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Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Write your own Japanese potboiler

1. Someone falls victim to a horrible murder in a U.S city. The solution lies in a cryptic message written on: a samurai sword; a Satsuma vase; a netsuke; an ancient scroll; a jade amulet; or an Astro-Boy comic book.

2. Knowing nothing about Asia and speaking not one word of Japanese, the hero heads for Haneda (if before 1977) or Narita (if after 1977) to investigate the murder.

3. He calls on the U.S. Embassy and is given a full briefing by the CIA station chief, at which he is warned to beware of the powerful Mr. X, who oversees a.) a huge manufacturing conglomerate; b.) a huge trading conglomerate; or c.) a huge crime syndicate.

4. Knowing he can expect no cooperation from the police, the hero traces the sole clue, a matchbook from a Kabukicho bar.

5. While walking down an alleyway in Shinjuku, he is roughed up by several former sumo wrestlers and warned to "leave Japan" while his bicuspids are still intact.

6. The hero is helped by a woman of either Ainu, Korean, or mixed ancestry who wants to "get back" at Japan by helping a foreigner thwart the villain.

7. The hero encounters a beautiful policewoman who initiates him to conjugal bathing. Although ordered to seduce him by her superior, she falls in love with the American and reveals everything she knows about the people behind the crime. She is killed in a shootout in the final chapter.

8. A violent altercation occurs on the Shinkansen en route to Kyoto.

9. In Kyoto, a violent altercation occurs on the grounds of a temple, a shrine or a garden.

10. A man with a shaved head and robes appears and reveals the entire mystery. He turns out to be an ex-pat American who was once a CIA spy.

11. After a sentimental scene at the airport, the American departs, leaving Japanese to wallow in a hopelessly complicated, unresolved situation.

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