Gather around every birdie and I shall tell you a tale! Of pudding and puns! Of broken hearts and windows! Of ASMR and the questionable things, you can make Mickey Mouse say in any given circumstance! Onions and overly dramatic openings to articles! For this, I tell you the tale of the LanStars and the bizarre video game that brought them together!
Once upon a time, there was a Manga artist named Hato Moa. In 2011, alongside her dōjin circle PigeoNation Inc., she created a visual novel dating sim based on a flash game she had made for an April Fools Day joke. The majesty that was Hatoful Boyfriend was released in October to overwhelmingly positive reviews as the world fell in love with this pigeon dating sim. They laughed, they cried, they craved pudding and scrambled to nab a plushie of their favorite birds. The game has become infamous for its quirky concept and surprisingly deep messages mixed within.
…This is not that type of story! Sit back everybirdie as a tale is spun! A tale not as old as time…
Come for the ridiculous premise, stay for the heart-wrenching emotions.
Back in the distant time of 2018, a young woman was having the literal worst time battling her own inner demons. Heartbroken, scared, feeling unsafe with those she once valued good friends. She was struggling with the thought of her eldest dog losing her eyes to glaucoma and retreated into herself trying to pick herself up with very little luck.
By January of 2019, she had all but locked herself away, vanishing from social media almost entirely. Her only solace was her ‘Let’s Plays’ and her live streams which she’d been doing diligently for years. She was just finishing up Okami when a new face came into the Twitch chat one day. A young man around her age whom she didn’t know at the time was battling his own inner demons. The two started talking briefly on Discord through a shared love of the Breath of Fire series on a mutual friend’s server, and though their interactions were still new, there was still comfort there knowing someone was watching.
Eventually, the girl streamed Night in the Woods and Fran Bow, both solid games on their own. But made all the more special by the new friends in the chat cheering her on, including this young man who over time started reaching out to her in unexpected ways. Random private messages, surprise Steam gifts, jokes galore and silly out of context quotes. At one point it was as simple as joining a Jackbox game together with another mutual friend on a whim. And to this day joining in multiple ‘Let’s Plays’ and live streams alongside other cherished friends.
This new friend was just the light needed for the young woman to regain more confidence in herself and pick herself up from her darkness. Eventually, she returned to social media and opened up again. Joining more Discord servers and getting to know her new friends better. Especially the young man who helped make it happen.
The bad things did not go away despite her return as life. She lost friendships in her isolation. Her dog eventually lost her eyes entirely. Paranoia and panic attacks ensued when uncomfortable subject matter that reminded her of her past was brought up. But through it all, her new friend stuck by her, be it with funny stories or advice or just a listening ear. So it made things a little easier. She, in turn, would do the same for him when he struggled. Be it through her words, her videos, her art, or just a shoulder to cry on. They worked together to get through difficult times.
At some point during their growth, the woman had been given Hatoful Boyfriend on Steam as a gift. She had heard of the game once before and watched a ‘Let’s Play’ of it long ago, but didn’t quite know what to expect. Luckily, her new friend had quite a familiarity with this game. He loved it to the point of having a quote from the game as his FaceBook banner for some time. On top of that, he had a slew of acting talent under his belt as well as voice acting to add life to these stagnant images of pigeons dancing across the screen. So it only felt natural that the two would join together in streaming this bizarre visual novel dating sim and sharing it with their friends.
The first stream the pair romanced Nageki. The book-obsessed mourning dove who hid away in the library with seemingly no friends. He was voiced by Morgan Freeman for some reason. The second stream was to woo the speedy Okosan as he cooed his way towards hunting the One True Pudding. Pretty sure a couple of friends in the Twitch chat were craving pudding by the end of that route. By the third stream, it was time to seduce Ryouta. The rock dove who struggled with health issues and the fears of mortality while wearing a fabulous dress. That particular story was hard to go through for a number of reasons. The snooty French aristocrat Sakuya was in there too as he fanned his tail everywhere and tried to defy his father’s ways by becoming a musician.
The fourth stream took on a completely different tone hours before it even started. It had come to no surprise to the young woman that after spending so much time with her new friend that feelings had started to form. She looked forward to every day she got to talk with him. And got giddy to joke around with him, wanted to find ways to cheer him up on his rougher days and when he was away on vacation she went to great lengths to surprise him with gifts upon his return.
She was no stranger to crushes, but after past experiences of rejection, she pushed it aside not wanting to lose him entirely. However, it seemed other friends suspected there was more than even both of them realized. Cracking jokes about how close they were and telling them to stop flirting. It took her a bit to wonder if her feelings were indeed reciprocated, so she went on like nothing was different.
That is until the day of the stream. The plan was to do 2 routes this time. Shuu, the not so obviously evil partridge doctor who only became scarier with a Mickey Mouse voice. And Yuuya, Sakuya’s smooth-talking older brother who was very popular with the ladies. Discussions were being made underway on what random quotes to have Yuuya say in his low sensual ASMR voice to either fluster or frighten the audience.
Amidst the silliness discussions & the jokes, an unexpected heartfelt moment occurred as she was surprised with a kiss on the nose. I say “kiss” given how this was all through a Discord private message, but nonetheless, it was a small act of affection. One she was quick to reciprocate with a “kiss” of her own, confessing to each other their feelings for one another. It only served to make the stream all the more special as it was their first official one as a couple. The night ended with a successful stream and sweet whispers of “I love you” between the two as they logged off and went to bed.
The story continues further down as they continued to stream, finishing the game alongside another friend. Who went on to adopt the pair as their ‘internet parents’ and joining them on stream. It eventually branched out to ‘Let’s Plays’ growing closer with each game they played. Continuing to this very day.
Video games are special in how they can bring people together. Regardless of the genre, you’re always going to find someone who likes something you do and wants to share more of it with you. Gaming can show you worlds you’d never expect. It can give you new ideas and experiences, help you come out of your shell or even just make the day just that little bit easier. It can even help you find love as I know our story isn’t that unusual. Not too many I’d wager had a connection with such a unique game as Hatoful Boyfriend, but every story is different and special in their own way.
My point being, don’t be afraid to try new things. Give those quirky games a try. Romance those pigeons. Get that pudding. Smash some windows (metaphorically) and share what you love with people you care about. You may just end up finding something you never expected before.