Scene: somewhere in an undisclosed location. I wake up in a cot in a cramped room that is no clearly no longer inside my house. I get out of the cot and notice that all I’m wearing is a t-shirt and boxer shorts.
(Enter Scott, Shiori)
Shiori Usami: Ah, you’re finally awake.
Scott: What the– I thought this dream was over! Are you my last waifu?
Shiori: Oh no, you must be mistaken. I’m your sexy young operator here to guide you on your next challenge. Don’t fall in love!
Scott: Right… (Shiori hands Scott a pair of pants and grins)
Shiori: My, my. You’re still healthy after all, aren’t you? (Shiori points down below his waist. Scott throws a pillow at her.)
Scott: Get out of here so I can change! And don’t get any funny ideas! This is just my morning– eh… never mind. (Shiori chuckles and steps outside. Scott put on his pants and glasses and meets her in the next room over. Nanana can be seen in the background, scarfing down more pudding. Scott tries to ignore and let her be)
Shiori: This is it. Your final challenge for Last Waifu Standing: Cosplay Edition! In this challenge, you will be wearing all of the cosplays you have ever done and meeting the characters you are supposed to get together with! You must assume the role of your cosplay and win over your OTP!
Scott: What? Who comes up with such a scheme! Besides, how do you know about my cosplays? It’s not like I do exclusive features for them–oh.
Shiori: It’s alright. You only have to do the ones that you have referenced somewhere on your blog. I already know that you only cosplay as a conversation starter at conventions. You’d rather talk to people than show off that hot body of yours. (Scott covers up his chest)
Scott: Wha- what would you know about my body? (Shiori grins, as her glasses tint from the overhead lights’ reflection) Never mind. I don’t want to know.
Shiori: (hands him a small device) Take this. All six of the cosplays you have done have already been stored on this Trigger. You will enter our training field over there and wear each one. There, you will meet the other half of your characters’ OTPs and talk to them.
Scott: Got it. I accept your challenge.
Shiori: You already know what to do. Meet up and break up with them! (Shiori sits back behind a computer to activate the virtual training room, as Scott steps inside.)
Scott: No. I’m going to do something different.
Shiori: Oh? And what’s that?
Scott: See, I never declared a waifu or hasbando for any of the series that I did a cosplay for. If I’m going to play my characters right, I’m going to give their better halves exactly what they have been waiting for. I’m going to make them fall in love with me.
Shiori: I see. (smiles sweetly) Well you’ve already conquered one of your girls. Maybe after all this, we can go out and celebrate somewhere. My treat.
Scott: Thanks, but no thanks. You’re still too young for me.
Shiori: Not in another year. (winks)
Scott: Yeesh! I think I’ll still pass.
Shiori: (laughs and finishes hashing away at her keyboard) The training room is ready. These exercises are meant to be the real thing, so be careful. And Scott… knock ’em dead!
Scott: You got it! (Scott holds the device outward, shouting something that he’s always wanted to, just for the hell of it) Trigger. On!
(Exit Shiori, smiling)
Cosplay 1: Osamu Mikumo (World Trigger)
(The environment around Scott changes, as the training room transforms into an empty city. Scott appears to look like Osamu Mikumo as he looks around. Enter Ai)
Ai Kitora: Took you long enough, Osamu. I’ve been waiting for you for 5 minutes. Had enough fun with Shiori?
Scott: What? No, that’s not what I was–
Ai: Look, it’s fine. I know it’s you, Scott. The real Osamu is back at HQ, preparing his strategy for the next battle.
Scott: Okay. Now that you know who I am–
Ai: Listen. I’m not here to beat around the bush. I’m not very fond of you at all. And I think your obsession with waifus and OTPs is childish. Me? Fall in love with Osamu? Only in a boy’s depraved mind would that ever happen.
Scott: (aside) Well, so much for that.
Ai: But you do remind me of that four-eyed novice a lot. You’re a thinker. An architect. And you shoulder a lot of responsibility that isn’t necessarily your own. You want to be a fighter, but you don’t have the strength or ability to be one. Getting compliments from others that you’re doing a great job only adds more stress to the work that you’ve already put in, so I’m just going to tell you what you need to do, as clear as possible.
Scott: Okay. What?
Ai: You want to impress a girl? You need to put yourself out there. Let them know you’re interested, and respond to suitors as soon as possible. You can’t shroud yourself behind a virtual space like a blog forever, and you definitely can’t spill your feelings out for all the world to see. You need to show some restraint.
Scott: Yeah. I get that a lot.
Ai: And one more thing. You need to be patient with them. It’s not going to happen right away. Love takes time to grow, develop, and most importantly for you, heal.
Scott: Wow. I never knew you could be such an expert on love, Ai. Does that have to do with your name?
Ai: (blushes) Who, me? No, you got it all wrong. This has nothing to do with my name!
Scott: Then how would you know?
Ai: I’m an A-rank of Border’s PR squad. I have to put my face out there for all of Mikado City to see. People know who I am around here because I am visible, and not everyone’s going to like what I do. But mark my words. Even though I’m busy saving face, I still train as hard, if not harder, than anyone else to maintain my position. You must do the same, or you will lose in the battle of love. Got it?
Scott: I think so.
Ai: Good. (an explosion occurs some distance away) Well I’ve got work to do to become stronger. Can’t let Osamu and his team catch up with me.
Scott: Thank you.
Ai: And Scott: make that special girl of yours proud. (Exit Ai, stern as ever)
Cosplay 2: Taichi Tanaka (Tari Tari)
(Scene changes to a different city, this time with more people around. Now appearing as Taichi Tanaka, Scott sits down at an outdoor café table, when his next partner arrives. Enter Sawa)
Sawa Okita: (waves) Hey there! It’s so nice to meet you for the first time, Scott.
Scott: Oh. So you know who I am, too?
Sawa: (laughs) Of course I do. Everyone you’ll meet today does. Besides, Taichi’s not anywhere around here. I went overseas to study at a university, remember?
Scott: Yeah. I guess you’re right.
Sawa: So, how about it? Wanna go out with me? I am sooo exhausted from all the lectures and readings! I barely have time to do any horseback riding.
Scott: Sure. But… actually, I just wanted to talk.
Sawa: Not very assertive about your feelings, are you? You’re just like Taichi that way. (Sawa smiles and sits down across from him) Okay. What is it you would like to talk about?
Scott: Well, I guess… I’ve been kind of depressed lately. I feel like I’m running in one place, and can’t move forward. As if… I want to do something more with my life, but can’t.
Sawa: And why not?
Scott: Well, if I stay back, I lose my chance to try something new. But if I move forward, I’m going to leave friends behind. I can’t do both, you know? (Sawa ponders while looking at the drinks menu. She signals a waiter to come over and asks for two iced teas. The waiter obliges and leaves.)
Sawa: You know what’s funny? I used to think just like that. That feeling when you’re caught between what you want to do, and the expectations of everyone else? That’s how I felt living at home. I just wanted to break free, become an archer, and take care of my horses for the rest of my life, you know? But my father had different plans for me. He wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer, someone who makes a good amount of money or something.
Scott: But that’s so unfulfilling!
Sawa: I know, right? (laughs) We really do get along.
Scott: Yeah. Maybe I should’ve cosplayed you instead of Taichi. I don’t even play badminton!
Sawa: You? Cosplay as me? You would look terrible! (they laugh together, and then enjoy staring into each others’ eyes for awhile) You know, Scott? There was something that helped me make the right decision.
Scott: And what’s that?
Sawa: The bonds I had with my friends in the Choir Club.
BOTH: …And Sometimes Badminton Club! (laugh some more)
Sawa: Oh, we had so much fun in our last year at Shirahamazaka High. I’ll never forget them. Singing and laughing. Playing and running around. Advertising for the shopping district. Saving our school with one last song… And falling in love. (Sawa pauses, and they gaze at each other in sweet silence) You know what happened after that?
Scott: Well, other than the fact that the school closed down, no.
Sawa: It’s simple. I let go. I came here, got really busy with school, and left them all behind. (Scott looks down at her in dismay) Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still love them and talk to them as much as I can! It’s just… you know. It’s a lot harder to do as you get older. You naturally drift apart. Change interests. Move forward. But that’s just how strong our bonds were when we got together for that one moment in time.
Scott: I don’t get it.
Sawa: See, I can let go of them now because I know they’ll always be there for me. Konatsu, Wakana, Vien, my family and all the others… and Taichi. They will always be right where I need them, no matter where I go. Right here. (Sawa points toward her chest) Scott, I don’t know you very well right now, but I can tell that you have a lot of love for your friends and family, too. But you have to learn to let them go, just as I have. Only then can you really have that push to move forward and do what you want to do. I know I have when I made my decision to come here. And you can, too.
Scott: Wow. I really do have so much to learn. (The waiter returns with two iced teas. Sawa and Scott thank the waiter and raise their glasses together.)
Sawa: Well, this has been a really fun date! It’s really nice to meet you, Scott.
Sawa: Here’s to the future ahead of us!
Scott: And to the ones we love…
Sawa: I hope you will find the one you love someday. I believe in you. And I’m sure you will make her really happy.
(We smile and clang our glasses together and take a sip. Exit Sawa, serene and content)
Cosplay 3: Ryō Shinnai (Comical Psychosomatic Medicine)
(The scene changes again, to a clinical office. Scott is wearing a lab coat and has blonde hair. He tugs on it, only to find that it’s not a wig.)
Scott: EEEHHHHH!! What is this!? (Enter Asuna)
Asuna Kangoshi: Oh hey, Scott! You made it just in time!
Scott: What? What are you talking about?
Asuna: Sensei had to call in sick, but we still have to start the show! This week we’re doing our review on dreams and delusions of grandeur! With a surprise twist that all we’ll ever discuss are sexual fantasies, of course!
Asuna: I’ll get in this hospital bed and wake up half naked and start walking around aimlessly. Ready?
Scott: What? No! Don’t do that! I’m trying to keep this fan fiction suitable for a teenage audience!
Asuna: You do know that most of your fan base are young adults, right? They can handle it.
Scott: Yeah, but I don’t want to do that! Why do you think I refrain from using any explicit curse words? ***t!
Asuna: Aww… you’re no fun.
Scott: Whatever. Tell me, Asuna. Of all the nurses on this show, why are you Dr. Shinnai’s OTP? Dr. Shinnai’s supposed to be the stickler of a dysfunctional harem of perverted nurse sisters! And Ladybeard, I guess.
Asuna: But my sisters weren’t written for this script, so they’re not here. And Ladybeard? You really do have a depraved mind. Anyway, you wanted me specifically because I’m the middle child. And you know what they say…
BOTH: (I say it unenthusiastically while Asuna says it cheerfully) We have to look out for each other.
Scott: Yeah, I established that in an earlier chapter. I’m really starting to regret that, because it really limits my pool of whom I choose to be the best character from every series I talk about.
Asuna: (wags her index finger) And that’s exactly what’s wrong with you.
Scott: What do you mean?
Asuna: You’re so serious all the time. Even when you’re trying to make an elaborate joke, like say, write a fan fiction where you’re intentionally disappointing waifus as the Mary-Sue, you come across as too sad. Dreadful. Boring, even! Who’s gonna want to read something like that besides you? You really are like Sensei that way.
Scott: Oh come on! It’s not my fault no one understands classical humor anymore, where the goal is to make people feel good, as opposed to simply make them laugh!
Asuna: I rest my case.
Scott: Huh? (Asuna strips Scott of his cosplay, revealing him in only his underwear. Scott cowers in shock of what just happened and covers his privates)
Asuna: You need to lighten up! Do something unexpected! Get your audience to want more out of you!
Scott: WHAT THE FUCK, ASUNA! I’M NOT A DOCTOR, I’M AN ANIME CRITIC!!
Asuna: Ah, see? I knew you had it in you to say something crazy. Now then… how about we move on to the next phase of the show?
Scott: (lowers his head in shame) And what’s that?
Asuna: The part where you explain to the audience exactly what just happened. Only sound all doctor-like!
Scott: What part of “I’m not a doctor” did you not understand?
Asuna: Oh, that’s right. You don’t have the experts to help you write this fan fiction, huh?
Scott: Excuse me?
Asuna: You didn’t know? Sensei isn’t an actual medical clinician. He’s an anime and manga character, so he’s fiction!
Scott: Yeah. I know.
Asuna: Sensei may not be a real doctor, but when you reviewed the anime, you did the best you can to sound like an expert like him, right?
Scott: Of course. That’s my job as a critic.
Asuna: Exactly! So when you write your reviews, work, or hang out with your friends, you have to remember to play the game. Understand what you’re supposed to do in each situation, sort of speak. That’s what professionals do.
Scott: Wow, Asuna. You’re pretty knowledgeable about stuff like this.
Asuna: (backs Scott into a wall, poking his chest) But you also have to remember to have some fun with it! No one likes a person who’s so uptight about everything.
Scott: Yeah. Maybe you’re right.
Asuna: And you should probably try to concise your posts, too. No one wants to read too much without any visuals. But then again… (Asuna grabs Scott by the arm and twirls him across the lobby. Scott stands in one place, dazed, trying to regain his balance) You could use all that extra detail to your advantage. Give them something worth reading! It’ll keep your creative spirit, and your audience will feel smarter for reading a lot of words, even if they’re filler!
Scott: Wow. That sounds dumb and manipulative.
Asuna: Yeah, but it’s so much fun, isn’t it?
Scott: I guess you’re right.
Asuna: Okay then (winks). I have to let you go now. But before I do, there’s one thing left to do.
Scott: Oh no. (Enter Ladybeard)
Ladybeard: Oh Sensei! I must confess. I love you so much!!
Scott: No. No! NOOOO!!! (Ladybeard chases Scott around the lobby as he screams in horror. The scene cuts to a freeze frame)
Asuna: If you’re feeling depressed, please call your mental health clinic today! (Exit Asuna and Ladybeard, energetically)