Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mugen Shinshi and Neji Otoko

At the back of the Mugen Shinshi collection, there's a little 6-page illustrated short story entitled "Gentleman Mugen and Neji Otoko". It's a funny romp and I found myself being able to understand 80% of the story and 60% of the kanji. So, maybe some of my nihon-go studies are paying off. Either that, or stories aimed at kids use real simple language that even I can piece together. I decided to translate it to see if I can generate some interest in you to buy the "Mugen" books as imports. I do recommend them.

All rights belong to their owners. This translation may not be reprinted without my permission. (c) 2010, Curtis Hoffmann. This translation is for review purposes only. If you like the story, buy the book!

I put this story, with the illustrations, on tsoj.manga.org.

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Gentleman Mugen and Neji Otoko

All you good little children, have you heard of the mysterious Neji Otoko? (Literally "screw man", but it may be better to call him "The Wind-up Man"). Right now, the Japanese police have still not been able to capture him, and desperately patrol day and night to find him. That's right, he is a truly terrifying criminal. Well, what has he done? Robbery? Fraud? Theft? Murder? No, nothing that mundane. He's much different from that. He kidnaps people - the rich, beautiful actresses and the like - and sweeps them to his hideout where he performs surgery on them. And then... oh, this is just too horrible! After remodeling them, he places a big wind-up screw in their backs, turning them into Neji People. They are then under his complete command. They exist solely for him, and are nothing more than his puppets.

Essentially, soulless dolls. Toys unable to do anything unless they are wound up and given his commands. Ah, Neji Otoko - a demon manipulating the self-will of people's hearts!

"No--!" The shriek of a silk-clad girl splits the night. Once again, Neji Otoko has entered the house of a rich family to spirit off their only daughter, Hibiki, to his secret base in his air ship. "Heh heh heh, Miss Hibiki", he says "there's no use screaming now. Soon, I will take you to my operating room for surgery. There you will become my 'beloved Neji Musume'" (Neji Daughter).

"How disgusting! Surgery, eh? Snip, snip? You'll strap down both my hands and feet, making me unable to move, then so slowly remove my clothes... Cackling, "my, what a beautiful body! I can't resist it." Slowly, you take the knife and inch forward to remove the last piece of clothing. And then you'll do all kinds of perverted things to me... Is that it, you dirty old man?"

"Huh? No! Nothing like that. I'll just remodel your insides."

"Hmph. You men are all alike. Trying to get girls to change the way they are to suit you. There's nothing that pleases a woman other than marriage, you know?"

"Uh, no. I have a mechanical body, so I wouldn't know those things".

"Anyway, what's that thing sticking out of your back?"

"This is my wind-up copter (lit. - "neji copter"). With this I can easily fly into the sky."

"... Umm, aren't you violating someone else's copyright with that?" (Ed. - Hibiki is referring to Doraemon's copter beanie.)

We're now in the operating room of the air ship. "Ah, it's come that time now," Hibiki says, "when you're going to 'snip snip' me."

"Ha ha ha. Everything is complete. Just entrust yourself to my hands."

"Wait, if you must, at least let me undress myself."

"Huh? Uh, well..."

"And can I take a shower?"

"I need to apply the anesthesia now, because of the surgery and all..."

"Can you at least turn out the lights?"

"I can't do that! You know, because of the surgery and all."

"You want to do this with the lights all bright?"

"Enough already!" Neji Otoko reaches out to grab Hibiki's shoulder.

But, she rips off her dress on her own, revealing a black suit underneath. "Gentleman Mugen, Boy Sleuth!" In one hand he holds a Colt .25 automatic. Flame leaps from the barrel as he shoots. [Blam! Blam blam! Blam blam blam blam!]

"Uwa, you deceived me!"

Neji Otoko's underlings fall left and right. Huh? Well, yes, his underlings. You got to have henchmen to fly an air ship, right? It's just that I forgot to mention them earlier. A picture? A picture, eh... Well, I guess I can I toss it in for free, since the pages in this book edition are rather small... I'll see about it.

"Heh heh heh. I was waiting for you to come to convert Miss Hibiki. Now, Neji Otoko, go grab some rope." Investigator Mugen moves from his pose position.

"It's you. Damn. Everyone, front and center!" Neji Otoko summons his remaining henchmen.

"Yes!"

"Here, sir!"

"Right away!"

The knaves pour into the room, in countless numbers. I'm not going to draw them because it's too much work.

[Blam!] [Blam! Blam blam! Blam blam blam blam!] Mugen's Colt barks out. How many rounds does it have? It's fired at least 100 bullets. He shoots, and still shoots some more and the clip never gets empty. The air ship fills with smoke. The bullets must have been hitting something. Fires break out.

"Hey, don't! Stop shooting!" Neji Otoko calls out. "Ahh, my dream is burning! My beautiful vision of winding up all those converted wind-up people!"

"It's an unnatural dream," Mugen admonishes him.

"Hoh, you think so? Look at this!" Neji Otoko opens up a plate in his chest, revealing a clockwork mechanism. How amazing - Neji Otoko is himself a wind-up man!

"My father was a watchmaker. He loved wind-up toys. When I was young, I was very frail and the doctors said I wouldn't live long. My father worked his surgery on me and because of that I've been able to live this long. But, I hate the way this body looks, so I'll never forgive him! For my revenge, I'll turn the world into clockwork toys and name myself "Emperor" over them! ... Um... Where'd you go?"

Mugen is no where to be seen. One of the ship's windows is open, letting in the wind and causing the flames to grow stronger.

"I don't have time to listen to villains monologuing. I'm too cool for that."

With the early dawn breaking, the ship passes over the still-empty streets of Ginza. Down below, Mamiya Mugen stands gracefully, looking up at the ship. When did he get down from there? Maybe he used a parachute?

"Well there's always the chance that he'd been wearing really thick-soled shoes."

Eh? What, you mean that he simply jumped out and landed on his feet? Thick-soled shoes... that he's wearing "secret boots"? Hmmm...

[Ba-whoomp] A thunderclap rocks our hero. The air ship has crashed into the middle of the street. "The villain's last moments"... no, not quite yet. The anesthesia gas is fueling the blaze and it continues to build. It's massive. On the scale of the Hindenburg.

"With this, the peace within the Imperial City has been maintained."

Actually, the Imperial City is on fire. It's an unimaginable sea of flames. Ahh, what can we do!?!?

Boy Mugen stands and watches the blaze placidly, a look of smiling satisfaction playing on his lips.

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