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Spring 2022 

 

"Hiii!" 

 

The camera turned to reveal a bright-eyed girl with fluffy white hair and two pointed ears atop her head, wearing a bright, flowered kimono belted over monpe. "I am Neko Musume and welcome to my channel! As always, make sure to like and subscribe!" She winked one big yellow eye and pointed right at the camera, before leaning backwards to show the dizzying heights beneath her on the roof. Freedom City's buildings were certainly very tall and their roofs guarded, but things like that weren't a problem for her. 

 

In the actual video, this was the point where Merlin would edit in parts from previous videos over the theme music he'd helped her pick out, but of course she had to imagine that. She carefully set the phone down where it could see her face, then smiled at it. She knew that was what the fans liked, big wide smiles and big eyes, like a baby's. Boys are very easy. In any country 

 

"We will start today with questions." She pointed to where the words would appear on the screen below her face. 

 

"Number 1: 'Are you a real catgirl?" She smiled again and ran her fingers through her ears, then stood up and carefully aimed the camera to show off her tail. "Yes, I am a real catgirl." The other questions were about whether or not she had a boyfriend "no, I'm not seeing anyone like that" and if she liked pocky "yes, it is pretty sweet and crunchy", and then she laughed and said "These are old questions! Send me new questions!" She knew that many of the questions she was sent were about her body, even though Merlin had been very cagey about that. 

 

He hadn't need to keep the secret. Neko had spent part of her girlhood marching with an army that was almost all men and boys. She understood what they wanted, and that a great many of them were pigs. This was nothing new. 

 

"Now, for the show!" With a noisy crinkle of paper, she opened the bag she'd snuck up onto the roof under her arm. "Today, Catgirl Reacts To...Double Cheeseburger!" She unwrapped the gigantic greasy sandwich - and burst out laughing. "Look at this! This is crazy!" She held it up for the camera and said "This is food for three people!" She looked down at the burger and studied it carefully, exaggerating her difficulties for the benefit of the audience, while saying, "How do you even bite it?" Experimentally she nibbled on it, then tried the fries and onion rings that came with it. 

 

"There is just so much food, that is crazy!" she said, shaking her head. "When I was a girl, we would take this and put it with noodles, and we could eat it all week!" Remembering that it wouldn't do to slander the business where she'd bought it, she added exuberantly, "If you want to get a crazy burger, go to Habib Grill, where they have many crazy burgers like this." She chewed carefully, then carefully started wrapping it up. "I will put the rest away - if I keep eating this, I will get fat!" 

 

That seemed unlikely, especially when she stretched backwards to balance on her hands, the phone camera just catching her legs as she kicked them up into the air. With an acrobat's casual ease, she spoke as she walked on her hands, "I am still working on the video for Catgirl Reacts to Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai. Remember to vote for what anime you want me to watch next in the comments!" She smiled brightly and said "I like it! It is not boring." It reminded her a little of the comics she'd read when she was supposed to be studying back in the old days, albeit with a little more freedom to show what the world was really like. 

 

"Um, let's see," she said, picking up the phone and flipping over to land on her feet, then leaning so far back her ears nearly touched her tail. "People like it when I sing. Here is a song I used to sing in, um, my home. I am not very good at singing but here it is." That was evidently a lie but it was what she'd been told when compared to the great singers in her home village. Neko's voice was soft and low as it carried out to the phone's microphone: 

 

"Odoma iya iya,
Naku ko no mori nya.
Naku to iwarete uramareru,
Naku to iwarete uramareru.

Nenne shita ko no
Kawaii sa, muzo sa.
Okite naku ko no tsura niku sa.
Okite naku ko no tsura niku sa."
 

 

"That is a song about babies. There are many babies in Freedom City!" she said, "And all of them so healthy! It is amazing but they can be loud!" She talked a little more about babies, skating around which one she knew and which she didn't, opining that cloth nappies were much better than disposable ones, while she bent and stretched on the rooftop. She had been around a great many of them, and was around even more of them now.

 

When she'd recorded enough patter, she did a little flip back upright and said, "This is Catgirl saying Sayōnara!" After that, she gathered up her bag and began the process of hopping down the side of the building to the upper-story balcony where she'd started her climb. Being a 'social media star' was already making her money, and Merlin was delighted by his share of the proceeds. Maybe things weren't so hard in the future after all... 

 

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