Chapter 18:


VISUAL SHOCK - sometimes you have to promise not to fall in love~

I’m honestly feeling a bit mopey about Kaori not knowing who Deadmen are…

We’ve been on the same page with so much, that it’s a little devastating to have finally hit a bump.

“Ok, no worries. I might still go. Can’t be your arm candy all the time!”

Kaori splutters on some rice. Coughing and hacking longer than expected.

“You ok?”

“Id wend ub my node…”

Her tongue lolls out for a moment as she pulls an uncomfortable expression.

I have to fight it…



“You laugh… you die…”

Deep breaths, come on, you can do this…

It takes a concerted effort of the will, but I manage to force the impulse down.

“So, if you’re not bothered about the gig, how about we go out to Chiba at the weekend? I really wanna go to the H.naruto Studio… it’s like my actual holy land. I could have sworn they had a few stores, like in LaForest, but maybe they’ve downsized to just the one.”

Kaori gets sheepish.

Not something you see often.

“You… They…” trailing off repeatedly, “I can’t… not this weekend.”


Why do I feel like I’m being rejected?!.

Hey, it’s inevitable, we’re not joined at the hip. Even if we were dating or something, we’d still have lives outside each other. Maybe it’s family or work or… it doesn’t matter what.

“Ahh… don’t worry about it. I’ll find something to do myself. There are some CDs I know I can get cheaper in person than on YooHoo, so I might just go hit up some stores. Want me to make anything when you get back, or should we eat out?”

She gets even more reserved.

What’s with her tonight?

“I won’t be coming back, not until Sunday night, so… uh, sorry.”

Is that all?

Well… whatever.

It’ll be good to make sure we don’t end up codependent. Time apart makes the heart grow fonder… stop that!

“Aww… well, I guess I’ll have to treat myself to some IchiNudo and keep myself out of trouble. Don’t miss me too much!”

Kaori’s tension lessens, my jokes putting her at ease.

“Same to you, a-na-ta~

It’s my turn to choke on a mouthful…

She doesn’t afford me the same dignity of at least trying not to laugh.


I asked around to see if any of the other international students were interested in going out, but to no avail.

That guy, err… Shayne? Really fashionable, kept talking about how all the clothing stores are the same now, selling each other’s brands rather than being dedicated outlets…

“There’s no point since they closed Shibuya MEN’s… there’s only like 8 clothes shops in whatever they’re calling it now.”

I tried to reassure him that there’s more out there, but he admitted he alread had plans.

I remembered that a couple of the weebs were really hype about the Lonely Rock soundtrack, so suggested we go some music shopping!

“We’re going to Akiba, of course. You could come with us?”

“Yeah, Tyler, join us…”

The line completed in my head “it’s bliss”, so I politely made excuses about not wanting to get in the way of their plans with mine

“Maybe another time, ok?”

It was a little too obvious they were angling for a maid café trip and I… just… no…

Well… even if I’m out on my own, things won’t be as bad as they were. I know my way around now, and I have ramen to indulge in!

Now, I know IchiNudo gets mid reviews compared to independent places and smaller chains, but of course it will, it’s a national franchise.

However, it’s also an easy win for tourists, and a solid bowl of ramen, even if it isn’t anything super special.

If something is good, it’s just good, alright!

The only problem after a big bowl of soup and noodles - extra everything - is that you end up with a food coma, so the rest of your plans better be limited.

That’s why I only have one more place to hit up in Shibuya before heading home, and it’s a record store I’ve heard gets some real rarities.

Low ceilings, wood and brick, well-worn.

Everything rock, punk, and metal.

NERD is the right word for it.

While browsing, they change out one album for another, switching from CD to vinyl on this big old hi-fi.

Makes me feel at home.

Even though my dad didn’t really like what I was listening to, he was happy I got into music.

We had a huge collection of tapes, records, and CDs growing up. Basically, everything that made the late 60’s to early 90’s great for my parent’s generation.

A lot of it’s too dated for me, but I appreciated seeing original pressings of Ace Of Hearts, the entire discography of The Cops, or weird obscure stuff like Osbert’s Tentacles.

He let me put my stuff on his home brew set up.

The best amp, turntable, CD player, tape deck, and speakers he could source from over the years. Different brands and decades, all represented in one Frankenstein machine.

It had a hell of a sound and made my imports sing like they could nowhere else.

A lump catches in my throat… guess I’m a little homesick.

Anyway, I think dad would like it here.

I pick up a couple of PACT’s indie releases - just one more to go - but I’ve been struggling to find You In Grey’s EPs.

I’ve got all their albums, but Missy and Rokugly always elude me.

A track comes on that shakes the place.

I look round to see the store is empty except for me and the clerk. Guess she thought it’d be safe to put something heavier on now it’s late.

I’m decked out in all black Ozone - I’ve really been getting into their stuff - nothing but netting and safety pins, so I must look about right for deathcore.

“It can’t be…”

…that kinda sounds like Yoma singing. Well, his screams and growls, anyway. The music is some sorta blend between their latter eras, a little more metal, maybe. That missing link I always thought they needed…

“…excuse me?”

I get the attention of the girl behind the counter. She’s in some simple but classy kurofuku - crow tribe represent - and has just been bopping along the entire time.

“What’s up?”

Oh, English!

Not as proficient as Kaori, but I think she’d score higher than me on an English test anyway, but still really good.

“Is this You In Grey? I don’t recognise the song, have they released a new album?”

She stares through me like I’m speaking in tongues.

“Who’s You In Grey?”


A band I’d have put up there with Z Japan or Malicious Mister in terms of notoriety and… SHE HASN’T A CLUE!!!

“Wait, are they that old emo band?”


She’s not joking, either!

That’s a completely sincere question.

I feel like I’m having an aneurysm.

“I… uh…” cannot articulate a response through the mess of emotions and screaming in my skull.

Alarm bells and siren blare away; my adrenaline peaks.

Fight or flight activated.

“…just these please.”

I don’t even try to detangle my thoughts and enquire further. I just want to pay and get out.

She twists her face for a moment and rings me up.

I can barely mumble a thank you as she hands me the bag.

I’m almost out the door as she calls after me.


I can never go back there.

It’s early Saturday evening, so there’s a lot of people about, the odd group or individual catching my eye while I worm my way back to the station.

A lot more decora and ganguro, colourful and vibrant, and somehow surviving and thriving where visual kei has withered and wilted.

As I flit passed more alleyways, nearly back on the main road, I spot someone that could have walked out of a 90’s music video.

I had just been lamenting a lack of that super classic style and there’s one live, in the flesh, massive hair and all!!!

Turning back, I pick up my pace to…


She’d already gone in the morning by the time I was up, so I didn’t see her dressed for the day.

Her features still recognisable through the thick theatre make up, like MAYA or KOJI in their prime.

Several guys, all crowded around, ushering her down the street.

I nearly rush in to make sure she’s ok, but she smiles at someone’s comment and… actually seems to be happy.

Not stressed, not reserved or evasive, but… excited!

Kaori and a couple of the guys have suitcases… is she in a band?

They stop in front of a building, then make their way inside.

Nosiness gets the better of me.

I plug the name into Gobble on my phone, hoping to secretly support my friend by buying a ticket for their gig…


“She can’t be…”

…can she?!.

MyAnimeList iconMyAnimeList icon