Volume 4 Snippet 2.3
「Finally finished inking the sketch……」
One night, after finishing a certain task, Makoto muttered as she did a long stretch. On the manuscript paper in front of her were two men entangled with one another, depicted in quite the gorgeous design. This was probably one of the comparatively softer drawings of hers. The pages maybe went up to 36 or so.
「Yeah, these are some big gaps. I never thought it would take this long with this amount……」
Makoto muttered with a sigh after gulping down milk. It had been one week since Hiroshi bought her a doujinshi making set (complete with printer). Despite cooping herself up for over half a day every day to draw, she had only just finished sketching. Considering how there was still a lot more to do here, a normal night’s work could very well stretch to a month’s worth.
「Man, but when I was back in action, I could easily take college classes, complete assignments, and watch anime and still complete this thickness within a month……」
This was what you’d expect from a previous entrepreneur in doujins. If Makoto meant what she said just now, her work pace must have been even faster way back when.
「I mean sure, there’s no deadline, but this is my first time drawing over here, so I’d rather not be sluggish, y’know. And besides that there’s also the naming, the plot, and all that.」
Makoto groaned at how delayed the work was as she checked the notebook and almost rough sketches. In contrast to her fiery urge of creativity, she just wasn’t making much progress.
Still, simply lamenting would not cause things to improve. As Makoto motioned to get back to her work, there was a knock on the door.
「It’s me. I brought dinner.」
「Door’s open, so go ahead.」
Responding to Tatsuya’s call, Makoto went ahead and quickly cleaned up the scattered paper. Since she had to dry the ink of any sketches, she left those alone.
「So what’s for dinner?」
「They say it’s dangos they plan to sell tomorrow.」
「But Haruna made them, right? So why are you the one telling me?」
「Said something about her and Mio not wanting to go in your room, so they pushed the task on me. Pretty gutsy thing to do, huh?」
「Well, it’s true this would be problematic to show to underage kids.」
Makoto just grimaced at Tatsuya’s complaint about Haruna. After all, even if she were drawing relatively soft images, the self-limitations of the industry would absolutely mark it as 18+. Haruna was one thing, since she was legal age, but even showing her wasn’t something Makoto really wanted to do. Mio was simply out of the question.
「But for something Rainy brought up as an idea, you don’t seem to be imitating anyone. Doesn’t seem like we’re being shipped either.」
「Well yeah, if I do that it won’t seem like I’ve turned over a new leaf, right?」
「Well yeah, very true.」
「Besides, what kind of idiot would put you and Hiroshi together in a manga? Even I am capable of learning a good amount from mistakes and I don’t have any death wish, kay?」
Tatsuya had an indescript expression on his face, unable to counter this very honest statement. Many things would fall apart if she drew that and it would certainly seem that she learned nothing from the past. Still,
「For someone who has supposedly moved on, you still seem to fantasize about it, eh?」
Apparently no matter how much one reflected on their actions, habit was still second-nature. Despite regretting how this prevented her from getting into an actual relationship, Makoto still seemed to really like the idea of shipping Tatsuya and Hiroshi together.
「Yeah, well just think of it as a bad habit of us fujoshi. There’s more than just one guy here and it’s comparable to how y’all would look at Haruna’s lightly dressed bod and imagine some sort of insertion.」
「I mean yeah, it’s not like I don’t get you, but…」
「It doesn’t count as long as we don’t say anything, so I’d really appreciate it. Could you?」
「……Hmm, so just don’t say anything and no one gets hurt.」
Telling fujoshi not to fantasize was like forcing drunkards to abstain from alcohol. If it were really possible to abstain, none of them would be this far down the rabbit hole.
「Sure, I don’t see why not, but just don’t let any of it catch the ears of anyone, alright? It won’t go down well at all.」
「Yeah yeah, I know.」
Makoto nodded seriously. Tatsuya was quite lenient toward BL lovers, so having him say this meant he was using the minimum amount of etiquette. Makoto herself was aware she had broken this etiquette leading to trouble before and that she got what she deserved.
But from Tatsuya’s perspective, even men would find it weird for you to just proclaim around the campus that you got shipped with someone. Maybe this wasn’t true 100% of the time, but the average sane individual (with heterosexual tendencies) would generally find the mere thought of being labeled as gay repulsive and would never allow anyone to assume such a thing. At least, if you considered that to be a risk, you’d never do that.
But the fact this guy had actually done that meant either that he wanted to get revenge on Makoto even if it meant his self-destruction or that he wanted to make Makoto the villain so that she could empathize with him. Considering how this reached the entire school, it was a bit much.
In actuality, these speculations of Tatsuya’s were practically spot-on: the male was in fact searching for some sort of pretext to dump Makoto. This was because he had been satisfied by the first attempt, which went quite well and ensnared a fairly cute girl.
Makoto as she was right now probably wouldn’t fall for anyone like that again, but at the time she was just a regular fujoshi who had zero romantic experience and with an unfavorable position in society and no lens through which to determine what men were like based off experience. BEsides, if she hadn’t gotten hurt when she did, Makoto would have simply made the same mistake in the workforce and suffered a more fatal blow. So in that sense, this wasn’t all that bad.
「Well, leaving that aside, can I ask you something?」
「I don’t really have a problem with what you draw, but would it be possible to draw regular manga alongside your BL?」
Makoto let out an exclamation at Tatsuya’s unexpected proposal. Anticipating this, Tatsuya spoke straightforwardly.
「Again, no issues here with BL. But! There isn’t even a manga culture in this world, at least not the kind we grew up on, right?」
「Well no, there isn’t. Books aren’t cheap enough for commoners to buy in the first place.」
Makoto nodded meekly at Tatsuya. Paper technology had progressed a fair amount in this world, and there was in fact moveable type printing technology. As a result, books were not so expensive that commoners couldn’t buy them, but in part due to a low literacy rate, books were still not cheap, and there were not many from the entertainment genre.
Moveable printing meant that books with Makoto’s high quality, delicate illustrations did not exist, and so by that logic, no one wanted to make manga that used large amounts of pictures. Even the glamorous books tat Queen Mishaela had in Darl had zero pictures, not even on the cover. Not even shunga (erotic or pornographic woodblock prints) had been made, so that particular book still fetched a good price.
Consequentially, there was no foundation from which to begin the manga revolution.
「So that’s where we bring in our nostalgic manga, and then of course that starts a new era, right?」
「Yeah. That would make sense.」
「So don’tcha think starting it off with BL would create the wrong impression about manga, that perhaps BL is the only way to go?」
Makoto had to strongly agree with Tatsuya’s sharp observation. As someone deeply invested in her hobbies, she hadn’t looked at it from that perspective.
「So I was wondering if maybe you could make the kind that’s okay for children can look at.」
「Okay, no problem. I’ll think of something. Could I still model you two?」
「As long as it’s not some kind of extreme diss, then I don’t personally mind.」
As she heard his response, Makoto began thinking of some ideas. Or rather, she had immediately come up with two ideas. If it was fine to use people she knew, she could easily use both of them and “manga” fy them.
「Right off the bat I have a four panel manga titled『Record of the Struggles of Azuma Workshop』and a love comedy titled 『Haruna-chan Does Her Best』, so what do you think?」
「Sounds interesting, yeah. The workshop is chock-full of talented people, so I doubt that’s problematic. As for the love comedy, make sure you get Haruna’s permission, alright?」
「Yeah, yeah, I know.」
「Also, I’d like you to show me the details when you get to the rough sketch part, as I’m sure there are some parts I’d discourage you from putting in there.」
「Roger. Then I guess I’ll go at it for a bit longer.」
Makoto said, putting the finished dango skewer back on that plate and handing it to Tatsuya. Afterward, right before meeting up with Aearis and the others, the fruits of Makoto’s struggles would birth the 120 page「Record of the Struggles of Azuma Workshop」and the 140 page「Haruna-chan Does Her Best」sketches, and then after seeking permission from all parties involved would go on to complete both right before leaving Forre.
The two new completed manga would open up a new realm of entertainment that seeped out of Azuma Workshop to Darl, from which it would explode everywhere via the People of the Earth’s printing tech. Afterward, everywhere in the world would put their effort into developing their own printers via their workshops and the manga culture would solidify itself, except
「……Nah, you know that Alvan x Dentlis is the main attraction here…」
「……But if we wanted to break the status quo and go for the Layotte x Alvan combo……」
「……Nay, nay, first we need milord and the retainer to be paired…」
Denizens spontaneously emerged underground who had a similar mindset to Makoto, never showing themselves in daylight but nevertheless the creators of new varieties of books. Needless to say, the real people who the characters were based on would not be seeing these.
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