That’s a broad generalization.” And don’t push societal issues onto me.

“…Then you should just make friends at school. There must be plenty of people who play games. You should be able to find someone with similar interests.”

“Ugh.” Jin’ai suddenly clutched her chest, showing signs of discomfort. Good, she finally let go.

“It’s hard and embarrassing to start relationships from scratch… It seems like groups have already formed…”

“That’s your fault for focusing on streaming instead of going to school. You brought it upon yourself.”

“Ugh, shut up! I don’t want to hear your rational arguments!”

This girl… she’s just too hopeless…

“That’s it! If you really want me to make friends, then bring someone. Someone who shares my hobbies, spoils me, and likes me unconditionally. Please find such a person!”

“I can’t believe you had the nerve to complain to me.”

“And if they’re a Vtuber, we could do a collab stream. That would be awesome!”

“Enough already!”

If I were to give an answer now, to a question asked of no one in particular. The one who has been expressing her emotions in front of me all this time, Jin’ai, is…

The soul of the popular Vtuber, “Sirius・Love Beryl・Poppin.”

“That’s right. Just between us, my daughter’s a Vtuber. You’re an illustrator in the industry, so you might understand, Chikage. So, if anything comes up, count on me!”

When I asked about Jin’ai’s existence over the phone, her dad had carelessly spilled the beans. And since he had also spilled the beans about me to Jin’ai, her first words to me were “So you’re the Atelier guy”… If the rent wasn’t cheap, I’d be seriously angry. The information management is too sloppy.

But really, there are too many Vtubers (including aspiring ones) around me.

And all of them have their quirks… Maybe only Kirisa is normal…

“About the model for drawing… Umigase and I compromised, and it’s not unlimited, just one time. That’s it, I won’t hear any complaints.”

The notification sound of Discord rang, and when I checked, that announcement was specifically written in the chat for Vtuber production.

Kirisa’s stubbornness is quite a quirk too.

📢 Maybe you see "V2" or "V3" and so on in the NOVEL TITLE, it means what VOLUMES the NOVEL is.
V no Gawa no Ura Gawa

V no Gawa no Ura Gawa

V no Gawa no Ura Gawa Vのガワの裏ガワ
Score 8
Status: Ongoing Author: Artist: Released: 2022 Native Language: Japanese
The protagonist, Senkei, is a professional high school illustrator.One day, he is approached by Kurei, a lonely and beautiful girl who asks him to be her “mother”.In this case, “mother” means the character designer of a VTuber.Kurei suddenly strips and shows him her skimpy swimsuit, trying to persuade him…!? Senkei accepts Kurei’s enthusiasm and joins forces with Kirisa, another high school illustrator, and Jinai, a slovenly neighbor and popular VTuber, to launch the VTuber project “Shizunagi Mio”.They all work together to make Kurei a popular VTuber.

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