Happy birthday to the most hardworking, beautiful girl in the world. You inspire me to work hard every day, so in return I will always have your back. Thank you for bringing your sakura-colored joy into our lives and making our days just a little bit brighter.
For Riko-chan's birthday, I began the celebration with some extravagant pulls on SIF. There was definitely some screaming and squeals of happiness during these pulls! I was so surprised when the birthday UR came home, and was overjoyed with all the new cards in my collection. They're each so precious to me and they make me love Riko-chan all the more.
Riko-chan's actual birthday fell on a work day, so I brought two little cakes to share with my coworkers during lunch! We ate together happily, and I felt that Riko-chan would also be more than happy to share with her friends. I also decked my apron in more Riko merch for her birthday. Usually, I have the KoiAqu pin and the Over the Next Rainbow pin, but I added the KimiKoko and Idolized Nurse pin. I also printed a label that said "happy bday riko" and stuck it on my KoiAqu pin. My apron got kinda heavy but it was absolutely worth it. This is a collection of (most of) my Riko-chan merch. The magazine and shikishi are some of my favorite pieces so far. I also had a promotional movie clear file, but it was MIA because I moved not too long ago. :'( I am still looking to expand my collection, and there's definitely some pieces I am eyeing. I always love window shopping for new Riko-chan merch, so I hope my collection will grow more as does my love for her!
I stopped drawing a while ago, because I simply lost that lifelong spark. It almost felt like Riko-chan's character arc, where she couldn't play piano because of her fears. It wasn't so much a fear for me, but just a lack of inspiration. Drawing felt like a burden rather than a freedom, and every time I would start something, it wouldn't go well and I would be further discouraged from drawing. But then I thought, Riko-chan was able to spark her love for piano again, so I can start drawing too! So for Riko-chan's birthday, I put aside all my hesitations of messing up or not having a drawing turn out the way I wanted to; it was freeing to not care about perfection. Of course, this drawing also didn't turn out the way I expected to, but instead of beating myself up for it, I can use this to improve myself as an artist. I wanted this drawing to be soft and feminine, just like Riko-chan is. Her dress features roses and cherry blossoms, and also some references to her musical talent with her earrings. I thought of focusing on her drawing hobby, because I feel like it is sometimes overlooked. In LLSIF, she mentions that someday she wants to draw Uchiura's scenery, so I depicted her drawing the shoreline. I didn't forget to add her characteristic 八 eyebrows and her sharp yet kind eyes. It was self-indulgent getting to draw all my favorite parts of Riko-chan in this piece and I'm so happy that I'm out of the art rut!
Honestly, I wasn't expecting to be such a dedicated Riko-chan fan. When Aqours was first announced, I was neutral at best in regards to them. But when KimiKoko came out, I realized Riko-chan's magnetic aura. I had the song on repeat for weeks! The pivotal moment for me was during Aqours' 1st Live--yes, that performance. Omoi yo Hitotsu ni Nare is my favorite song from the entire franchise, and it is near and dear to my heart. Watching Aida-san be so hard on herself after the incident was heartbreaking, and I was so thankful for the other members being so supportive for her. I remember Aida-san speaking of the incident during a livestream, and she said in that moment Riko-chan came down and helped her get through the performance.
That anecdote solidified the fact that Riko-chan was my best girl. She is hardworking and humble, and despite her easily getting flustered, she keeps a cool head when needed. She resonates with me, and at the same time, she inspires me to improve myself and work hard. I'm so happy that Riko-chan is in Aqours, and that I was able to meet her. I look forward to celebrating many more joyous birthdays!
Happy birthday again, Riko-chan!