Middle-aged immigrant woman, dressed like a cartoon refuge - heavy black coat, mittens, grandma’s gray knitted scarf eclipsing her lower face - standing on the corner just across from East Exit.
Yeah. Shinjuku. Again.
Holding a green and red sign, wider than she is, advertising a pizza place in the basement of the Zara boutique. Above her, a photo mural: two delightful white people in repose, hands held to show off matching dazzling diamond bracelets.
EPSY has been hiring mostly foreigners these days, weird for an organization right wing, so traditionally. You are right in sensing a plot afoot. According to the babushka’s sign, the sauce on the pizza and pasta is made with “Majitsu Tomatoes,” modified so as not to stain your clothes with troublesome hard-to-wash-out red spots. This sort of thing really matters nowadays, ever since the price of ESPY-funded designer clothing has gone up sharply. They think of everything these days, those evil, but admirable, minds locked in unit-thought. And of course, there’s never a money trail for the robo keiji to catch. The mud people they employ. I bet they pay her off with jars of the stuff, polymer tomato paste, and it soon pours into hungry mouths in a Shin Okubo alley flat.
Now, absurd Mother Winter begins to shift from foot to foot, gently banging herself in the forehead with the pizza signpost. The first blow is for boredom, the second comes from animal frustration. Gal du jour walks out of the Kawano Umomo store across the street. I put down my salad and turn into a Tex Avery wolf. She's a pink leopard print waistcoat, vertigo skirt, Momo Ranger boots barely tapping the ass-fault beneath. Onna bakuha. It’s not that the men are weak here, which is the common complaint, and given the dandies and otaku, fair enough. It’s the girls who are way too strong for anyone but themselves.
Earlier or later. I’m in the café Kateru in Kichijoji going over some pictures from the Gyaku-ESPY bowling party. 650 yen a game. Matching pairs of Kabuki-cho hosts and hostesses surround us in genuine blue and white Brunswick bowling shoes. The usual ashtray smell is briefly masked by the aerosol blasts of the deodorant-cleanser. If only they had a Wrestlemania coin-op...
In the café: just me and waitress Yuka-chan (bit of a hippie, short with sharp features), who is currently addicted to a ski-jump game for the PS2. Last week, she favored the one with the dolphin and giant crystals; a new breed of hard to fathom female gamer. The kind that’s content to merely watch. When there are no customers but me, she sits in the corner staring at the loop of CGI people free falling and tumble.
Then: big meaty yakuza enters stage-front, more blue and white jogging suit than. Yuka-chan jumps up and becomes the pla-model maid of service. He’s barely in the wooden bench a Shimorenjaku minute before he’s on the sidewalk again, talking rough stuff into his cell phone. The ‘Engrish’ on the back of his jacket is a super-dimensional howler: “Dedicated to those with an individual personality like yours.”
I’m guessing that’s supposed to be stealth mode for a gangster.
A few minutes later, in slithers a businessman, stuffed into a skeletal tan suit. We sense seriously deep G.O.D. (Government of Darkness) connections on him. It’s in the way the barcode pattern on top of his head reads. Long, short, short, long. So this will be a meeting, then: to be classified under the most menacing of categories: urashakai.
The bad guys order some matching caramel lattes. Predictably, the yakuza is finicky with his caramel to milk content and begins badgering poor old Yuka, who has been trying to hide in the back slicing cabbage.
Seems there’s a major market not being catered to in the music biz: Yaki-imo carts (ala The Ice Cream Man, only if he dealt in baked potatoes, had his own theme song, sung by a toothless child). They have them everywhere: in Shibuya, at the entrance of the park, in front of the station.
The idea is to replace the traditional song typically broadcast from the loudspeaker on the carts exclusively with G.O.D. backed artists (boy bands mostly, malnourished hip-hop, with only one winner in the whole bunch: a sort-of Pink Lady tailored for the Taishomei-era called The Cookies).
The problem is, the yakuza has been given a disc of various MP3 samples, and something is wrong.
“I put it in the DVD player, and nothing happened, nothing” he complains, caramel syrup sticking to the roof of his mouth.
“It’s not that kind of DVD,” the suit explains bitterly, like he’s talking to a 'tard. One he might have fathered. “You need to put it in a computer.”
“Then open up the files and listen to the music.”
“Look, I don’t have a computer that can play DVDs. I run a bunch of fucking yaki-imo carts. Why would I have something like that? Just give me some CDs. Unless you guys want to buy a fucking computer for every single cart so they can play your fucking DVDs, then that’s what we’re going to use anyways…”
While they work it out, amidst more cell phone calls (including one that places an order for 30,000 blank discs), and the sound of Yuka pounding away on a chopping block, I fiddle with notes for the novel for real…
A Golan-Globus dedication. Honda-san turns out to be Koga ninja with Bu-chan as his faithful animal familiar: Nyan-Mage. The iPod shuffle doubles as a throwing knife that never misses its mark. The coffee thermos contains secret scrolls: recipes for ninja tricks and sex magic. Then Honda-san sends over a message over from Mixi on the implant frequency 109khz. “If you write something like that, I’ll lose all respect for you.”
Ok, then…all change.
Kamen Easy Rider.
Evil organization Shocker, formed (as all schoolchildren know) from a remnant of Japan-German Axis collaboration, was the great and hidden hand behind the rise of the bubble economy…and man, was it ever great. Now, with a recession that refuses to end, they decide that what Japan really needs now are cyborg salarymen who can work harder than normal humans and thus, revive the nation’s economy.
For a test subject, they kidnap a bosozoku biker named Shin Takeda, and perform experimental surgery on him, naked except for his leather jacket. But before they can put the restraining silver cufflinks on him, Shin escapes from the laboratory, which doubles as a Denny’s, and hits the road on his hot steel hog.
Shin really has no place to go, but he figures he should maybe get around to delivering a rare soft-vinyl toy worth a billion yen to a collector in Hokkaido (who’s too nervous to have it mailed, in spite of the fact that Japan has the best postal service in the world). It’s not much of a plan, as plans go, but Shin’s cut of the deal would be enough to be able to open a freeway rest stop along with a ‘Rabbit Land’ petting zoo there, which would be kind of cool…
A long road filled with enemy kaijin sent by Shocker. If Shin won’t play the game, then he’s going to get the whammie.
First, he’s lured into a “Free Love Hotel” near Saitama, where he meets a hot chick who’s easy and up for it. 7 minutes and 10ccs later, he finds out she’s actually Shocker agent Winnona Kamen Ryder, sent to kill him. And the plan might have worked if only he didn’t punch a hole in her lower extremities, which causes her to have a mini-nuclear meltdown.
Next on the dance card is Ramen Rider, part of a plan to infest the world with Japanese cooking shows in the wake of Iron Chef becoming a big international hit. His theme is Born to Be Wild, but with the opening line changed from “Get your motor running,” to “Itsu mo ramen.”
He has been created to eat up all the ramen in Hokkaido, and his left eye doubles as a digital camera so he can film all the action as it goes down, robbing Japan of one of it’s national treasures in a cheap bid to get some foreign sales. Good for him, but our hero, Kamen Easy Rider, prevails in the butt-kicking contest.
(Something here about Kamen Easy Reader, played by Morgan Freeman, but then I figure, fuck it.)
Shin heads back out on that road, and he’s almost made it to Hokkaido when some Inaka driving a decora truck blows his head off with a shotgun. Cue Ohtaki Eiichi’s The Ballad of Kamen Easy Rider.
Everyone has some taco rice and about 27 beers. And when they get to the station, they inexplicably feel like picking up a yaki-imo and half a dozen CDs the next day.