Credits and thanks goes to thuyster!
Act 1: The Deal


Here’s how it typically works in a manga. The female protagonist, who is just about to start high school or transfer to some place, meets a guy, who accidentally discovers her secret. He blackmails her, and she becomes his slave. In the end, they fall in love with each other despite their differences. Plus, he actually isn’t that evil. He just has a tough time showing his soft side, but yes, he does care about the girl.
Me? 

I’m almost done the first semester. I haven’t met a new guy at all, but yes, I do have a secret that’s like in generic shoujo manga. I have two sides: I’m the diligent, lovely student and on the other, I’m a huge manga fanatic and reviewer. Unlike most manga, I am not famous over the Internet. I do have may be six fans subscribed to my blog, but other than that, there isn’t much hype about my posts. I don’t really care though. I have fun reviewing manga and analyzing them. I like giggling in my room and guessing which guy the girl will choose. It’s usually between a blonde one or a black-haired one. My bias is always towards the black-haired one; he’s just hotter in too many ways.

Now, I’m sitting in front of my laptop when I should be writing an essay about the rock, aquamarine. Screw my birthstone. Why couldn’t I be born in April so I can be a diamond? Do you know how easy research would have been? No one gives a damn about aquamarines. 

Whatever. I feel like critiquing more. In fact, there is this manga that is making me particularly frustrated. I hate how the girl, Chie, chooses the blonde guy, Hiro. She should have gone with the other guy, Shu. I mean, Shu was always supporting her in the background. Actually, this manga, Hating You, is so typical of shoujo manga. It has all the standard stuff. Chie falls for that new bad boy, Hiro, who has a disturbing past. Hiro comes from Tokyo and moves to the countryside. Chie is sweetly innocent and is willing to stick with Hiro through everything. She believes that there is more to Hiro. Whenever Hiro upsets Chie, she has her childhood friend, Shu, comforting her. What a standard love triangle.

Because of this pathetic manga, I’m so glad that people scan and upload manga on the web. Now, I can read and know which manga to buy. Even when I have finished the series online, if I enjoyed it a lot, then I would definitely support the artist. In this case, I will not be supporting whoever wrote this. Hang on, let me check. Oh, it is by someone called Ojiro Ren. Well, Ojiro sensei, you will have a decrease in your sales coming from me. Plus, a harsh review. Not my fault when this manga was so poorly executed. At least, though, the drawings are nice. The people look hot.

So, here’s my review:

Hating You makes me hate the manga. I understand why the title was chosen. It was meant to show that the reader will eventually hate the manga, aka you. I feel as if the mangaka has chosen to thrown all the conventions known to shojou manga into one series. I can predict the ending so clearly. Chie will go with Hiro, and even though a lot of manga series do that, I find that I can’t relate to any of the characters. Shu is annoying as a supporting character. Chie is superficial and Hiro even more so. There is no sense of character development at all. All of the characters are static from beginning to end. 

I don’t even want to continue thinking about this poorly written piece of work. This makes me feel like I can be published too. I know I have way better ideas than this.

I highly do not recommend anyone reading this garbage.

What a waste of my night.


Click. My post is published, and I doubt anyone other than my eight followers will read this post. No harm in being honest huh?

And that . . . was the biggest mistake of my life. The next day, I am just sitting at the library, trying to waste some time before my lecture begins when a man calls out to me. Now to make things worse, I’m in the quiet zone on the first floor, where all of the librarians are doing their thing. Everyone has turned their heads towards me, and this man repeats with a crisp, loud voice, “Are you Marimo?”

Marimo is the name I use when I critique manga. I chose marimo out of my love for the plant; when girls have posters of their favourite bands, I have posters of either two things: manga characters or marimo. Marimo are round, fluffy plants that live under water. There are cute products featuring marimo, like key chains, cell phone chains, pens and pencils and even a small jar containing a little marimo.

Now, how in the world would he know that it was me? I have no idea, but I think I should lie, and I do to safe myself. “No,” I mutter and mind my own business by pretending to read my book on birthstones. I still have to finish this paper by tonight. It’s due tomorrow, and I need at least ten pages with all the necessary citations in APA. APA makes life so hard. Most of the online citation websites make MLA bibliography, not APA ones.

“No?” he bellows from the bottom of his lungs. “Then what about that keychain you have hanging from your bag? And that pen you are using?”

Again, I act innocent and answer, “So? I like marimo. That doesn’t mean I am who you think I am.”

“Lies!” he yells while grabbing onto my wrist. I am being forced out of my seat and from my belongings. I almost fall face first, but luckily, I have always been quick on my feet and land properly. Unfortunately, I’m leaving behind my book, my pencil case, my phone. . .

“Wait!” I urge and immediately, he stops marching ahead. Still, he doesn’t let go of my poor wrist. I swear I am going to get a huge hand mark. Wait is that even possible in real life? I mean in manga, the girls always complain that the guy is pulling too hard, and then he apologizes. I didn’t even get a chance to whine, and I end up requesting, “Can you let me, at least, pack up? Someone will steal my stuff.”

His creased eyebrows finally straighten out, but his grip tightens around my wrist. “Only if you promise not to run away after you clear up your stuff,” he orders.

“Okay,” I agree and casually march to my area. I purposely place my belongings slowly in my knapsack, and just when he is least expecting it, I run . . . for my life. No way am I stupidly letting this crazy man get ahold of me like that. Sprinting in the opposite direction, I realize that I am going to hit a dead road. The exit and the entrance to this library are the same. 

I must be the silliest person alive, and when I come to this conclusion, a librarian coughs and frowns at me. She is way past the golden age of her life, and with her crooked glasses, she scolds, “The library is not a place for people to fool around. If you want to fight with your boyfriend, then do that elsewhere. Don’t go using this place as your play pen.” Then, she moves away from me, scoffing.

My cheeks and ears by now are burning red as I head in the right way. Even from faraway, I see that man standing by the doors. He has his arms and legs crossed. He is staring at me penchantly through his rectangular, black framed glasses that are from Prada. I only see its Prada logo when I come face to face to him. I have to meet him anyways. He is guarding the only exit, so unless I want to camp out, I can only obey him. 

Examining this insane guy, I realize that he is . . . normal looking. If he were on the streets, I would never have thought of him as bizarre. I’d think that he was just a tall guy, around six feet, wearing a black suit and a black tie. I would think that he’d be on his way to a funeral with . . . matching combat boots and leather gloves? Oh my god. He looks like he is dressed to kill. . . literally kill. Maybe he has killed his fashion in a good way because his outfit reminds me of the runway. His face is just as freaky; he reminds me of those vampires in manga that are cold blooded and kill for no reason. He isn’t smiling at all. His single eye lids are the perfect ones for vampires; his skin is pale too. He has strong features: an upright nose, protruding cheeks that chisel down to his flat chin and thin, bloodless lips. I am sure he could cosplay as someone from Vampire Knight. He just needs to wear a wig and not part and gel his hair to the side. Right now, he is more like a business man playing a murderer. Why do I feel like I’m getting a prelude to my eventual demise?

I can picture the headlines already. Third-year university student lured from library and killed at the park on campus. Man in black strikes his second victim. How many bodies are left? Are we truly safe in institutions? The dangers of meeting new people. 

Oh god, I gulp. “Wh-wh-what do you want from me?” I find the courage within to stammer.

Out of the blue, he hollers, “Why?”

“Huh? Why what?”

“Why . . .” he pauses to glare at me. “Why do you hate Hating You?”

“Huh?”

He growls, “I’m saying, why do you hate my manga?”

“What? What manga?” I honestly do not know what he is talking about. Manga? 

“You critiqued my manga.”

“Yeah, so?” I accidentally blurt aloud. That’s a mistake on my part. I should deny that I knew anything about manga, yet the stupid me can’t lie at all. 

“Ha!” he proclaims and points his finger at me. “So you are Marimo! You are that anti-fan! Do you know how much hate I got from you?”

I scan the area and realize that a lot of people stop to tune into what is happening. This time, I’m the one that pulls him out of the scene or . . . at least I try to. A six feet one guy, probably weighing at least 68 kg, is not exactly easy to haul. Needless to say, I fail because he refuses to budge. He is like a tree that won’t die from a lightning bolt, and I am like a dog attached to a sleigh holding too much raw hide. I look like a fool, and I hear people chuckling at me. 

What is even more humiliating is that this man is shrieking, “What are you doing? Why are you holding onto me?”

Shouldn’t I have said that when he did that to me? What is with this reversal in roles? Now, I’m the one to beg, “Can’t you just run along with it?”

“No,” he states like a child refusing to take medicine, “I am not letting a stranger take me anywhere.”

What the hell! Who is the strange one here? Why am I even bothering with this weirdo? “You know what?” I let go of his wrist that I can barely hold onto with my hand. “Let’s just put this past us.” I’m not sure how I can be so brave, but I hold my ground, proclaiming, “Look. Your manga sucked. Your characters were boring and useless. The plot was so stereotypical. The transitions weren’t that great. The love triangle was dull. Only your drawings were okay. I don’t even get why you’re published in the first place.”

I’m expecting him to be very mad. I’m expecting him to demand me to compensate him. Instead, his whole intimidating look changes. He is scurrying to grab a small notebook from his blazer pocket. Then, like a reporter, he asks me softly, “Go on.Tell me more.” He even dares to offer, “Can I buy you coffee and we can talk more about this?”

Huh?

I can’t get that question out of my head, and only Lord knows why I am at the local coffe shop sitting across from a crazy man who looks like he is around his thirties. So, this is the face of the mangaka, Ojiji Rin? Is that his name? Whatever. Not important.

The sad part is that this is the first time someone, other than my immediate family, has ever bought me coffee. Hey, my love life is nonexistent, and that is why I fill my days with manga. Love in manga seems so perfect and cute. Love in real life is complicated and tiring. The last time I tried the dating scene was . . . never? Okay, I’m not ugly, but I’m not the prettiest. I’m not a tom boy either. I’m just average or above average. Maybe I don’t have the biggest chest. Size B is pretty standard. I’m only around 160 centimetres, but I do have perfect vision. I don’t rock the sexy look. I’m vintage cute. I have long, straight black hair and bangs. Sure, I’m skinny and awkwardly pale. My narrow, slit eyes are far apart and I have a button nose along with a heart-shaped face. My lips are just lips.

I haven’ t bothered to think what’s wrong with my love life. I have given up and have decided to thrive in the online world even though I’m far from being famous or infamous. So, now there’s this new guy, and I guess traditionally speaking, I’m supposed to hate him first then fall for him or my heart is already skipping too many beats. I don’t think I’m feeling any of these options. I’m feeling . . . more confused than ever, and here he is, acting like nothing is wrong. He is ordering himself an iced coffee with a spoonful of sugar, and the waiter asks me, “What would you like miss?”

I’m about to open my mouth when the crazy guy reminds me, “Don’t pick something over 500 yen. I don’t think I brought enough change on me.”

Wow. What a cheapass. Okay, maybe I am leaning towards hating him, and so, I pick the drink that costs exactly 500 yen. “Apple cinnamon tea, please,” I utter.

“All right,” the waiter informs us, “I’ll get your orders ready soon enough.”

The crazy guy brings out his notebook and pen out once more, lays them on the table, and questions, “Okay, so what exactly did you not like about my characters?”

Almost automatically, I want to list everything negative about them, but I remember that I shouldn’t even be having this discussion with him. I’m here for my free drink. I am also here to understand how he found me. How is it physically possible for someone to track me down using an IP address? The most they can get is my city. 

“How’d you find me?” I throw him my burning question.

“Oh that,” he replies too casually. “My brother works in the police department. He’s in charge of finding pedophiles and distributors of child porn online. That’s really another story. Anyhow, let’s get back—“

“Why do you even want to know so badly what I don’t like about your manga?” I cut him off.

He explains with his expressionless face, “I’m behind in sales and the popularity charts. They’re thinking of releasing me if my next series doesn’t sell.”

“So . . .”

“So, I want to know what’s wrong and learn,” he adds.

“And . . . why me?”

As he scoots back in his seat to allow the waiter to place the iced coffee on the table, the crazy guy states, “I was looking for feedback online, and I saw your post. You hated me, and I thought that this was it. Why not convert an anti-fan to be my fan? If I can win over you, then I can win over all the other critics out there.”

“Really, Ojiji-sensei—“

“It’s Ojiro sensei, and just call me Ren,” he interrupts me before taking a sip from his drink. “I’d rather not people know who I am and what I look like.”

I’m thinking that he is rather narcissitic. He’s not famous in the manga industry. He’s a rookie, and not really one. He has debuted for at least five years. It’s just that his series are not major hits. They’re just there on the shelves, and I happened to have read so many that I chanced upon his work. Honestly . . . what an unlucky pick.

“All right, Ren.” I feel weird addresing his name like that. He is much older than me. I can tell because of a few wrinkles that are surfacing under his eyes. 

“You’ll help me?” His eyes suddenly light up, and for a second, I think he is smiling, but that’s just how his jaw works.

I’m thinking that if I refuse, he will stalk me in any way. He is so desperate that he found me at my university’s library. If I say yes, I am helping a crazy guy, who will probably torment me. I may even be murdered or be tricked into a prostitution ring. What’s my safest choice then? My eyes dodge around the room until I zone in on this poster. 

Help wanted. Will pay . . .

“Why should I help you?” I test him out to see if he’s smart enough to read my mind.

He lets out a scoff, and then announces, “I’ll pay you. I’ll pay you to be my muse. I’ll give you 5000 yen an hour.”

That’s a pretty good offer, but I think I can do better. I tutor this kid during the weekends for 2500 yen an hour. “8000 yen,” I boldly suggest.

“7000 yen.”

“6000 yen.”

“Deal!” He slams his palm so hard on this table that the salt and pepper shakes jump up. “Okay, Marimo—“

“It’s Takada Misa,” I correct him.

“Misa, let’s get down to work now.”

I check my watch and realize that class is about to start in fifteen minutes. “But I have class,” I argue.

“Then, I’ll just follow you to class and afterwards, we can work some more.”

“Umm . . . why?”

“Because I think you just inspired me to start a new series about an average university student.”

“And?”

“And you’re going to be my main character.”

Huh?

Yeah, it seems that whenever I’m with this man. I’m left wondering about this. What the heck is going on? You’d think I’d be like Hayasaka Yukari from Paradise Kiss, where George makes her his muse. Now, that was really sexy. They had all this chemistry, lust and passion. As for me . . . a mangaka’s muse? One that is not even a genius and is almost going to be fired from his job?

Oh god.

Why . . . why do I like money so much?

I blame it on food, clothes, makeup . . . and everything good that I can buy.
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