Volume 5 Chapter 6 92, Heading to the Battlefield
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
”As always, there are so many people…”
Arriving at the Summer Comic Market venue, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people and the energy in the air. There were already long queues forming all around the area. Many circles were offering Aqua-san-related merchandise, sparking fierce competition among the attendees.
This time, companies like Morinaga and Fuji Department Store were also releasing Aqua-san goods, so there seemed to be a lot of people aiming for those. Some people were probably not regular event-goers and came just for this occasion.
I was particularly excited about the Morinaga collaboration, featuring an Aqua-san keychain with Merry-san’s sheep costume. The two-dimensional illustration of Aqua-san was incredibly adorable, and when the information was first revealed, I was already on the verge of fainting.
However, since I couldn’t make it there before, I asked my newly acquainted friend, Miyuki-san, to get it for me. Miyuki-san, a civil servant, is also an Aqua-san fan, and when I told her about the Merry-san version of Aqua-san, her usually cool expression broke, and she started pounding on the table at the izakaya. Yes, I knew we had similar tastes, and it was worth mustering the courage to talk to her.
”Those with Beryl Entertainment booth tickets, please line up here!”
I glanced at the long lines forming at the venue and made my way to the Beryl Entertainment line.
”This is the end of the line. Can I check your ticket just to be sure?”
”Yes, of course.”
The line I joined was exclusively for Beryl Entertainment attendees. Originally, Beryl Entertainment was planning to participate as one of the corporate booths. However, the event organizers generously offered a new exhibition hall to Beryl Entertainment for free.
This unprecedented move might have been related to the fact that the operating company of the venueis Fuji Real Estate, a member of the Fuji Zaibatsu family. Originally, this exhibition hall was supposed to open in the fall, but it was completed ahead of schedule to accommodate Beryl Entertainment’s participation, according to rumors.
As a result of the involvement of a major corporation in the event’s management, safety was a priority, so tickets were distributed through a lottery system. However, I received an invitation ticket from Tama-chan when she was still an individual streamer, and thanks to that, I could attend the event without going through the lottery. Sorry, everyone, I kind of took a shortcut…
”Shiro-kun, I’ve come to see you!”
”Tama-chan, you’re so cute!”
”Let’s take a photo of Shiro-kun and Tama-chan together. Now’s our chance!”
Next to the line, there were two large standing panels with Shiro-kun and Tama-chan waving to visitors. Of course, I took a photo as well. I should send the photo to my friends who are waiting in other lines.
”We’re about to open the venue. Please move slowly towards the entrance, following the person in front of you.”
The moment has come. I followed the person in front of me and slowly made my way to the entrance.
”Everyone, thank you for coming today!”
”Have a great time!”
At the entrance, I heard familiar voices. Shiro-kun and Tama-chan were greeting the visitors from within two large panels mounted on both sides of the entrance. It might have been a pre-recorded video, but for people like us, the effect was outstanding.
”I must endure… I have to endure it.”
”What… is this?”
”I never expected such a wonderful trap at the entrance!”
”Ugh, I want to move forward, but I don’t want to take a step from this spot!”
”Excuse me, is it possible to take home the kid inside that panel?”
The women in the line began to squirm uncomfortably. We haven’t even entered the venue yet. Is Beryl going to kill us? Fortunately, I managed to take out my smartphone and started recording the scene.
”We won the ticket fair and square, there’s no way we’re backing down now!”
”Darn it, Beryl is really coming at us seriously!”
”We have to get inside the building somehow! Once we’re in, everything’s ours!”
”I won’t stop, as long as everyone keeps going, I’ll be right there too! So don’t stop!”
We moved slowly, using a snail-like tactic, inching our way into the building. I never expected them to have such a rushed rush countermeasure from the start. Somehow, we made it into the venue, but Beryl was relentless in its pursuit.
Inside the entrance, there was a massive display with Shiro-kun and Tama-chan dancing to the beat of an upbeat Western song. This song was a popular viral video on the internet from a while back, known for a phrase that sounded like “udon” (Japanese noodles). Recently, it was gaining traction again on the internet due to the same association.
”No way… this can’t be real…”
”I can’t believe they’re actually singing it…”
”The udon is going to sell out again.”
”As someone who works at an udon factory, I can confirm my death.”
”If I were reborn, I’d become udon!”
”Well, actually, it’s more like o-dashi (soup stock) here.”
”Uuhh uuhh uuhh!”
Oh, how adorable they were. Not only were their dance moves great, but their singing was also impressive, making the overall quality high. Ah! …I noticed that the two of them in the video were still sensitive to hot food and burned their tongues on the piping hot udon. Ugh, I wish I were there to blow on the hot udon and feed them… I hate my mortal body!
”It’s so cute when they can’t eat hot things properly.”
”It’s unfair, even though we know it’s just an act, our maternal instincts still react.”
At the bottom right of the display, it stated that this footage was a sneak preview and would be officially released on their channel tonight. Nevertheless, the energy in this waiting line was off the charts. I hope, by any chance, these people are not from the same place I’m from. Just to be safe, I’ll try to give off the vibe that I’m different.
Yes, of course, when it comes to udon, eggplant tempura is a must. The girl next to me seemed to be overwhelmed by the stimulation, as she had a nosebleed, so I quietly handed her a tissue. In times like this, we need to help each other out.
”Eggplants showing up at the tempura section is just too cute!”
”Uuughhh, my brain… my brain… is meltinggg.”
”It’s unfair for the official to use eggplant as a joke!”
”Could it be that Shiro-kun is knowingly doing this?”
”Stop, we’ll end up arguing over different interpretations!”
”Beryl, take it down a notch!”
From behind me, loud screams could be heard. It seemed like someone had been overwhelmed by the welcoming display at the entrance. I’m starting to worry about how many people will make it to the final event.
”Please don’t stop in the entrance area. The right side leads to the exhibition corner, and the left side to the merchandise corner. We have prepared a good amount of merchandise, but it is limited in quantity, so we recommend you purchase early. Thank you!”
The surrounding women murmured quietly about the limited quantities and sales rules at the merchandise corner. Finally, upon the staff’s call, the cluster of people at the entrance began to move. Since this time’s merchandise was Tama-chan’s, Shiro-kun and Aqua-san’s fans headed to the opposite side. As a fan of Tama-chan, I naturally joined the merchandise line.
”Each person is limited to purchasing two items. Please understand!”
Several staff members were stationed at the merchandise counters. Behind them, staff members from the backstage prepared and packed the merchandise. When I reached each counter, there were sample goods displayed, and the staff took my order while preparing the items in the back. This system was likely the best to prevent theft and ensure smooth sales. Tama-chan’s goods included acrylic keychains, waterproof stickers, hand towels, and clear files. I bought two of each, and with my ample savings, I was confident that I could afford it.
”Thank you very much!”
As the staff handed me a tall, Beryl-branded shopper bag, I was taken aback. The bag featured a partially cropped image of Aqua-sama looking sideways. His face wasn’t visible, and this appeared to be an obvious printing mistake. But my naive thinking was instantly blown away by Beryl’s conspiracy.
”Carry the shopper bag on your shoulder and hold it from below with your palm.”
At the exit of the merchandise area, staff members demonstrated how to carry the shopper bag. By putting your hand at the bottom, Aqua-sama’s hand on the bag seemed to be held as if holding hands with a lover. And to make sure people could see it clearly, they placed a large mirror by the exit.
”Ahh, ahh, ahhhh…”
”Ahh… this is too much. Beryl is going all out. This will stay with me forever.”
”As expected from the agency where Aa-sama is affiliated with, they really know how to get to us.”
”My first-ever date with Aqua-kun, I’m about to cry…”
”Oh no… I’m starting to sweat from my palms.”
Some women were shedding tears, while others, concerned about soiling the paper bag, hurriedly put it into a larger bag they had brought along. Thankfully, there was a designated space in the corner of the venue for this purpose, so I also transferred the goods and the paper bag into my large tote bag.
”Phew… for now, this should be fine.”
Leaving the merchandise corner, I headed towards the exhibition area. The first thing that caught my eye there was Aqua-san’s runway outfits, the same ones displayed at the Corolle storefront, and many people were taking photos of them.
”These outfits are amazing… wait, what is this scent?”
Indeed, there was a pleasant fragrance in the air. I followed the crowd towards the mannequin.
”This is the Corolle Homme perfume that Shirogane Aqua-sama wore on the runway. It’s not yet available in this country, but it will be in stock in autumn. Please consider purchasing it.”
The staff member explaining this was different from the others; they were likely dispatched from Corolle. Of course, the outfits were surrounded by tight security guards.
”Eh? So if I wear this perfume and get into bed, it’s practically a se—”
”—A perfume for 40,000 yen, truly worthy of Corolle, they don’t care about our wallets.”
”But if you think about it, it lasts for quite a while, and if you calculate it for each use, it’s not that expensive, right?”
”So that’s why the restroom was crowded earlier…”
As I approached the fenced-off outfits, a warm, sweet scent tickled my nostrils. It combined the elegant and sophisticated fragrance of iris, masculine notes of vetiver and leather, and perhaps some cocoa?
Despite the complex mixture of scents, the fragrance crafted by a top perfumer exuded a gentle and inclusive warmth without clashing.
”Here’s a sample for you. Feel free to take it!”
The Corolle representative handed me a tester of the perfume. Wait, really? Is this free? Despite being just a tester, the venue was buzzing with excitement. I vowed to myself that I would definitely buy it when it’s released and moved on to the next corner. There, mannequins donning Shiro-kun and Tama-chan’s outfits were on display.
”Oh no! Shiro-kun is wearing shorts!”
”I want to rub my cheeks against his bare legs…”
”Actually, both of them are wearing short pants.”
”Tama-chan is just too…”
”Shh! We promised not to talk about that.”
I was deeply moved to see the outfits I had admired from behind the screen right in front of me. As I passed by, I couldn’t resist taking pictures of them. I had to be quick, though, so as not to disturb others.
After the outfit corner, I came across life-sized panels of Aqua-san, Shiro-kun, and Tama-chan, and a photo spot where fans could take commemorative pictures with them. Although I had taken a photo with the real Aqua-san at the café, this experience was entirely different.
”Aqua-sama is so tall…”
”Well, the dic—cough cough.”
”Shiro-kun is about the same height as me; that’s nice.”
I could understand both perspectives. Aqua-sama was a bit taller than me, even with my sneakers on. It felt wonderful, but standing next to Shiro-kun’s cutout, who was slightly shorter than me, also made my heart skip a beat. Passing by that corner, three panels lined up before my eyes. The first one belonged to Tama-chan.
[Thank you for always coming to my streams. I’m nervous about today’s live stage, but… I believe that with all the listeners’ support, I’ll do my best. Oumi Tama.]
Upon seeing the handwritten message and signature beside the panel, the crowd erupted in cheers. I couldn’t help but shout my encouragement to Tama-chan, and other fans joined in.
”Go Tama-chan! We’re always cheering for you!”
”I came here because I wanted to meet Tama-chan!”
”We’ll always be together, so don’t worry!”
As a Tama-chan fan, I felt a strong sense of camaraderie with everyone present. The pawprint mark next to Tama-chan’s signature was also adorable and satisfied my personal preferences. Next to Tama-chan was Shiro-kun’s panel.
[I’m really looking forward to today’s debut stage. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited. I can’t wait to sing and dance in front of everyone. Just a little longer, so wait for me! *Hoshimiya Shiro*]
The crowd erupted in loud cheers near his panel.
”Shiro-kun! We’ve been waiting for you!”
”Come and see us soon!”
”We couldn’t sleep either!”
”He’s too cute, like before a school trip!”
”Oh no, now I can’t just be an Aa-sama fan; I’m falling for Shiro-kun too.”
”What’s that thing in the lower right corner? Is it some kind of curse?”
”LOL, the drawing master strikes again!”
At the bottom of the message, something mysterious was written. Upon closer inspection, it appeared to be a star mark with an arrow next to it.
”Is this the star mark?”
”He can’t even draw a star properly; this is way beyond my expectations.”
”I thought it was going to be some kind of anu—cough, cough.”
”Shiro-kun’s prince-like charm and Aqua-sama’s gap are incredible.”
”But that’s what makes him charming. The closeness in distance is why I might prefer him over Aqua-sama.”
”I understand that. Even with Aqua-sama’s life-sized panel earlier, I couldn’t handle it due to my social anxiety. It’s impossible for me to interact with someone in person. He’s so cool even on a signboard; it’s unfair. But with Shiro-kun’s cute image, I might be able to manage.”
”If you think about it, the members of the investigation team who went to the café were crazy. I can’t believe they made it back safely.”
Oops… someone is talking about us. I pretended not to hear and moved on to the next panel. Of course, the last one was Aqua-san’s, which was noticeably larger than the others and had a substantial amount of writing, almost like a letter.
’Thank you for coming to Beryl Entertainment’s booth today. Actually, I wrote this message secretly this morning before everyone arrived because it’s embarrassing. I don’t usually get many opportunities to convey my feelings directly, but today, I wanted to send a message to everyone using this space.
I heard that many people purchased Morinaga’s Merry Biscuits. Congratulations to those who won. For those who didn’t win, don’t feel down, as there will be more campaigns in the future. Also, thank you for staying up late to watch ‘To You, Where the Flowers Bloom’ despite it being late at night. Although I only played Yuujin for a short time, it was a source of pride for me. During Corolle’s runway show, I could hear cheers not only from the audience but also from beyond the barrier lines. I was amazed by the number of people who came, but thanks to everyone’s support, I was able to do my best.
I was also surprised to hear that many people came from far away to attend the event at Fuji Department Store. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. To convey my gratitude, I will continue to do my best! Shirogane Aqua.’
As if time had frozen in that moment, nobody moved from their spot. Everyone’s gaze was fixed on the letter that had been written. The sound of quiet sobbing could be heard around me.
”Sniff… Sniff… Sniff…”
”It’s, it’s good, I, I’m a fan of Aqua-shama too.”
”Yeah, yeah, it’s great. Let’s keep supporting him.”
”Aqua-sama, this is too much. A letter expressing gratitude to the fans, something like that is impossible for normal idols.”
”Thank you, Aqua-sama, thank you!”
Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my cheeks as well. After wiping my tears with a handkerchief, I turned my gaze to the message that was written largely beside it.
[I will become the strongest idol in the galaxy!!]
Aqua-sama’s strong message made everyone gasp. Everyone present must have thought they wanted to see Shirogane Aqua, the strongest idol in the galaxy. As a fan, I also felt the strong desire to support her in achieving that dream.
”Aqua-sama, the strongest idol in the galaxy…”
A warm feeling surged in my chest. The previous stillness was shattered, and a passionate fire ignited in the eyes of those standing before Aqua-sama’s panel. Just then, a timely announcement resounded through the venue.
”At 1 PM, Beryl Entertainment’s event stage will begin. Those with stage event tickets, please follow the staff’s guidance to your designated seats. If you plan to have a meal, please do so now!”
Finally, the moment had come for Beryl Entertainment’s first stage to begin. To recharge my spirits, I headed for the food booth.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
Thanks for reading.