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Sorry guys, no update this week. I lost some of my footage in a mysterious accident I will not elaborate upon. I might just have to skip forward a bit, I hope you understa—
Chapter 35: 5/21-5/23: The Convict’s Diary
(Greetings museum visitors! The contents of this journal were discovered years ago at a dig site in New Toledo, which was formerly a city called “Tokyo.” It is one of the only surviving primary sources from the no longer extant country of “Japan.” This source covers an unnamed year in the second decade of the 21st century, determined to likely be 2016. The journal is too large to print here in entirety and has yet to be deciphered in full, but we have translated a two-day period for your benefit here.)
I was given this diary presumably so that my activities could be tracked, but no one has ever checked it, and at this point I doubt anyone ever will—so I might as well be forthcoming. There’s a certain therapeutic quality to jotting every detail of my day down, I have to admit, even if the journal itself is just a stark reminder of the cage around my soul. I’m glad no one will ever read this, because I am internally cringing at that metaphor.
I woke up that Saturday morning and instantly fell into a full-body sigh. Today should be a welcome reprieve, but instead I get to be grist in the societal mill. Don’t most high schools in Japan not have classes on Saturdays anymore?
Of course, it’s not that I had anywhere to be that day. I’d just like the opportunity to sleep in like I normally do on my days off. Maybe if I didn’t waste so much of my Sundays sleeping I could actually use them to get more than one thing done during daylight hours, but that’s a price I have always been willing to pay.
The train ride is overstuffed as usual, but I managed to swipe a seat a kindly old grandma had her eye on. Better luck next time, Nana. As I sat down, the cat yelped something at me about how I should use this time to read a book or something. I’ve told the beast a thousand times that I cannot read, but it never listens.
(Archaeologists were largely confused by this journal’s statement that the author is unable to read, considering they appear fully able to *write*. However, a segment towards the beginning of the diary contains notes from the author trying to practice writing this phrase: あなたをファック、猫, which appears to be in a completely different language than the rest of the diary, translated from a language called “Polish.” It is unclear how the author learned this separate language or why they do not know their country’s native language.)
(Our team is also unsure what to make of the many, repeated instances of invective hurled at “the cat” in this diary. “Shut up, cat.” “I want the cat to die.” “The cat smells and so do I.” Unfortunately, we cannot be sure that the original author was mentally sound, given their obsession with this cat and their insistence that it talks to them.)
I picked a book with an interesting cover design and glared with intent at the strange symbols covering the page, commanding them to start forming recognizable shapes. I know my shapes real good. □. Bam. That’s a square, motherfucker.
I think the book was about Buchiko, that dog that waited endlessly for its master at Shibuya Station, because the cat mentioned it… repeatedly. As I stared at the hieroglyphs, I could feel my spirit getting kinder through osmosis.
The cat continued to mock me. I hate it.
As I approached the school, I overheard two girls talking on the way. This happens every few days or so. I am an accomplished eavesdropper.
(Uneasy Girl) But, isn’t the environment kind of a problem? Have you heard the rumors about that transfer student…?
These rumors have made my life a living hell, and there these cretins were, idly discussing them. Ugh.
Oh, him. Yeah, he used to be all anyone ever talked about. But you remember Mr. Kamoshida’s big apology? The transfer student’s kinda old news now. My recent test scores haven’t been so hot… If I don’t shape up, my allowance could be in danger.
Such petty concerns.
In class, the math teacher was chattering away about some nonsense as per usual.
The golden ratio used in the Mona Lisa and the Parthenon is a famous example. But a different ratio has been used in Japanese art and architecture since ancient times. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the silver ratio.
She is incorrect. I have proudly never heard of the silver ratio.
Now then, Hamiru-san. Take a look at this.
She wanted the answer to three decimal places. I said the first few numbers that fell into my brain.
Miraculously, the numbers were correct. I thanked whatever god or random telepathic passerby gave me the answer.
One theory says it’s because Asians have rounder faces than Westerners, so they prefer a similar shape. This ratio was used in things like ukiyo-e paintings and the pagodas at Horyuji Temple. One you should all be familiar with is B4-size paper. Those proportions are the silver ratio.
I learned something today, and I could feel the knowledge seeping into my brain. Not much knowledge, though. I’d say it ranks as a 1 on a 3-point scale, completely arbitrarily.
Oh yeah, I hear that mascots that are seen as cute have faces that are close to this ratio. In other words, if you use this ratio, you can make cute things.
It is true that mascots tend to have round-ish faces… Huh? Why’re you looking at me like that?
The rest of the day passes without incident. Most days it feels like only a couple of things really *happen* at all, you know. I can’t even remember what I had for lunch. Did I even eat lunch? It’s all a haze.
The cat asked me what I planned to do today. He was intimating I should take care of the urgent business looming over our heads. Instead, I engage in some more of my favorite pastime: eavesdropping on random people.
(The prominence this diary places on eavesdropping is rather fascinating. It seems that the author devoted a few days a month almost entirely to going around and listening in on others’ conversations. We know the author has a criminal background from earlier excerpts in this journal, so perhaps they were trying to find weaknesses to exploit? Or to go even further, perhaps life in the 21st century placed a large emphasis on cutthroat deception and subterfuge.)
(Bothered Student) Have you been getting that junk mail too? I’m sure it’s all just a scam.
Shalalaaa, your smile… Shalalaaa, during the rice season… No, no, that’s no good! Ah can’t let m’country side show any! I need to write a soul-shaking rock song… I need the gods of rock to speak through me!
The wannabe rock star confuses and upsets me. I pity him.
Down in the underground mall, I ran into the world’s least subtle narc, Makoto. Narcoto? Makopto. Makocop. Anyway, she’s even more blatant than usual because she’s busy haranguing some poor Shujin girl.
Huh? Are you… Niijima-san? The student council president? Can’t I at least go shopping? I mean, you’re here too. It can’t be that dangerous, right?
I-I have business here. I had no other choice… (to self) *sigh* I can’t believe I followed him all the way outside of school. Why am I doing this…?
Yeah, yeah, I’ll go home. After all, I don’t want you tattling on me, Miss President.
I decided to see if Ann needs anything today. She had been wanting to “strengthen her heart” after talking with Shiho, whatever the hell that means, and wanted my help to do it. I hadn’t actually done any of this helping yet, and I felt kind of bad about it.
And so, we headed to the park to “train.”
When we arrived at the park, Ann claimed that she came up with a way to do the aforementioned heart-strengthening. Basically, she wanted me to say mean or bizarre things to her and try not to react. This made no sense and I told her as much, but she’s kind of an idiot, so she ignored me. I played along for a few rounds, but eventually she too realized this was a dumb, bad idea.
We then stood there awkwardly until she got an email from her modeling agency with information about the next shoot. Someone’s also been contacting the models and telling them the wrong information apparently, causing a lot of headaches. I feel like it would be pretty easy to figure out who did that, but what do I know, right? Anyway, she also told me her parents are fashion designers she doesn’t see all that often because they’re busy flying around the world. She likes the connection modeling gives to her parents, but she doesn’t think she’ll commit to it full-time, especially because of everything with Kamoshida and the rumors that got spread about her. She said she’d rather focus her time as a member of #Millennials at the moment.
After that, she just brought up some villain from some anime she watched when she was younger that inspired her. She was cool, and sexy, and knew her own justice, or something? She kinda lost me there, to be honest, and I might have blacked out for a bit from all the modeling talk. I don’t remember how I got home.
I do remember getting another call from Ann right before I entered Leblanc, though.
After we met up, I tried doing some runway walks on the way home. Like how a cool, sexy woman would walk.
I said nothing, but I knew what she was describing was absolutely deranged.
Then some girl who was watching me nearby started to copy me and runway-walked with me.
If that happened to me I would literally—LITERALLY—die of embarrassment.
I tried to stay polite, even so.
To be honest, I feel kinda bad for her. She has no idea that the real me is a human disaster.
She might have *some* idea.
I made a decision that I’m going to get stronger, so I need to overcome any obstacles!
The cat tells me like twice a week to go see Mr. Airsoft Yakuza Man even though he knows I’m too chickenshit.
I got some of the good plant food from a sale on the TV, so I gave that to my… fern? I think it’s a fern. I love you, Charley. You’re the only one who understands me.
(Reserved College Student) You sound like that artist Madarame. He was just on “Good Morning Japan” the other day.
I got that shit on lock! Totally gonna KILL with that icebreaker, buuuddy!
Then, I headed back outside for some more eavesdropping.
(Elderly Office Worker) Excellent. I’m sure a bonus will be in order. Please invest the surplus revenue.
What about a painting by Madarame? I hear they’re appreciating in value.
One must be careful with art. The company would suffer a loss if we purchased a fake.
Yeah, best not to purchase anything from Madarame. We’re about to expose him, after all.
(The use of the word “expose” here is telling. The author clearly has a lot of repressed psycho-sexual urges, and is likely some manner of depraved pervert.)
I guess the editor-in-chief has been nagging me about covering the Phantom Thieves though…
(Adorable Woman) But it’s been my dream to live here! Drop it already!
So ye’re just gonna throw it all away? Yer heritage? Yer home?
I’m not “throwing away” anything. I said I’d come back home once a year to visit. Isn’t that enough.
I wonder if I’m inadvertently infantilizing this woman by referring to her as “adorable” in my head.
(We have no idea how to unpack that one, folks.)
I wonder how many people suffered behind the scenes ‘cause of him. Well, not like I care either way.
Er, what I mean is, the food’s real good—I’m not calling you a dope or anything!
(Cat) *confused meow*
Damn, I gotta get better at Japanese…
(Sullen Office Worker) Yeah, they might not give it to us. It’s not our fault that the company’s in the red.
It doesn’t matter what we do in this recession. What we really need is political change.
Vote Yoshida! I don’t actually know what any of his positions are yet, but I’m sure some of them are good!
It doesn’t matter to me who’s in charge in the government. I don’t expect things to get better
I hear Madarame-sensei’s gotten quite popular. Do you like his work?
Heh, well aren’t you the critic.
I used to be an artist myself. Dreamt of having my own exhibition. I was the apprentice to someone well known within the art circles. But that was a long time ago.
Okay! And now it’sh time for the pop quiz ques… question! What’sh the painting… that made me, who is Madarame, so famoush?
There’s usually a drunk guy stumbling around outside Leblanc at night. I decided to fuck around with him for a bit.
Ding ding! Ding ding! Tha’s riiight! Ya win a prize to… a round trip t’ Yongen!
I’ll go pack my bags!
Ooh! It’s soundsh almost the sane! Th-The same! So close, but yer wrooong.
Bzzzt! The ansher is… “Sayori.” I mean, “Sasori.” I mean, “Shashori.” “Sasori.” “Ska,” “skayor”… “scorpion”? Ow ow ouch! Scorpions! Ruuun, th-they’re ev’rywhere!
Drunk people are funny.
(Of course, alcohol and all other forms of vice are strictly prohibited today. The author’s decadent society was doomed to fall.)
TRIAL BY BURGER
(The next several pages are just repetition of the words “TRIAL BY BURGER” underlined numerous times. It is unclear what this means. Perhaps a mating ritual of some kind?)
Don’t get too hasty… Just work at your own pace and you’ll do it!
Y-You did it!
More burgers!? Oh god… But I can feel my courage rising a bit from the challenge… as well as my knowledge, dexterity, and personal charm for some reason… Yes, they’re all rising by one point!
(To be honest, this part is complete nonsense and the translators went back-and-forth on whether to include it or not.)
On the way back home, I listened to the aimless ramblings of the city…
I don’t wanna go to school… This sucks…
I’m so tired every day…
I don’t want to go to work…
Are there any breaks coming up?
The instant I woke up on my day off, the cat was yelling at me to watch the shopping channel.
Yes, true art expresses the heart, which has much to say. “A picture is worth a hundred words,” right?
Ah! True, but geniuses can take a hundred words… and make them feel like a thousand.
I hate this idiot, but he’s like Sojiro’s one regular so I can’t be *too* blatant with my insults.
Speaking of which, there is a new exhibit by Madarame, that master of the Japanese arts. You should go. I expect that you’d learn a thing or two about what qualifies as true art.
Here’s what we’ve got for you today! Here we go! First up is the Muscle Plus Set! Great for a pick-me-up before heading to work! 2 Stronger Lift S, 2 Harder Core S, and… 2 Accu-Speed S! All in one set! But that’s not all! We’ve got even more to show you! Here’s the Outdoors Kit! Master the elements of Fire, Ice, and Electricity to become a camping master! 3 Blowtorch, 3 Dry Ice, and… 3 Magneto Coil, all together in one set! How great is that!?
I decide to go for the Muscle Plus Set because I want to get huge.
And on the subject of health, I also bought some more disgusting aojiru to drink to increase my kindness. I guess going through the turmoil of drinking it makes me nicer to others. Whatever, one point.
(Veteran Pick-Up Artist) You need to understand your crowd first, idiot. Just dumb it down for now. Everyone knows whatever’s been on TV. You could talk about the Madarame exhibit. Some witty worldplay, maybe an impersonation could work too. Just get their attention first, okay?
Next, I made my way over to the pick-up artists to laugh at their misfortune. I’m pretty sure one of them is straight-up scamming the other, so that’s fun.
(Remember, there is nothing funny about premarital sex, which untethers your soul from our Lord!)
You can raise your Charm by learning how to handle customers. Do you want to work this part-time job?
Oh, are you the one who applied for the part-time job? I’ll call the manager, please wait a moment.
I decide to actually go to the job I got hired for a month ago and never showed up to as a lark. It was pretty funny watching them slowly realize who I was, but they were so desperate for help they accepted me anyway.
We’ll be asking you to work the cash register. Please watch your coworkers to learn the ropes.
All right, I expect you to do your best.
Shit! I fell into his devious rhetorical trap!
Oh, right… You’ll get paid more for days you work especially hard. Well, good luck.
Oh, I’m Nanami Shibuya. I guess I’m your senpai? So, did watching me give you an idea of what to do?
Don’t worry about it! That’s how everyone is when they first start. Let me give you one pointer. Remember where the bar codes are. That alone will save you a ton of time. Hmmm, how about I test you while we’re on the subject? You know “Cow’s Milk,” Triple Seven’s brand’s milk? Can you tell me where the bar code is?
I do not know, so I guess. Also, is it just me or is “Cow’s Milk” an incredibly suspicious name for a milk brand?
Yes! That’s right! It is indeed next to the company logo. Not bad at all for a newbie! Haha, sorry, I didn’t mean to act like a big-shot senpai. But it’s little bits of knowledge like this that help you keep your cool when it counts. Sorry to keep you! I know you’re tired. Have a good rest of your day!
Well, good work today. You learned how to be more considerate of others through dealing with customers.
I can feel my charm going up. By two this time!
You’re almost done, right? Let’s get your pay and go home.
After that, I went home, but I got a text that had me leaving immediately.
After all, my good buddy Tora wanted to hang!
(This “Tora” figure, also known as “Yoshida,” is interesting. Our criminal author seems to have had a politician in his pocket, one he used to corrupt the inner workings of society, no doubt.)
There are less physically abusive teachers nowadays, but the truth of it all is still a mystery.
Then let’s get to it. Can you please hold the placard?
Tora did his usual schtick, yelling about the mistreatment of the young and all that. I don’t remember much of the speech because I was too busy holding the sign, but I liked what I heard.
Afterwards, Tora gave me some pointers and asked why I wanted to become a politician, which… I don’t. I’m not sure where he got that idea. I dodged the question by telling him I wanted to “change the world,” but then he asked me what kind of politician I wanted to be, so I just lied and said one with “conviction.” Then he said some obvious stuff about having a central philosophy as a politician and knowing what you want to accomplish, and told me his own: “Never give up until your voice is heard.” Sounds nice. He got really into explaining it to me. It made me feel nice, and I learned some stuff too.
And then the whole night was ruined when some heckler showed up and Tora had a complete crisis of faith at hearing his “nickname.” Oh well. Two more points of charm for me.
I’m sorry you had to see me acting like such a coward. Right after I gave you that self-important lecture, too…
I hope today’s incident was at least a good example of what not to do, but… What do you think? Did you take anything useful from it?
I hope our talks from now on will keep giving you the direction you need. Well, I hope to see you again soon. Goodbye.
The morning of the 23rd, Yusuke approached me, asking if I wanted to enter the Palace today. (No idea what this means) I actually already planned on doing so, so I agreed. We decided to meet up at the hideout after school.
Artists with that good of an eye are rare in Japan. I wonder if he has synesthesia. Yes, regarding synesthesia… One of many English terms that come from Greek root words. Haven’t heard of it? It’s a condition where your senses can cross over each other, like seeing music as color. There are all kinds of varieties, though some sense combinations are more common than others. We call people who experience this phenomenon “synesthetes.” Mr. Hamiru. You were staring off into space, weren’t you? Well your number’s up. The root words of synesthesia are “syn” and “aisthesis.” What do they mean?
She wants to know what the root words mean…? It’s all Greek to me, but I can give it a try… Here, let’s think about this. It’ll be easier if we put our heads together. Okay, so… Let’s start with “syn.” I think that’s in a lot of other words, too. Like… synergy, and synchronicity, and synthesis. If we think about what those words have in common, then maybe “syn” means…
That’s it! “Syn” means “together,” or a combination of something. And “aisthesis,” huh? That’s a little like the word aesthetics. I wonder if it means…
She gave me a *lot* of time to puzzle that one out.
Yeah! That’s it. Sounds lie we know the definitions of the root words. So that means the full word basically means…
Yeah, that’s it! Phew… We really gotta stay on our toes in this class. I could use a snack after all that brain power… Let’s get a treat after this!
Good! You’ve been studying! Unfortunately, synesthesia’s something you have to be born with… You can’t learn it. Some of the geniuses over the course of history have had synesthesia. The composer Franz Liszt instructed his orchestra to play the color purple. The poet Arthur Rimbaud was also said to see colors in letters.
I feel myself getting one point smarter.
Seeing colors in sounds and letters, and feeling shapes in flavors and numbers… Geniuses and common people see the world differently. Were you able to understand that?
Synesthesia, huh… That’s fascinating. Although, the reason Madarame sees the world different is because of his distorted desires.
Are any places selling anything special for the spring season? Something yummy will cheer me up.
(Foodie Girl) Do you know a place called Super Muramasa? It’s a supermarket they have over in Yongen-Jaya. Their Spring Fruit Pack would probably do just the trick.
Fruits, huh…? Enjoying some fruit does sound nice and relaxing…
I headed over to meet the others.
We still hadn’t filled in Yusuke on all the details of how Palaces work, so we did that. He asked the rather pertinent question of “do we have Palaces?” (unclear what this means), but Morgana said no, we can’t because of our Personas. (What?) Basically, we’ve accepted our Shadows and gained mastery over our emotions and desires, so no Palace can form in the Metaverse. (?????)
Yusuke also mentioned we still have until Madarame’s exhibition ends before the deadline is up, which is convenient, I guess.
From there, we headed in.
(Unfortunately, from this point onward the journal becomes indecipherable nonsense. We may publish further excerpts in the future. Thank you, everyone, and remember to get chipped!)
—nd. When we resume, we’ll be heading into Madarame’s Palace for the second time. The stuff we missed was just some stat raising activities, Ann’s Rank 3 event (from Part 33 of the original LP) and Tora’s Rank 4 (Part 34). Again, sorry about the break in the coverage, I promise this won’t happen again.