Inaba - Junes Dept. Store
Every day is great at your Junes! o/~ This jingle is one reason why Junes is so prominent within Inaba. Just one store in a major department store chain, Junes offers many different products at unbeatable prices, from simple groceries to comfortable furniture and even an expansive electronics department, the latter of which has been proven very popular by some of the teenage crowd lately.
The department store is so massive that the elevator is the preferred method in which to go anywhere around the place, with different floors for different departments within it. Although the goods are varied enough that each may as well be their own store, at least several things are constant: the bright and cheery colors, the frequent announcement of some special deal or another going on, and most importantly, the endless looping elevator music of the theme song that can even rival Satomi Tadashi's for sheer catchiness.
Customer Appreciation Day is said to be every day at Junes, but this sure doesn't seem to show with the majority of its employees... especially the part-timers. Lazy, rude, and prone to complaining about their salary, they are not pleasant people. Even so, that hasn't been enough to drive the customers away.
"At Junes, every day is Customer Appreciation Day. Don't forget, Junes loves you. Junes thinks you're pretty great! Don't you love Junes? Because Junes loves you. You wouldn't want to break Junes' heart, would you?"
Shiki Ichimonji, his small frame partially concealed by an open newspaper with eyeholes cut into it, looks up at the speakers that blared out that last message. Were they that way last time he came...?
Still, he reminds himself, that shouldn't distract him from what he came here for! Namely, research the market habits of buyers of the Shounen Super magazine! This is why he's standing there, perfectly inconspicuous, by the magazine racks. ...Now, if only someone came by. He's been standing around for like ten minutes, now!
Suddenly, he tenses up. His hero sense is tingling! Could it be that someone is approaching?!
Everyday is great at your Junes! It must be great enough, Fumiya comes to spend enough time here. For a small town Inaba does have its share of hangouts, but Fumiya enjoys Junes despite, perhaps because of, its artificiality. It reminds him of the big(ger) city.
Coming down from the food court, Fumiya passes by a display of televisions and stops idly. For a second it looked like red static before he approached, but when he looks into it the TV comes to life again. He leans in to take a closer look at the screen.
"Here comes Tanakaaaaaa! Over the airwaves to yooooouuuuuu!"
Gah! Fumiya almost jumps back after getting a faceful of smarmy telemarketer grin when Tanaka's face appeared on the screen so suddenly. Quickly walking away from the most irritatingly catchy song in the world, he makes a pit stop at the magazine stand. He may be a walking neon factory, but even Fumiya feels the need to cleanse his eyes from time to time. Maybe leafing through one of those silly shonen magazines for a minute or two will help him forget that face.
Yes! Someone's coming! Someone's-- blinding Shiki! Gah! He shifts the newspaper slightly, while the trauma on his retinas heals. What was that all about? It seemed like a sudden flash of... neon.
Meanwhile, hopefully Fumiya will not notice that the newspaper Shiki is holding has on its cover the terrifying mug of President Tanaka, who has recently been elected "Most Handsome TV Personality", which made it on the news somehow. His smile... it's terrifying!
Having stopped seeing spots, Shiki moves over a bit, trying to cover as many racks as he can that don't have those "silly shonen magazines" on display.
Thus, from his inconspicuous position (Who would suspect a tiny guy with spiky red hair poking over a newspaper would be up to anything fishy?), Shiki staaaaares. Hopefully that guy will not notice that the eyes on the newspaper are moving, instead of trying to hypnotize him into buying slim-fast food without a SINGLE TRACE of uranium.
The magazines offer the typical fare that Fumiya has found in most of these stories. Schoolgirl with a large chest, schoolgirl with a large chest, musclebound guy shooting lasers inexplicably, transforming robots, oddly shaped alien villain, oddly shaped alien villainess with a large chest....
Eh. Closing the magazine Fumiya returns it to its place. He could just never get into manga like his classmates did. Then again, his tastes are anything but normal.
Turning around to head back into the main mall he finds himself face to face with... TV's Tanaka once again. Gah! He doesn't jump back this time, but he IS startled, until he realizes it's just an image on a newspaper that some guy is holding rather close to his face. Is that slimy grin everywhere? Is he being haunted by the sleazy corporate face of Takana's Amazing Commodities?
He seems a bit too dumbfounded by the coincidence to move out of the way, as if Tanaka's inked image will fly off the paper the second he moves, like a predator waiting to strike.
Curses! What could have possibly gone wrong? Surely, picking up this magazine, that neon guy should have seen the greatness that is CAPTAIN REBELLION(tm), and bought it immediately, right? This is not a good pattern. (Shut up, one is a pattern!) There is only one way to find out more about this!
"Hey, you!" Tanaka speaks. The newspaper is lowered, freeing Fumiya from the telemarketer's grasp at least for now. Instead, he's stared at by a wannabe manga protagonist. Gah! "What makes you think you can just glance at a shounen magazine and put it down like that?!"
Quickly, a copy of Shounen Super is snatched, and thrusted in front of the neon night rider's face, pages turned as Shiki speaks. "Can't you see the appeal of such humor!" A splash page of a Jack Frost with a huge afro, dancing in front of a psychedelic background while a schoolgirl with a large chest. "And romance!" A schoolgirl with a large chest, unsuccessfully trying to cover a panty shot. "And ACTION!" A catfight between a lightly-dressed teenage girl with a large chest and some kind of collectible seizure cat monster.
Shiki turns the magazine to him, eyeing the last page. "Hm, okay, maybe that chapter didn't really have so much action..."
Fumiya takes a few steps back as he's accosted by some sort of cosplayer. The 80s kid briefly forgets the absurdity of his own outfit and wonders aloud "...what are you wearing?"
Shiki's flurry of questions very nearly confound Fumiya to the point where he almost drops his act, but he manages to recover until he's finally able to get a word in edgewise. "Hey hey, bro, lighten up." He sighs. "It's just some manga. It's all the same anyway, I can go pick up a dozen copies just like it anywhere else. Where's the fun in that?" Fumiya straightens his collar in an exaggerated motion, finally getting his groove back. "I'm into more radical stuff, not the same old humdrum, you got me?"
Shiki takes a moment to look at his choice of clothes. What's wrong with them? All he sees is a healthy dose of AWESOME. Then he looks back to Fumiya, burning his retinas again. "What are YOU wearing?!" Ah, the perfect comeback!
But the words he say... the words he say... they insult the very soul of manga!! ...or at least, the words Shiki can understand. What's he saying? Could he be... some kind of foreigner?! That would explain everything! The clothes, the weird language, everything! And most of all, the fact that anyone of japanese descent could NOT care about manga!
Shiki clears his throat, crossing his arms and beginning to talk more slowly. (That guy did look confused by what he was saying earlier, after all.) Not that it makes much of a difference, as he's usually a pretty enthusiastic speaker, and toning it down a bit merely makes him seem sane. "All right, then, if you're so great and you like... ladle stuff, what is it that... you people like, then?"
That's right, he said ladle.
The two odd teenagers seem to be stuck in a back and forth that doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to random passers by, and only barely does to them as well. The two of them together might form some sort of sanity black hole. Shoppers start to avoid the area in question without even getting in earshot of what's being said, just by some form of self-preservation instinct.
As Shiki goes on to elaborate on how awesome manga is, Fumiya very slowly lowers his sunglasses to get a better look at the manga artist, revealing that no, he's not a foriegner. "Ladle? What are you going on about, bro? You're making no sense, it's not cool."
Adjusting his sunglasses back to their natural position with his finger, Fumiya takes a closer look at Shiki. He must be some sort of insane manga enthusiast. That's fine, he can appreciate taking your hobbies to an extreme. But he doesn't like it being shoved in his face like this. He likes to be the one doing the shoving.
"Manga's manga, man. I'd rather spend my days living the awesome life myself than read about a bunch of muscleheads thinking they're as tough as Mr. T." Fumiya asserts, folding his arms, and nodding once like a white rapper doing the very last take of his music video.
Oh! Okay, it's established, Fumiya is not foreign, he's just crazy. But who needs normalcy in this strange world, anyway?
Shiki looks thoughtful for a moment, as the other boy says something about living the "awesome life" himself. There might be some wisdom in this guy's words. After all, in a sense, this is a lot like what Shiki's doing right now! And then, an unfamiliar name is dropped, prompting the Shounen Boy to raise an eyebrow. "Mister... T?"
Shiki is much more puzzled than he really ought to be by what was just said. Who could be even tougher than manga heroes throughout history? Heroes who can swing around swords twice as big as they are! Who can tear apart tanks with their bare hands! Who can fire from their hands ki blasts that can level cities! Could there be a hero even greater than them, who could be the ultimate source of inspiration in musculine toughness?! Some sort of... inhuman ubermensch?!?!
Shiki tries his best to look cool about all this, even though it's visible than what Fumiya just said upset him... somehow. "Hmm... Tell me more about this... Mr. T."
Fumiya blinks at the sudden shift in the conversation. Shiki has gone from talking about manga, to being genuinely interested in Mr. T? Well, Fumiya doesn't mind filling someone in, he loves getting a chance to use his useless trivia.
"You don't know about Mr. T?" He asks. "He is a great American hero!" He states with all the confidence to make anyone assume he really believes what he just said. "He has been known to send people flying 'helluva far' with a single punch. He encourages kids not to do drugs, stay in school, and drink their milk. He went face to face with the greatest boxer in the world, The Rocky. He even once acted as a body guard for the great Michael Jackson. He is a man of great sacrifice, giving up his beloved golden chains to help the poor, the same chains which gave him the strength to fight evil doers. Most importantly..." Fumiya pauses for dramatic effect.
"Mr. T is real."
Granted most of everything Fumiya just said is probably total baloney. Some of the stuff he fudges purposefully, some he actually thinks he has right but doesn't.
Shiki listens intently, eyes lighting up a bit more with each new Mr. T fact. The last, however, knocks the breath out of him! This "Superman" he has heard of has nothing on this!
"So you're saying..." He takes a deep breath, as if he was about to say something of monumental importance. "...that Mr. T is America's greatest hero, who can knock people into orbit with a single punch, who singlehandedly destroyed every drug ring in America, who became undisputed Super Heavyweight boxing champion of the world, who was Michael Jackson's private one-man army, who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up the source of his power to help people, AND HE'S REAL?!"
He pauses, once more, for breath. He looks at Fumiya, with a look of understanding that transcends time and space, stupid hobby and... other stupid hobby. Surely, the two must have come to the same conclusion. It's so simple, so obvious!
"Someone must make a manga about Mr. T."
Shiki's enthusiastic response to Fumiya's totally factual list of Mr. T's credentials brings a smile to his face. He has to try hard to make sure it doesn't go beyond that though. At the end of the artist's long-winded question Fumiya is only able to respond with one word to keep himself from cracking up.
Clearing his throat he regains his composure. "But, keep in mind that Mr. T is very modest, as you might suspect! This is why there are no great stories told about this mohawked warrior." Or mohawked night elf, going by his latest commercials.
Fumiya nods. "Perhaps someone should. Hey, maybe you can someday, bro." He suggests, having no idea of how much what he just said was a bad idea.
Shiki nods at the comment about Mr. T's modesty. Of course! That makes sense, coming from such a virtuous warrior. Surely, though, someone must know more... Maybe... Maybe the Internet can tell Shiki more totally factual tales of his conquests! He nods sagely. First thing to do once he gets home.
Fumiya's suggestion registers very slowly in Shiki's mind. ...of course... of course... why didn't he think of that? He does already have a manga published (which is much more than the vast majority of high schoolers can claim, but.), but maybe he can start to polish the concept already? Yes, yes! The ideas, rushing to his head already! "YES!" A sudden shout, proving that people were right to stay away from those two weirdos. "I, Shiki Ichimonji, dynamic manga superstar, shall turn this dream into reality!" Heroically, he poses in front of the guy who just gave him the greatest inspiration ever. Sudden flashy background! That... works as an introduction!
Then, the background fades out, and the iconic Junes musak resumes as people continue milling about behind the two. "Oh, yeah, that's right... I was doing market research." Shiki explains this aloud, even though Fumiya might not quite understand. "I know it's sudden, but could you leave? You're sort of blowing my cover."
...Gah! Tanaka's back now!
So it starts with Tanaka, and ends with Tanaka. How disturbingly appropriate. Brushing off the soulless stare of the picture of teh possibly soulless executive, Fumiya is left to wonder about what Shiki just said. Manga superstar? Maybe it's just a fantasy he created for himself? That's not all that unusual. But hey, it's likely Shiki will remember this encounter, by the way he's acting, so that's good enough for Fumiya.
Being brushed aside kind of annoys him, though, even though he's not all that sure he wants to spend more time talking to the manga-nut. "Yeah, cool." He says, unsure. "You do what you're doing there, bro." He says, and begins to walk away. Though something strikes him before he's turned away completely. Shiki just announced his name, rather loudly, but Fumiya never did introduce himself. He can't be that rude. Besides, Shiki needs to know just who it was that introduced him to the glory of T.
"The name's Fumiya Watanabe, by the way. I'll see you around, Ichimonji." Probably. He's not even sure where this guy came from, but they'll probably meet again someday.