During morning homeroom, Mino-chan picked incessantly at his maroon sweater, which had a lot of white hair from his dog on it. His long adult-like knotty fingers picked the hairs carefully and laid them on the desk, one by one. Akira was staring wistfully at his thick blue plastic writing board, a souvenir his father had brought back from Europe. It had an a strange dog drawing on it and Akira was very proud of it. He should throw that away soon, Makoto thought. Anything related to dogs had to be gotten rid of. Since No-Life King had started to work his power, the kids had to keep as far away as possible from their enemies, otherwise a curse might fall upon them, too. Now, Makoto and the others were afraid of the "Puppy Man." After "Fats" had collapsed, none other than "Puppy Man" had become their mortal enemy. That was the underlying fact obvious to everyone who'd ever played Life King. Makoto did not see Kuro in the schoolyard that morning. Kuro, the black dog, usually hung around the school. He must be hiding somewhere waiting for me, Makoto thought. Maybe Kuro was not hiding, but had been chased away with stones by someone he'd ambushed. That was a scary thought. Kuromiyama Elementary School was not the only place where the kids were afraid. The dead principal had become a blue spirit who cursed children all over the country. "WAR HAS BEGUN. IT WON'T STOP UNTIL YOU DIE." The ratings of a popular TV animation program, "The Adventures of Calalia" dropped to 23%. It had been wildly popular, with a puppy as its main character, and the station had boasted about its 38% average ratings. The ratings even dropped as low as 10% the following week. There were a lot of threateningly silent telephone calls made to the TV station while the program was broadcast. Children stopped going to school, saying that "they'd gotten sick watching the program." All the tabloids and magazines made quite a commotion about it. The headlines read: "Curse Rumor on Calalia!? If you see it, you'll die!?" "This Time, Plot to Destroy Calalia!!"; "The Power of the Brats' Demagogue!!" None, however, had any idea that the kids were really running away from another formidable enemy found in Life King, the "Puppy Man". The media all missed what was really going on. Channel 9's "Dear-dogs" suddenly became "Beast Pack." Another program asked "Was all this a conspiracy begun by Mr. X behind the scenes?" Soon all the other TV stations followed with a Down-with-Dogs Campaign!? Fanned by such reports, Makoto and the other kids began to hate the "Puppy Man" even more. In February, a strange rumor started about a girl in a TV commercial for a large film company. She'd played with a pomeranian in the spot. "The girl is now in the hospital. She got rabies." "If you watch that commercial, you won't be able to stop barking at night. You'll die within three days." "If you watch it four times, you'll get depressed, won't leave your room, and will die vomiting blood." The commercial was soon cancelled. The tabloids and magazines changed their editorial slant, each insisting they were the first to have discovered the common factor of a dog in the string of incidents. They wrote whatever they wanted. By then, TV, the major newspapers and radio had caught up. "Shogun Tsunayoshi and Now," "Dogs...Fom the Egyptian era to the Present...," "Dogs' name on Ill Omens," etc...etc. But strangely enough, none mentioned No-Life King. Even the children focused on hatred of "Puppy Man"-related things and forgot their main goal--getting rid of the curse of No-Life King. But as the whispered rumors became reality, the kids could see their effects on society, and returned to their senses as if seeing a mirror in the darkness after waking up in the middle of the night. They didn't know they were looking at themselves in pyjamas, and dreaded seeing these unknown figures. They were then frightened to realize it was themselves they saw. That was how No-Life King rumors differed dramatically from other rumors. Usually other rumors died immediately after being aired in society, or lost their meaning. With No-Life King this was not so. Each rumor caused an action, which in turn made the rumor more real, driving kids into corners. Each rumor seemed to be written into the epic of No-Life King, and the childrens's rumor network created an even more ominous epic, containing all the stories and thier mutations. So it was with the "Prisman Disturbance." Like the girl in the puppy commercial, it was rumored that "Goh Miyakawa was dead, and that it was his ghost that appeared on TV." Goh Miyakawa was an action series actor who was very popular among children. He played the title character in the "Rainbow-colored Warrior Prisman," which was already in its eighth series. So kids tried to get rid of their "Prisman" character goods in all kinds of strange ways. There were many desperate acts of kids trying to rid themselves of the curse of Goh's ghost. Some burned their "Special Alloy Prism" on their stove's gas flames; others dropped all eight pieces of their "Prisman Buckle" sets from the roofs of department stores; and still others put Goh Miyakawa's photos in the microwave. Parents often held PTA meetings in the hopes of finding a solution, but could not effectively do anything. TV and newspapers talked about "the influence of the violent scenes of Prisman," but it was only talk. Truth be told, the rumor of Goh Miyakawa's death had been started by "N," a major advertising agency, and directed to kids. If the campaign had gone as planned, the charismatic power of Goh Miyakawa would be further enhanced and Prisman goods would sell even better--owning to the threat of the program being possibly discontinued at any time. The N Agency had begun to track the mysterious power of the children's rumors in the late 1980's, and continued to analyze these phenomena, all along extremely confident of their plan. However, the agency was seriously hurt by an unexpected development; namely, unbridled power of the children's rumors. So they started the prism campaign to counteract this power. Their aim was to confuse the darkness by throwing light through the prism. Through this diffused reflection, they sought to bring down the kids' feverish rumors. If this didn't work, the whole country would be in danger, they thought. But, their plan backfired and No-Life King, the king of darkness, emerged. Children were shocked that fear of Prisman led to a reaction similar to that of hatred of the "Puppy Man." Even if what had happened bore no relation to Life King, the kids were paralyzed by the fear that these scenes had been predetermined in No-Life King. The kids were extremely upset. They looked over Life King, the only textbook they had, for any possible clue or interpretation. Nobody bothered to open the beautiful manuals; they knew nothing was written there. No-Life King was a meta-technique in itself. So they interpreted the "meta-technique." They discovered, for example, that the Laser Beast GIGIRA which appeared in the depths of the mountain in Vision II, was a Prisman character. The hermit in the cave who gave directions to GIGIRA could only be beaten by fire, and he was also a Prisman. The monkey who lived in the lake and carried a prism-shaped sword on its forehead in Vision III, looked like a Prisman character in Series 8. It was also suspicious that eight brick walls existed in meta-world III of Vision I-3. As these connections were made, they spread, creating rumors about curses on those characters in TV and comicbooks. Anyone who used a laser was a Prisman assistant. Characters with "eight" were cursed. Monkies spread viruses. The market for children's goods fell into chaos within a mere week. Still nobody understood what was going on with the children. TV program ratings dropped badly; sales of a particular comicbook fell by half; importation of stuffed monkies was suspended; an animal documentary film cancelled its large-scale tie-in event; a popular pop singer announced she would not be wearing the devil-like costume on which she'd spent tens of millions of yen.... The adults unwittingly took a different approach, by taking note of every rumor in the kids' network: "Fujimaru's special microphone is cursed"; or "If you see a Petit Jeanne doll dancing at night, you'll get killed"; "Kids have been throwing away their Prisman erasers. Can they erase their honor, too!?" Rumors are the most heated when they spread by word of mouth, but the adults dug up rumor-worms wriggling under the earth and exposed them to the sunlight, thus weakening them. Magazines competed to get the best scoop on the rumors, picking them up while they were still small buds and adding their own interpretations. It became an unconscious battle between children and adults, but the outcome was determined very quickly. The molecules moving ultra-fast in the kids' network stopped colliding, and the mercury dropped immediately. As the commotion died down, it seemed that all the children had forgotten about No-Life King. Schools and jukus were both quiet. But in reality, No-Life King closed the doors of Vision I, still undetected by the adults.
Copyright (C) SEIKO ITO , EMPIRE SNAKE BLD,INC. All rights reserved.