Cosplay 4: Ratio (Hamatora)
(Scene changes to the city again. This time, it’s a dystopian Yokohama. Now cosplaying Ratio, Scott has lost depth perception, given a patch over his right eye, and his arms feel heavy. He tries to remove the patch when he’s rudely interrupted. Enter Birthday.)
Birthday: WHOA! What the hell do you think you’re doing there, Scott?
Scott: What? You and I both know that I’m not Ratio. That means I shouldn’t have any of his powers.
Birthday: Yeah, but whatever contraption you had to get here was loaded with some extra add-ons with each of your cosplays. You’re basically the real thing.
Scott: Okay, then tell me. Where’s the real Ratio right now?
Birthday: Oh. He’s waiting over there. (Birthday points toward a car about 50 meters away. A single black glove can be seen from the side window, middle finger raised).
Scott: That’s my Ratio. (smirks)
Birthday: Look, no jokes, no riddles. I’m just gonna tell you straight up.
Birthday: Ratio and I… we’re just partners. We fight crime together. That’s it. I don’t get why the fans love pairing us up all the time for other things.
Scott: Oh… Well of course! (laughs uneasily) Why would anyone ever think that? (Birthday glares back at Scott, then shrugs.)
Birthday: Anyway, I’m supposed to give you some kind of advice, so you can be happy and move on, right?
Scott: Huh? I don’t remember Shiori ever telling me that.
Birthday: (presses Scott up against a wall and slams his palm onto it) Look, this blog? This life of yours? You’re doing it all wrong, man!
Scott: Why? What’s wrong with how I do things now?
Birthday: You need to trust your audience more! Listen to what they have to say. Give them what they want, no matter how dumb it is!
Scott: What? Why? Then I’ll just be like every other anime critic out there! Sure, I’ll have the views, but I’d be miserable, just watching the same shows that everyone else is, just to get attention!
Birthday: (steps away and turns his back on Scott) You really sure that’s how it works? You really are stupid.
Scott: (stands up straight and looks at Birthday, face to face) Enlighten me.
Birthday: (turns his back on Scott again and crouches) Do you even know who your audience is anymore?
Scott: Not really. Why?
Birthday: Why? That’s your problem. You don’t cater to one. You’re so busy, trying to please everyone that you forget what’s really important. You limit your perspective by focusing on too broad of a spectrum. You’re kind of like–
Scott: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of like Ratio that way, right?
Birthday: (turns his head to look at Scott) Who, the guy who loses perspective because he has only one eye? No. I was gonna say you’re just like me! (turns his head back) Ratio’s a medical doctor. He knows how to focus. (fiddles around with his taser) Me? I’m just here to have a good time, and take down some baddies while I’m at it. (puts the taser away) I don’t have a focus. Why else do you think I’m only good for cheesy one-liners?
Scott: Wow. I had no idea you thought of yourself that way.
Birthday: (stands up and turns to face Scott) Really? Well those who make the rest of the world laugh are the ones who suffer the most. It’s the comedian’s paradox, you know?
Scott: Yeah. I understand that.
Birthday: You know the Hamatora Detective Agency? You may think of us as heroes, but we don’t get paid very well. (turns his back on Scott again) We take shitty jobs, work with shitty people, and for what? All to use our minimum powers for something “good?” Sometimes you gotta do shit work to please others, Scott. Only then will you appreciate what really matters in life.
Scott: A life worth living?
Birthday: (looks at Scott again) Hell no! What are you, some kind of philosopher?
Scott: Well, yeah–
Birthday: Nah! (turns his back once more and crouches) What really matters in life are girls! Babes! Waifus! That’s why you’re doing this fan fiction, right?
Scott: Huh? No!
Birthday: Then what are you doing it for?
Scott: Well, for starters, me. (Birthday gazes up at Scott attentively) Lately I’ve been feeling down about myself. Can’t get work, can’t pass simple exams, I’m losing friends, and overall, I just don’t think my voice is being heard anymore. I had to write this. That way, if someone else out there feels the way I do right now… perhaps they can find strength in what I have to say.
Birthday: (ponders some more, then stands up) Well, I guess you really are more like Ratio. He cares so much about others, that he barely has any time to take care of himself. That’s why he’s a medical doctor. I know it’s not easy for him, and that’s why I stay by his side. Stoic as he is, he needs a balance. A foil, if you will. And so do you.
Ratio: (from a radio clipped to Birthday’s shirt) Hey, if you’re done playing around with my double, get your ass back over here! Honey just got a lead!
Birthday: (shrugs) Well, duty calls. We got a yellow rabbit to catch.
Scott: A yellow rabbit? I know who–
Birthday: Forget about it. We’ll take care of it. You need to start taking care of yourself right now. And don’t forget about that audience of yours. They’ll listen. (Birthday runs toward the car and exits)
Scott: No worries. I’m sure I’m headed that way, too.
Cosplay 5: Umetarō Nozaki (Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun)
(Scene changes to a school hallway. Scott’s sight returns, as he straightens up his tie. Enter Chiyo, running.)
Chiyo Sakura: Nozaki-kun! Nozaki-kun! Wait for me!
Scott: Huh? No, you got it all wrong. (Chiyo stops in front of him and catches her breath)
Chiyo: Oh no, I knew it was you. I’m just practicing a scene that’s supposed to happen in a lot of shōjo manga, where the girl has to pursue the guy, you know? I want Nozaki-kun to notice me.
Scott: Well you have my attention now. Have you come to tell me what I’ve been doing wrong too?
Chiyo: Actually, no. I’m here to tell you what you’ve been doing right.
Scott: (pause, suprised) Well that’s new.
Chiyo: You see… you’re kind of like Nozaki-kun when you take interest in stuff that girls like. You understand how characters think and feel, and sometimes play around with them in your reviews. Nozaki-kun does that too, when he’s writing his manga. He observes so many scenes in his own life, and translates them into his amazing work, but…
Chiyo: There’s something you possess that Nozaki-kun doesn’t. At least, not yet, anyway. The thing is, you’re really honest about your feelings. That’s not very common for a guy. But whether or not you believe it, a lot of girls like that kind of thing, you know? I mean, it’s kind of surprising to find out at first, but, we really appreciate it. It makes us feel like someone understands us. Knows what we’re going through.
Scott: I see.
Chiyo: When I found out that my favorite manga artist was really Nozaki-kun, I was shocked too. I’ve wanted to get to know him better because of that. I figured if he could write such a fun story that I could enjoy, then he must really get me! But then when I see him, all he does is imitate romantic scenes, for the sake of his manga. To give him that inspiration, but never get the satisfaction that comes from truly falling in love. But you? I think you do understand. And that’s what… that’s what I really wanted to say to you. (Chiyo and Scott stare at each other awkwardly. Then Chiyo blushes and acts more flustered) P-p-please don’t get the wrong idea! I know I’m still only 16.5 and you’re xx!
Scott: Damn it! People really do use that age reference! Seriously, this community is weird!
Chiyo: Well… I said what I had to say. I guess… that’s that. (Chiyo wiggles around nervously, as if she’s about to burst into tears. Scott pats her on the head.)
Scott: You’re a good kid, Sakura. I’m sure one of these days, Nozaki will open up to you. Just be prepared for when he says it, and listen. But perhaps, you already do a good job of that.
Chiyo: Aw, that’s so sweet.
Scott: Oh, and before I forget. I have something for you.
Chiyo: Really? What’s that? (Scott takes out an autograph signing board and a felt tip pen. He writes out his signature and hands it to Chiyo.) Wha. Wha. WHA–
Scott: Just think. If I ever become famous, that’ll be super valuable. Maybe.
Chiyo: (turns bright red, as steam comes out of her ears) WHY!!! YOU’RE SUCH AN IDIOT!!!! (Exit Chiyo, with a whirl of emotions)
Scott: All right. One more to go.
Cosplay 6: Gunzō Chihaya (Arpeggio of Blue Steel)
(Scene appears to be inside a submarine captain’s deck. Scott sits in a chair as the Captain, noticing that only one crew member is around… in teddy bear form. Enter Kirishima.)
Kirishima: Well, if it isn’t the anime critic who’s been causing a storm lately, over breaking his waifus’ hearts.
Scott: I’m sorry, okay? There’s too many, so I had to get rid of them.
Kirishima: Yeah, I know. Some of them are really annoying, that’s for sure.
Scott: Kirishima, I get that Gunzō has an entire harem fleet of mental models, and don’t get me wrong, I still think you’re the best. But tell me, why are you in the teddy bear form?
Kirishima: Oh come on, Scott. If I were in my human form, I’d be too sexy, even for you. And besides…
BOTH: (Scott says it monotonously, while Kirishima says it enthusiastically) Bears are awesome.
Scott: Man, I really need to start coming up with better catch phrases. Anyway, how did you manage to get away from the others? Aren’t you always playing with that kid?
Kirishima: Who, Makie? I’ve got Haruna covering for me in the sleeping quarters. She’s watching over her. Also, I think there’s some ghost girl with them, eating pudding.
Scott: Oh good.
Kirishima: Regardless, I just have one thing to ask you.
Scott: Go on.
Kirishima: Why do you care so much about what other people think about you?
Scott: What are you talking about?
Kirishima: There was once a time when you were like Captain Chihaya. Cool. Suave. Charming–
Scott: Those are all essentially the same thing.
Kirishima: (shocked) Anyway, he didn’t care what other people thought of him. That’s why he left the Naval Academy, went rogue, and joined forces with the traitor of the Fog, I-401. He would have been the typical rebellious type, except that he was also extremely rational, and turned out to be an excellent strategist, if I do say so myself.
Scott: Yeah, he got you and Haruna good that one time. (chuckles)
Kirishima: Don’t remind me. (pause) The truth is, you used to be like that too. But then you started to get in tune with your feelings more, and added emotion to your already logical reviews. Sure, it made your writing more interesting, but having such skills comes with a double-edged sword.
Scott: Oh really?
Kirishima: You started to care too much! You got far too invested. And eventually, you started to see your criticism as work rather than play. And for what? Because a few trolls told you that you had to start talking about things their way? Are you really gonna let them walk all over you like that!?
Scott: Well no–
Kirishima: Then WHY DO YOU CARE ABOUT THEM!? (Scott groans and sulks in his chair) You don’t have a reason, do you?
Scott: Not when you’re trying to force an answer out of me.
Kirishima: Just look at me for a minute. (Scott obliges) When my hull was destroyed and I couldn’t get my mental model back, I was placed in this stuffed toy. I hated it at first. I thought, “who would ever take me seriously again?” I hated myself, because that’s how others would have seen me! But you know what? I was wrong. That kid Makie adores me. And Haruna still looks out for me whenever she can. And Gunzō… Gunzō…
Scott: What about him?
Kirishima: It’s nothing. He’s a really good captain, you know? Anyway, I started to like my new form. I loved myself again. And do you know why?
Scott: (pauses, as he ponders) Not really.
Kirishima: (pauses) Because I found someone to care about. I found someone worth a damn to me. And protect her at all costs. She loves me for who I am, especially in this bear form. She makes me feel… feel…
Kirishima: Like I’m not a monster. When I was part of the Fog, all I ever did was follow orders. I killed hundreds. Thousands of innocent people. And I didn’t feel a single thing for any of them. But now, I care for her, because she cares for me. One last hope for me to find redemption for this forsaken existence. And to me, a mental model that was never meant to have emotions, that’s Love. (Scott and Kirishima continue to dive stealthily with no purpose, gliding along the ocean floor aimlessly) Scott, find some one, some thing to care about. It can be more than one thing. And damn the rest. That’s what I would have done, that’s what Gunzō would have done. And so should you.
Scott: You got it. And thanks. You know, bears really are awesome.
Kirishima: Indeed they are. (The submarine is about ready to surface, when Scott decides to change the subject)
Scott: All right, enough small talk, Kirishima. Where’s Iona? (Kirishima is shocked) Everyone knows that Gunzō’s true love is Iona. That would make them the OTP.
Kirishima: So? This is your fan fiction. It doesn’t have to be canon.
Scott: Yeah, but I never declared any waifus from this series, so whoever everyone else ships becomes the default OTP. That’s how fandom works! But Iona’s not here. (Scott stares intently at Kirishima) Is she?
Kirishima: (flustered) Ah… I don’t know what you’re talking about. Surely this ship couldn’t operate without her on board, right?
Scott: Right… but she’s not on deck here! In fact, no one on the Blue Steel crew is here but us! And I’m starting to doubt that Haruna and Makie are here either!
Kirishima: Just what are you trying to say? (Scott impatiently pulls out the Trigger device.)
Scott: This. This is how I’ve been able to change into all my cosplays so quickly. I’m using this in the middle of a virtual training room operated by Shiori from World Trigger. Everything up to this point has been an illusion, hasn’t it?
Kirishima: Well, yes, but all the conversations you’ve had have felt real, weren’t they?
Scott: Well yeah…
Kirishima: Then there’s nothing to worry about. You win. You’ve brought closure to all your waifus and hasbandos.
Scott: No. There’s still one left.
Scott: I know he’s behind all this. He’s been pulling the strings this whole time. He’s the mysterious villain of the fan fiction. You’ve worked with him before, haven’t you?
Kirishima: I don’t know what you’re talking about!
Scott: (picks up Kirishima and brings her closer to his face) Where’s Wooser? (Exit Kirishima, perplexed)
(The scene dissolves, as Scott changes back to his regular clothes. He’s no longer in the training room, but in an open field, with nothing else to be seen in any direction.)
Scott: All right, give it up! I know you’re here, watching me, haunting me. You’re a hack! A coward! Show yourself!
(A maniacal laugh echoes from above. A large airship with several of the past waifus are on board, staring down at Scott in cold disgust. Enter Wooser.)
Wooser: Girls. Meat. Money. Uniforms. (Wooser laughs maniacally some more, as he lands before Scott) Have you made your decision, True Lystria? Who is your last waifu standing?
Scott: I have. But I have to tell you something first.
Wooser: Really? And what’s that?
Scott: Something I should’ve told you a long time ago, back when we wrote that review together. My honest thoughts about your show. (to be continued)