"Sir, can I ask you about something?"
"If it's about your order, it hasn't been delivered yet."
The manager looked up from his sports paper and smiled lazily.
Tohodo. A figure shop in Nakano Broadway, it was Tomoya's favorite haunt. The place was crammed with capsule vending machines and figures new and old, and it seemed to be run with no particular policies or preferences in mind. It never attracted more than a modest number of customers.
"No, right now I'm trying to find something."
"Looking for a rare item? You'd be better off searching the Net than looking in here. Online auctions and such."
"I mean I'm looking for something I lost. A capsule figure. It's a jet-black thing."
His voice gradually faded as he spoke.
The manager's hand made a rasping noise as he dragged it over the stubble covering his cheeks and chin.
"Tomoya-kun, you know how many capsule figures get sold at Nakano Broadway in one day?"
"I know it's a stretch. It might have been thrown away already, too."
There was agitated motion inside his backpack. Seemed as though someone might be unhappy back there.
He reached back and trapped the backpack between his elbows, squelching the motion. Couldn't afford to be found out, not here.
"By the way, on a totally different subject . . ."
"They don't make figures that walk and talk by themselves, do they?"
"There are plenty of action figures that can be operated indirectly, but I've never heard of a self-animated figure. They sell figures that move wirelessly, but that type of thing is more like a robot."
"How about one that looks like a girl, moves freely, and can carry on a conversation? Being secretly developed somewhere, maybe?"
"When you're my age, and I'm an old geezer, maybe you'll be able to buy one then. There'll probably be a market for them too."
That was the limit—the moving thing inside his backpack went berserk. Tomoya managed a forced smile and said, "There probably will." Then he made his way out of the shop, fleeing the scene like a fugitive
Copyright (C) Shokichi/Web Japan, English translation (C) John Brennan
Edited by Japan Echo Inc.