Nothing to report. Here's the short story I wrote for one of my classes - with bonus author's notes!
Sue was lucky. She got to wake up next to the man she loved every single morning. “Good morning, darling,” she whispered, gazing into her lover’s eyes.
Takeshi Sato, singer of Japanese rock band Cold Hearts (and undercover ninja), was silent as Sue beamed at him. His dark eyes stared back, slightly obscured by his long, silver hair. A samurai sword hung from the studded belt around his hips. He held a spiky, red guitar in his gangly arms. Sue sighed, patting her miniature true love affectionately. It was well worth spending that little bit extra for an authentic Takeshi Sato action figure on eBay Japan. Such care was taken to carve Takeshi’s slender yet muscular torso: the thin singlet hanging off his shoulders, and the intricate buckles adorning his pants. No Western toymaker could ever truly capture his delicate, fragile beauty.
Takeshi is based on Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII - a character that turns anime fangirls into rabid, drooling beasts.
Sue stretched her arms as she got out of bed, which was covered with a pretty blue Cold Hearts doona that she bought last year. She moved a large poster flag of Takeshi Sato away from the window, letting the morning light shine in on her bookshelf. In chronological order was her collection of the Cold Hearts manga comics, from Issues 1-50 – except for Issue 49, which was rare. It apparently featured a sex scene, death and an illegal drag race. Anybody lucky to have it cautioned other fans that Issue 50 was not understandable without reading Issue 49. Sue hoped again that somewhere under the piles of discounted manga comics at NihonCon, Issue 49 would be ready for the taking – at any cost. Sue needed it. She’d spent so many years following the story of a young, talented, good-looking musician who constantly battled with bad producers, evil robotic groupies and the ghost of Jim Morrison, all the while trying to lead a normal life as a high school student. She had to know how it all ended.
The Cold Hearts anime calendar featured a bold red circle over tomorrow’s date. Sue eagerly crossed out today’s date. The NihonCon – a convention for fanatics of Japanese pop culture – was one sleep away! Held in the big exhibition hall in the city, NihonCon was a plethora of stalls selling manga comics, anime DVDs, video games and merchandise. Every year, Sue would save up money she earnt from her job at the bookstore to buy all the new Cold Hearts stuff she could find.
There were also competitions at NihonCon. This year, Sue was entering the Cosplay Competition. For the uninitiated, cosplay is the art of dressing up in the costume of a character in pop culture. The more elaborate the costume, the better. She had nearly finished sewing her costume of Midori Osaka, Takeshi’s love interest in the series. Sue couldn’t help but think how remarkably similar they were; Midori and Sue both had blonde hair and blue eyes. If she wasn’t a Year 11 student in Australia, Sue would definitely be a petite, sixteen-year-old Japanese schoolgirl with psychic powers, like Midori.
As well as being a rather pleasant melon flavoured liquer, I got Midori's name from Guitar Hero.
And of course, her true love would be Takeshi Sato. The difference was that Sue was much smarter and mature than Midori; she’d go out with Takeshi in a second, get married, have his silver-haired children…
Sue switched on her stereo, which already had the Cold Hearts Original Soundtrack (in English) in the CD player. She decided to play the album from Track 1, “Shadows of my Soul”:
In the dark night, I bleed
It is your love I need
To bring light to my window
And take away my shadows
I had a H.I.M song stuck in my head when I was writing these lyrics. Go figure. No offence, H.I.M fans.
Sue paused as she poured milk into her cornflakes, letting herself get immersed in the mournful tune. His deep vocals were beautiful, soulful… sexy. Behind that striking voice was a troubled, lonely man with the burden of fighting against the evil organisation, TokyoPopCo. A lonely, devilishly handsome man that needed the love of a kind woman to bring a smile to his face.
The best part about the cosplay competition was that the winner would be awarded a prize by Takeshi himself. Well, not quite – he was the voice actor for his character in the anime. Sue spent hours imagining what he looked like. She came to the conclusion that he looked like – no, he was – Takeshi Sato himself. There was no other alternative in Sue’s mind. Surely, the possessor of that dark, yet beautiful voice could be no one else.
“My soul is a never ending, sha-a-dow,” Sue sang, as she sat down at her computer with her breakfast.
She checked the updates of her favourite websites. The Takeshi Lovers message board was fresh with new questions and arguments. Sue checked for reviews on her 44-chapter fanfiction, Heart of Gold. It was an epic love story between Takeshi and an original character - a fan named Susie. Takeshi was captivated by her beauty; her sparkling, azure ocean eyes were set on creamy porcelain skin, peering out from beneath her long, sunshine-golden hair. He spent his every moment daydreaming about kissing her, even writing lengthy love ballads. It had just gotten to the point where Takeshi had finally asked Susie out on a date.
“I really don’t think Takeshi is the type to fall totally in love with your ridiculous character. Even if she’s thin, busty, blonde and can travel to the astral plane at will,” said user ColdHearted01.
“Shut up,” was Sue’s angry reply. Some people could be so rude.
After checking for updates on the message boards (“What do you think Takeshi’s favourite sushi is?”), Sue sat down to embroider Midori’s school emblem on her blouse.
For what must have been the hundredth time that morning, Sue pulled the elastics out of her hair and fixed them into higher pigtails. Like most anime characters, Midori’s hair defied gravity and logic by having her pigtails pinned to the very top of her head. NihonCon was crowded, as usual; samurais, spiky-haired ninjas, schoolgirls and the odd cyborg were frolicking about the exhibition hall, caught up in the colourful costumes and excitement of meeting other like-minded fans.
As she skipped throughout the stalls, giggling happily at nothing (staying in character, of course), Sue looked out for other Cold Hearts cosplayers – her competition. Cold Hearts had a relatively small fan following; she only saw two other Midori cosplayers and a rather poor attempt at Takeshi. People who look nothing like the character shouldn’t even bother, thought Sue as she saw the Takeshi-wannabe’s big pink ears protruding from his cheap silver wig. The other two Midori cosplayers, Sue noted, would definitely not win the cosplay competition. One of them wasn’t even blonde and the other one… shouldn’t wear short skirts, thought Sue, frowning in disgust.
This guy probably shouldn't cosplay.
She rummaged through several manga stalls in search for the elusive Issue 49. No, still not there. Oh well, maybe there would be some more merchandise for sale. A girl dressed as Sailor Moon growled menacingly as Sue tossed Limited Edition Sailor Moon Action Figures to the side of the stall.
“The Cold Hearts Cosplay competition will begin in ten minutes,” announced a voice over the loud speaker.
Sue dropped a plush toy cat as her stomach lurched. This was it! The moment had finally arrived. She pushed through the crowd towards the stage, flinging shoulders and arms out of the way as she went. Nobody was going to get in the way of meeting her true love.
The competition had already begun by the time Sue arrived at the stage. The nerdy guy dressed as Takeshi had just finished his skit. He brandished a plastic sword as he stared dramatically out into the crowd. A small group in front of the stage applauded wildly. “Thankyou, and that was Jordy, our Takeshi cosplayer,” said the announcer. “And now onto the girls…”
Next up were the two girls dressed as Midori. For the next five minutes, they skipped around the stage to the song “Daggers in my Heart”, occasionally stopping to pose. Sue shut her eyes, blocking out the sight of the ugly Midori cosplayer and concentrated on her skit.
“Our next skit is another Midori cosplayer,” announced a familiar, deep voice that caused Sue to freeze.
Takeshi! He was watching her! There was no time to look for him on the judges’ panel. Sue ran up onto the stage quickly, staring at the floor.
Although the exhibition hall was full of people, all Sue could hear was silence.
The familiar opening guitar riff of “Shadows of my Soul” buzzed out of the cheap stereo. Sue took a deep breath and shakily switched the microphone to ON.
In the dark night, I bleed
It is your love I need
To bring light to my window
And take away my shadows
Sue shut her eyes as she sang, pigtails flying, lost in the passion of the song. The plea for help, the heartbreak, the pain… her pain was Takeshi’s, his was hers, it was all so beautiful…
“Sha-a-a-a-a-do-o-w,” finished Sue, taking a ladylike curtsy and running off the stage.
The previous cosplayers clapped enthusiastically.
“Well, that just about wraps it up for the Cold Hearts cosplay competition,” said one of the judges. “And now we’ll announce the winner…”
Sue clutched the sides of her skirt. She squinted at the judge’s table off to the side of the stage. Where was Takeshi? He must be hiding behind something…
“The winner is our Midori cosplayer, Sue!”
In a daze, Sue made her way over to the judges’ table. This would be it. A comic book voucher and meeting the love of her life.
“Heyyyy!” boomed the deep voice from before. “Congrats, babe!”
Sue slowly looked up. She saw dirty old thongs and camouflage pants. She saw a pot belly strained by a garish Hawaiian shirt with topless hula girls on it. She saw long, scraggly black hairs erupting from underneath the collar. Her eyes met beady black ones, set into a chunk of pink flesh that was almost completely hairless, save for a few patches of missed stubble. He smiled and began to speak.
“Here’s your voucher,” said Takeshi’s voice.
Sue could only stare as the fat, bald, hairy man thrust a $30 comic book voucher into her hand.
“I… I…” Sue’s voice faltered.
“What’s wrong babe?” asked the strange man. “Don’t be intimidated just ‘cause I’m famous.” An unexpectedly high-pitched laugh screamed out of his mouth, causing everyone around him to jump.
“You’re not Takeshi,” muttered Sue wildly, her eyes darting around nervously. “Who are you?”
The man laughed that horrible laugh again. “Of course I’m not Takeshi, silly!” he cried. “I’m Max Sharpe, the voice actor. But hey, I sure sound like him, don’t you think?”
Sue whimpered quietly as Max launched into his own impromptu rendition of “Shadows of my Soul”. He was a good singer. So good, that Sue shut her eyes and opened them again, hoping that the real Takeshi was standing there. He wasn’t.
“No… no…” moaned Sue. “This can’t be happening!”
Clasping her hands to her face, she ran out of the stage area, through the oblivious crowd, and out the door to the street.
She fumbled with her mobile phone, trying to remember the phone number for a taxi. For a second, she caught a glimpse of Takeshi’s face – a sticker on the cover of her phone. Screaming, she peeled it off and ripped it in half.
“Are you okay?” asked a nasally voice from behind her.
It was the Takeshi cosplayer from earlier, Jordy.
“I just wanna go home,” mumbled Sue, jabbing at random numbers on her phone.
“Do you have any way of getting home?”
“No… my mum drove me here this morning but my parents don’t get home for a few hours…” Sue tried calling for a cab again, only to hear hold music. She let out a little scream in frustration.
“Hey, don’t stress,” Jordy patted her arm. “My brother’s picking me up. We can give you a lift home if you want.”
“Oh, no, it’s probably out of the way…”
“Nah, don’t worry about it,” said Jordy. “Just as long as you’re okay.”
Sue wiped away the tears from her eyes. Jordy smiled back, pushing his glasses up his nose.
“So… I can’t believe that big fat guy plays Takeshi,” said Jordy.
Sue laughed, a little too loudly. “I thought he’d look… well, a little like him,” she admitted, blowing her nose.
“He looks like The Big Pink Monster.”
Sue paused, trying to think of who the Big Pink Monster could be. Which issue was it? Which episode was it?
“You know, the one who challenges Takeshi to the drag race?”
“You…” Sue’s eyes widened. “You have Issue 49!”
An old red car pulled up next to them.
“I can lend it to you if you like,” said Jordy, opening the door for her.
Sue got into the car and pulled the elastics out of her pigtails.
She was lucky.
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