Chapter 12: Side Profiles and Irises (12)
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
Perfect, things are goin’ great, Shin thought. It was their last show. The performers brought everything to the taping, full throttle, and the studio audience laughed and laughed with barely a pause. The video segments, the studio commentary, the staff coordination—everything executed without a hitch, and it was a rare day that they could bask in the energy in the studio. They had taped for over a total of four hours, but the editors had so much amazing material to work with, it was going to be hard to pick and choose what to include in the cut. Everything was hilarious.
Shin had pretty much used up his entire sketchbook today, and he wrote Ending talk on a page to show to the performers. This would wrap up the show.
“What did ya think of today’s show? We’ve gone through 10 years of Go Go Dash history to show ya tons of never-before-seen footage from our video vaults.”
“Man, we were brutal back in the day! Like seriously sadistic!”
“Yeah, we got away with so much stuff that woulda been nixed today.”
“Yup, and now Go Go Dash has finally been served a search warrant…”
“There’s no search warrant!”
“As we’re speakin’, the Prosecutor’s office might be carryin’ out boxes of unknown documents.”
“They’re probably just resumes of the ADs.”
“Half of which who were never heard from again.”
“Hey, we hear from them! We always get a bunch o’ New Year’s greeting cards!”
“But we won’t get them next year.”
“It doesn’t actually feel real that today is our last broadcast ever…”
The host of the show started to get choked up. The mood in the studio followed suit in an instant.
“It was tons of fun horsin’ around an’ actin’ like idiots all these years.”
“Yeah. I wish we could keep horsin’ around here.”
The audience went quiet, and soft sounds of sniffling could be heard. There was no script for the ending talk as it headed towards a sad final note. If those were the performers’ honest feelings, then it wasn’t a bad direction to end on. There was no right or wrong to their performance.
But Shin thought, This is wrong. This ain’t Go Go Dash. Where’s ya energy? Do ya really want to end the show cryin’? Ain’t the lure of the show that we’re dumb idiots hellbent on doin’ stupid stuff?
Shin gripped his marker and scribbled out in huge letters, LAUGH!, spreading the sketchbook open to show the hosts and panel guests. He flipped to the next page to deliver his finishing blow. With that, there were no more pages left.
In tears, the host snapped back, “Oi!”
“Geez, just now we were given the cue, Laugh, ya lousy comedians. He just called us lousy comedians!”
The laughter drove away the melancholy, and Shin was glad that it had worked.
“What the heck’s with this dagnabbit show? Even at the very end, ya’ll hecklin’ us!”
“Seriously, how rude.”
“An’ with that, thank ya very much everybody~”
Over the headset, the control room said, “Thanks, that’s a wrap.”
Shin stood up and shouted, “Thank you! That’s a wrap! This concludes the taping for today. Thank you everyone for your time, patience, and hard work! You did a great job!”
The audience gave a standing ovation as Shin bowed his head down. Of course, he knew that it wasn’t for him, but as he gazed at the crowd, someone kicked his leg lightly from behind.
“Nawada! Who do ya think ya callin’ a lousy comedian!?”
“I’m so sorry!”
“So ya think ya high an’ mighty now that ya on the floor, huh? Ya gettin’ an earful from me when we head to the boobie bar after this!”
“I’m pretty sure ya just wanna go there,” the co-host interjected.
“By the way, Nawada. What was that?” The host tapped Shin on the shoulder with a strangely gentle look.
“Ya didna notice it?” The host opened the sketchbook to the last page. “This.”
Where Shin had written, Ya lousy comedians, there was something right next to it.
“Huh? What the? Whaaa!?”
I love you.
It was written on the inside back cover of the sketchbook, on rough gray-colored cardstock. Blood rushed to his head in an instant. Shin thought that he would fall over. He wished he would fall over. It was him, him, him. What the hell? Seriously, what the hell? But of course, he knew what it meant.
Because Shin felt the same way too.
“Whatta ya confessin’ with such a cute gesture for~”
“And in front o’ all o’ us too~”
“Seriously, it knocked the wind outta me to say anythin’ ’bout it~”
“So, who’s the confession for~?”
“I could prolly go for someone like Nawada~ Just barely though~”
“Huh? No, wait, that’s not what it is!!”
“We’re gonna make ya spill it all to us later~”
As the performers left, Shin stood there dumbfounded with the sketchbook in his hand. That was when Shitara came up to him.
“Nice floor. I think that was a great way to close at the end.”
Shin didn’t have the brain capacity for that right now.
“Oh… Thank you very much…”
If that hadn’t just happened now, Shin would probably be more emotional with his reaction. He gave an absentminded nod and caught a glimpse of the studio clock. He was so shaken up that he had forgotten that he had something he needed to do. It was 5:50. He could still make it in time.
“Sorry, but may I excuse myself? I wanted to listen to Minagawa’s game on the radio.”
“Oh, baseball~” Shitara folded his arms like there was something meaningful to his tone.
“Did something happen?”
“It started pouring like crazy a little while ago. It was also thundering, so they cancelled the game just now, apparently.”
“No way, but it was so sunny earlier.”
The weather forecast had said a 10% chance of rain when he had checked it in the morning. He thought that everything would be okay.
“It must have been a sudden downpour. It happens this time of year.”
“I suppose so…”
Tatsuki would have another opportunity to announce a game, but he had spent so much time studying up for today. Shin really hated the rain clouds right now.
“Surprisin’ that he ain’t got much luck, huh? He’s such a sunny guy though.”
“But he’s not totally out on his luck.”
“Huh? But ain’t the game cancelled?”
“The radio production team made a mistake with the booking of the back-up programs, so he has to fill the air until 7. So even though there’s no game, he has to broadcast something.”
“That’s crazy an’ impossible!”
“Who knows. Oh, you have two minutes before it starts, right?”
Shin flew out of the studio and found a chair in the lounge as he pulled out his earbuds and opened the radio app on his phone. It was still in commercial. The evening skyline melted into the rain outside the window. Why did it have to rain today of all days? It was so dumb.
Minagawa, whatta ya gonna do?
Shin wrung his hands impatiently. It was worse for his heart to sit there and wait. He would rather run over to the ballpark. But even if he went, there was nothing he could do, and no one would switch places with him. Tatsuki had to fight this fight by himself. Shin wondered what kinds of thoughts Tatsuki ran through his head to support himself through this. He wondered if Tatsuki thought about him at all—if the thought of Shin offered any support or comfort to Tatsuki.
Shin wished he could be in the broadcast booth supporting and directing Tatsuki. No matter what Tatsuki said or didn’t say, Shin would look him in the eyes and nod that it was all okay.
I’m here for ya. I will always have ya back no matter what happens. No matter who the performer is, I wanna be their closest and best viewer. That’s the kind o’ director I wanna be, Shin thought fiercely.
I have somethin’ I truly wanna strive for.
The jingle for the baseball broadcast played over the radio. It was starting. Shin pressed his hands over his earphones.
“Currently, we are experiencing heavy rain here at Jingu Stadium.”
It was Tatsuki’s voice. Good, he was calm.
“Our plans were to originally bring you the Titans vs. Dolphins game, but 30 minutes ago, storm clouds suddenly covered the sky and poured rain onto the stadium. Today’s game has been cancelled due to inclement weather. The storm has calmed down quite a bit from earlier, but a little while ago, severe thunder and lighting forced attendees to quickly evacuate and take shelter. That is why the cheering of the fans is absent as the sound of the pouring rain fills Jingu Stadium.”
That was maybe 30 seconds of airtime. Tatsuki had 59 minutes and 30 seconds left to go. It seemed like an outrageously long time to fill even after accounting for commercials. If the cancellation had happened just before the game, that was probably when they would have learned about the booking mistake—and that they had to fill an hour’s worth of airtime until the next program. Shin couldn’t imagine that they had much time to meet and to devise a game plan. And Shin didn’t think that he would be so jittery just hearing Tatsuki’s voice but not seeing his face.
“I’d like to welcome Ibaraki Yuuzou-san, formerly of the East Japan Falcons. He’s here to provide his insight and commentary.”
“Unfortunately the game was rained out today.”
Ibaraki had left a terrible impression on Shin, and he sounded brusque and unfriendly no matter how Shin heard it. Shin ground his teeth at the sound of the guy.
“When you think of rain at Jingu Stadium on such a night, doesn’t it remind you of Game 4 of the 1975 Japan Series, Falcons vs. Titans…?”
“Oh, yes. Yes, it does.”
Ibaraki’s voice immediately took on a hint of life like a withered plant revived by the rain. Shin couldn’t see him, but he knew it to be true. He could feel it.
Tatsuki set the scene for the listeners.
“At the time, it was a golden era for the Titans with star players such as the pitcher Ikemoto, boasting the best ERA in the league for four years in a row, and Sone, the home run king. They had won three games in a row against the Falcons going into Jingu Stadium that night. The score was 1-2 in the fifth inning with the Titans in the lead when a sudden rain shower suspended play. Just before the decision to call the game, gameplay resumed and the Falcons’ offense exploded, taking the lead with a two-base hit, and then eventually scoring 10 runs over the course of the game! The Falcons went on to win back-to-back games in a row in a groundbreaking comeback to take the Japan Series. People still talk about how the rain rescued the national champions that fateful day.”
“I will never forget that moment. Just when I thought that all hope was lost, the sky cleared up, and we could see the moon shining up above us. I was so happy when I saw that we could keep playing. The entire team was filled with this euphoria as we batted and ran, then defended and ran… We were covered in so much mud, you couldn’t tell what the color of our uniforms were.”
“It was Gotou, batting third, who initiated the rally with a base hit.”
“The ball grazed the shortstop’s glove and got past him. If there had been just a centimeter’s difference, the game could have had a very different outcome. The baseball gods certainly knew how to entertain themselves…”
“There was a game that went 14 innings but ended in a tie due to a rainout.”
“I remember it well. It was the first game of the 1983 Japan Series! Just like today, it was a match-up between the Titans and the Dolphins.”
“At the bottom of the 9th inning, I believe Terao of the Dolphins had his eyes set on a shutout.”
“That’s right. And with two outs, Koizumi smacked the ball long and deep. But it didn’t stop there. Kajita blasted a line drive past third like a pistol—it gave me the chills. With all the decades of baseball I’ve seen, you just don’t see hits like that very often. I think it’s more precious than a home run.”
That nasty old man was happily reminiscing about baseball over the air. He saw a game that wasn’t anywhere but his mind’s eye, and he broadcast it over the air for the listeners to envision. The game felt real and alive—a feeling that could never be conveyed from data alone. His delivery was not smooth by any stretch of the imagination, but his love of baseball was loud and clear to Shin, who didn’t even understand the rules fully. It was undoubtedly Tatsuki’s voice that had pulled this performance out of him to keep the program alive and exciting.
Shin’s worries had all pretty much disappeared. He had become a mere listener with his full attention listening to the two broadcasters speaking. Whether it was at home, on the train, in a taxi, out at a bar—he was sure there were countless numbers of people listening to them talk, enraptured just like Shin was.
“We have reached the end of our time here at Jingu Stadium, where we have been broadcasting due to a sudden change in the broadcast schedule. Ibaraki-san, today is your last day as a commentator with us, please offer the listeners a few words about your time here.”
“Well… During my time in the NPB,1 I was plagued with injuries that hampered my career, and my record wasn’t anything to boast about, but it is entirely thanks to everyone here that I was able to work in connection with baseball up until today. I guess you could say that a rainout for my very last game suits me to the tee as someone who can’t step up to the plate.”
“Maybe the baseball gods are weeping, sad to see you go, Ibaraki-san.”
“Maybe they are… Thank you…”
Ibaraki’s voice quivered at the very end. Shin didn’t even cry at his own show, but he began to cry now.
He’s amazin’. So amazin’. An’ I dun even care ’bout baseball all that much. He’s gonna be a better announcer from here on out.
I dun wanna lose to ’im either.
“That’s all for us, signing out from a rainy night at Jingu Stadium. Oh, by the way, I’m Asahi TV announcer Minagawa Tatsuki!”
The broadcast ended there just on time, and Shin had to comment out loud, “That the hell was that?” Seriously, introducing himself at the end of the show? With a By the way? Why couldn’t he have ended on a better note?
But it was very Tatsuki. Shin wiped his tears as he laughed, looking out the window, and the rain looked like it had subsided a little.
Although Tatsuki had told Shin to wait for him at the network, Shin didn’t know where exactly to wait for him. He decided to go down to the first floor lobby at the entrance and sent him a LINE message. Shin sat down at a sofa behind a pillar that didn’t draw too much attention to him and looked up at the high, drafty ceiling. Hanging down from it were ridiculously huge banners advertising the network’s shows. The News was there, of course, with Tatsuki’s face displayed on it. He’s really somebody on TV, Shin suddenly realized all over again. He was someone Shin had spoke with normally, and Shin had spent the night over at his place, and they had kissed—it all felt like something that would happen on TV. And before long, the banner for Go Go Dash would be removed from this lineup. When Shin had this thought, it was the first time that he felt a keen pain in his heart. Even though plenty of things would disappear around him.
Tatsuki shouted his name out and ran towards him. Shin rose to his feet and rushed over to meet Tatsuki. He raised a hand over his head. They didn’t have to say anything—just exchanging a gaze was enough of a signal. The sound of a high five rang out through the spacious lobby.
“Hey, I’m back!”
“Hey, welcome back.”
Shin pulled out a rolled-up stack of papers from a paper bag he had brought with him. He held it out to Tatsuki.
“It’s listener feedback from ya radio broadcast today.”
“We got tons o’ faxes sayin’ that one hour ain’t enough—that they wanted to hear ya talk for the full time scheduled for the game. We got messages on the phone an’ email too. The guys on the program after ya were complain’ ’bout how tough ya made it for ’em to do their show.”
It was a great broadcast. I’ll come back to listen again and again. Ibaraki-san was full of himself and I hated him, but I see him in a better light now—Tatsuki flipped through the messages a little curious at first, but as he read each one, he let out a delighted chuckle.
“There’s one more thing.”
Shin reached back into the paper bag to pull out the sketchbook at issue. He swung it down on Tatsuki’s head with both hands.
“What the hell was that message for!? I didn’t see it, an’ showed it to the performers, an’ embarrassed the hell outta myself!!”
“Hey, I didn’t think you’d finish using it today!”
“Ya dumb nut… Why’d ya pick such a roundabout way to tell me? Ya coulda just said it… I thought ya the type to say things right away.”
“Well, yeah, that’s true.”
Tatsuki smiled. And from that smile, the sweet scent of rain wafted over to Shin. Or maybe that was Tatsuki’s own scent.
“But I really hoped that you would continue doing this job, Nacchan. As you worked here and reached the last page, I thought it would be fun if I could surprise you with a little something. You spoiled it way too fast.”
“I’ll continue workin’ here,” Shin said. “I’ll work hard so that I dun lose to ya. I’ll be a floor manager who can support ya an’ support everybody.”
Tatsuki looked happy. The show would carry on regardless if Shin was there or not. But with Tatsuki so delighted, the back of his nose started to bother him.
“So, what about your other answer?”
“Ya ask without any hesitation, huh?”
“Well, you’ve already seen it. It’s just a waste of time if I stop and hesitate.”
“If I say no, will ya move on to the next?”
“Probably the next one is Nacchan, and the next one after that is Nacchan too.”
“What the heck’s that?”
“Oh! You turned all red!”
Shin opened to the inside back cover. He crossed out the “you” where Tatsuki had written “I love you” and wrote “ya” there instead. Tatsuki formed a big “O” over his head with his arms. It was the signal for “okay” in the studio.
“Nacchan, what are your plans after this?”
“Gotta go to a party for GoGo.”
“Is that really work though~?”
“It’s totally work.”
Everyone was probably drunk by now. They were probably partying hard enough that they wouldn’t notice that a person was missing.
“…So I’ll see ya next week.”
“Nacchan.” Tatsuki grabbed his hand.
“Hey,” Shin protested.
“You’re a hard worker and a good boy, Nacchan, but won’t you be a naughty one for me tonight?”
This damn naughty announcer said it in such a naughty voice, Shin found that he couldn’t refuse him.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
- NPB – Nippon Professional Baseball. NPB is a Japanese professional baseball league equivalent to the MLB.