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Goodbye, Mr. Rivers

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CONTENT WARNING: MODERATE LANGUAGE

(Against a scrolling red background with the Ugly NI, '70s style JuGo, and NHK logo, Takashi Edwards says "This is Public TV For Isuten, on viewer-supported JOTO-TV and JOIT-TV." PUBLIC TV FOR ISUTEN flips in, written in Kanji, along with the Ugly NI and '70s style JuGo.)

Wednesday night. The Black Maiden Villa was full of rough and rowdy people as well as not-so-uncivilized people wanting to commit suicide by BMV.

The nearby speakeasy, the Nightrain Express, was no exception.

Shugo had gone there to try out the new beverage she had heard about, the Wishcatcher. She had heard it makes you tougher.

Paul Rivers had also come. Anyway, know why it's a speakeasy? Because it's unable to get a license due to its serving alcohol to minors.

Shugo had drunk a couple of the new drink when Ranma Midorikawa and Kenichi Inuyama, the two tough guys that frequent the place every day, show up behind her.

Midorikawa says, "Hey lady, wanna go out with me sometime?"

Shugo says, "Piss off."

Inuyama shouts, "Hey, that's no way to treat a regular here!"

At that, Shugo loses it and shouts, "¡MALDITOS!" as she knocks out Midorikawa, who manages to flee before it gets too tough.

The fight goes on as Shugo does a roundhouse kick on Inuyama, who runs away with his tail between his legs.

Shugo then gets a bottle broken on her back, and then someone tackles her. Paul manages to get him off and himself and Shugo out of there before anyone gets killed.

Once in a safe place outside the Nightrain Express, Paul asks, "Do you understand that you could've gotten killed in there? This is the Nightrain Express, Shugo! It's no place for a minor!"

Shugo says, "I know that. I just came to that speakeasy because it was the only way I could try out that new drink."

Paul says, "Well, now we know. And who knows what could've happened if someone got killed, maybe even you! Then where would your band and drama club be?"


(OP: "Hopscotch of Love" by Lovely and Wild Angels)


Today's episode
"Goodbye, Mr. Rivers"


"WHAT!?"

Sakura is as shocked as hell to hear Shugo's story. "You damn fool! Don't you know you could've gotten arrested, or worse--murdered!?"

Shugo says, "Just wanted to try out that new drink. It's not like I'm going to turn myself into an alcoholic anytime soon."

Sakura says, "Lucky for you, you're not an alcoholic yet. But the Black Maiden Villa is nowhere for a minor to be. Get lost there, and the police won't look too hard for you."

"Why?"

"BECAUSE THE GUYS DOWN THERE ARE AS TOUGH AS HELL!" Sakura shouts. "Goshdarnit, I thought your life meant more to you than this."

Shugo simply says, "It means a lot, but I'm not afraid of death. If Sunday's altercation with Sr. Ching Tu Madre was any indication, I can be as tough against anyone as W. Benny Bara was against Manco, the guy that tried to bootleg a Pistols N Flowers concert."

"Which will never happen again."

Shugo takes one look and says, "Speak of the devil. Hola, Sr. Bara. We were just having a heated discussion about the Nightrain Express, the toughest speakeasy in the Tri-Cities."

Bara says, "I take it you girls know about that ill-fated St. Louis concert at the Riverport Amphitheatre during the Use Your Allusion Tour. Good brains there."

Sakura asks, "St. Louis concert? What are you talking about?"

Bara then tells his tale.


As I was performing for a huge crowd at the Riverport Amphitheatre with Paul Rivers, Izumi Stradlin, "Tough Rose" Mackane, Mac Storeum, and Memo Ashita, I noticed a camcorder during the song "Space King".

I shouted to security, "Hey, take that! Take that! Now! Get that guy and take that!"

Finally, fed up with the sluggishness of security, I shouted, "I'll take it, Goddammit!"

I dove into the stage. A helpful audience member pointed me to the troublemaker. I took that guy, called Manco, to school for attempting to bootleg this concert.

As soon as I got back on stage, I shouted, "Well... thanks to the lame-ass security, I'm going home!" and slammed the mic on the floor.

Since it sounded like someone got shot, Backslash told everyone, "He just slammed his mic on the floor. We're out of here." Then everyone got off the stage.

For a while, it seemed as though everything was calm. Then someone tried to get onto the stage, and a security guard hit him. Then someone else retaliated, and our worst riot ever commenced.

50 people, including 15 police officers, were injured, and 15 were arrested. The venue was so badly damaged we had to cancel our other show there.

God, I'm telling you, the only riot that came close to this one was during our co-headlining tour with Metal Racer, one of the Big Four of Thrash Metal, known for breaking speed limits with their music.

It all started when vocalist/rhythm guitarist Koji O'Hara got too close to a pyrotechnics setup. It went off, and Koji nearly got incinerated! The set had to end early.

Hence, we were rushed onto the stage. We did just a few songs, and then, fed up with the crappy audio quality, we bailed early. I said, "Thank you, your money will be refunded."

Then a riot started that spilled into the streets. The police was barely able to keep the crowd under control. Meanwhile, Koji had to relegate guitar duties to someone else for the rest of the tour, but at the end, he was up to scratch again.


Shugo says, "Wow... what a story."

Bara says, "I keep telling you, it's 100% true."

Sakura says, "I'm glad you guys didn't get hurt."

"None of us were," says Bara. "Although... it's embarrassing, but I got taken to court over the affair."

Shugo says, "Tell me about it."

Bara says, "When I came back from Europe, where a good part of our tour took place, I was detained and charged with assault and property damage. Fortunately, the charges were later dismissed, but another bad mark was added to our already controversial reputation."

Sakura says, "Shugo here didn't get arrested, but she actually did get hurt. She went to a speakeasy called the Nightrain Express, and she started a brawl that she and Backslash were lucky to escape from with their lives."

Bara says, "I've been there before, and it's not a pretty place. It's loaded with murderers, bandits, and square dance callers. Yes, the very idiots who make anyone's life miserable!"

"...Oh... kay..."

Bara says, "Well, just wanted to let you girls know if you ever want to pay a visit. Not even throwing coins at them will stop them."

Shugo says, "It's okay, Mr. Bara. I'm a black belt in karate."

Bara says, "Well, then, you'd better teach Sakura some of your skills. She'll need 'em if she gets the bright idea to drop by the Nightrain Express one of these days."

Shugo says, "Did you hear that, Sakura? I've gotta show you some of my own karate skills."

"Sure," Sakura says. "I'd just love to karate chop any Akumana that gets in the way... which, fortunately, not a one has in the past couple of weeks."

Shugo stops. "Come to think of it, the past three episodes have been peaceful. But Zero may be waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike."

Sakura says, "Well, then let's hope he doesn't strike when we least expect it."

Shugo says, "Anyway, if you want to learn the martial art of karate under my wing, I'm going to put you through hell, so don't think it'll be all fun and games."

Sakura says, "I don't give a damn, so long as I manage to learn something."

Shugo says, "It's decided, then! First lesson's when the author doesn't realize what we're doing!"


As Sakura and Shugo exit the Kino family dojo (built in the backyard of the Kino home while Shugo was still learning karate), Sakura says, "You were right, Shugo. It was hellish. But I enjoyed every bit of it."

Shugo says, "I'm glad you enjoyed it. There'll be more lessons to come, Sakura-san. However, when they're over and done with, you'll be ready for some real action."

Sakura notices a robin in the backyard and says, "Shugo, give me the bird."

Shugo says, "I'd love to, really, but the author wouldn't allow it, especially since four of the last five episodes, including this one, already contain tough language at least once as it is."

"No, really!"

Then the robin notices a grasshopper and catches it by the wing, then flies up to its nest where three hungry chicks are waiting for their meal.

At this, Shugo says, "Too late. If I could levitate myself, I'd see for myself the gory scene that's about to take place."

Sakura asks, "Uh... what are you talking about?"

Shugo asks, "Remember that movie about a colony of ants that hire warrior bugs to defend them from a horde of grasshoppers?"

Sakura says, "Uh, yeah. Why?"

Shugo says, "At the climax, one ant gets an idea as to how to get rid of the lead grasshopper once and for all.

"The setting is near a robin's nest. The grasshopper is strangling the ant. Then they see a bird. The ant says it's another fake. The grasshopper falls for it, and... turns out, it's the real deal.

"He tries to escape, but the bird blocks his path. As he tries to flee in another direction, the bird catches him by his wings and feeds him to its three hungry chicks as the ant and his royal girlfriend watch from a safe distance."

Sakura says, "I've seen that movie before."

Shugo says, "It's a good watch, just like every other movie from the company that did it."

Sakura says, "Of course, we don't see any actual gore, because, after all, it's rated G... hold on a second." Her phone was vibrating.

"Moshimoshi... what about Backslash?... he WHAT!?... thanks for telling me. Sayonara."

Shugo asks, "Sakura, what is it?"

Sakura says, "It's Backslash... he quit Pistols N Flowers."


(Eyecatch 1: Rizuka and Shugo are jamming when Sakura runs past them and grabs the microphone. The PCHM logo appears in the bottom-left corner.)

(Eyecatch 2: The camera goes between Isuzu on her bass and Taiko in her drum kit and stops when Sakura with the microphone is in view. The PCHM logo appears in the bottom-left corner.)


"WHAT!?"

The other three girls, who had not heard the news, were dumbfounded. Sakura says, "Backslash is no longer a part of Pistols N Flowers."

Rizuka asks, "Well, who's going to replace him?"

Sakura says, "I don't know yet. I just know that he left over a spat with W. Benny Bara."

Isuzu asks, "So why don't you ask him about it then? Don't you know the details?"

Sakura says, "Not a clue. I'll take your advice."

Isuzu says, "Good. I'd like to know how Backslash leaving Pistols N Flowers would be possible."

Sakura says, "Believe me, sister, you'll find out soon enough."


Thursday night. Sakura goes all the way to the Roxy Recording Studio unattended. She had told her dad, Tamaki, that she needed to find out just how Pistols N Flowers could lose a member.

And that was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help her Kami-sama.

She reaches the door. Mr. Ikari asks, "Why are you up so late?"

"Never mind that... swordfish, swordfish."

"OK, you can come in."

She enters. W. Benny Bara is waiting for her. He just says, "Hi, Sakura. I see something's troubling you tonight. Please tell me."

Sakura says, "I understand that Backslash has left Pistols N Flowers."

Bara says, "And believe me, nobody appreciates it more than I do."

Sakura asks, "The question is, why? Why did he leave?"

Bara says, "Nothing major, just another dispute between the two of us that just happened to be the last straw for him."

Sakura asks, "Well, what happened?"

Bara says, "I was minding my own business when Backslash came in and asked me what direction I was taking the band in. I said I wanted to go industrial.

"But Backslash, well, he wanted to stick to the tried-and-true blues formula that made us successful worldwide, including our home base, Hollywood.

"After an argument, he stormed out of the room. The next day, he left me a note of resignation, and that was that."

Sakura asks, "What's he doing now?"

Bara says, "Something he's been doing for the past several weeks that I don't approve of but that I've been tolerating all this time."

Sakura asks, "What is it?"

Bara says, "A side project he's been working on, called Backslash's Snakepit. He's finishing the first, and hopefully only, album as we speak."

Sakura says, "I wish him luck."

Bara says, "I know how you feel, Sakura, but... things change, and so does Pistols N Flowers."

Sakura says, "I know most people will turn against you guys for selling out, as they call it, but my friends and I... we'll always stick with you, no matter what."

Bara gives her the thumbs up and says, "I know. We seem to be a great influence to your sound, judging from what you've recorded--albeit with a demo-like quality--so far."

Sakura starts to leave but then says, "Oh, and one more thing."

Bara says, "Go on. I'm all ears."

Sakura asks, "Who's going to replace Backslash?"

Bara says, "I don't know, but I'll try to find a good axeman soon."

Sakura says, "Thanks." She then exits the studio and heads back home while singing "Raw and Wild".


Friday. Sakura tells Isuzu, "I finally figured out why Backslash left Pistols N Flowers so suddenly."

"That's great," Isuzu says. "So why did he leave?"

Sakura says, "Well, apparently, he and W. Benny Bara had a dispute over the direction of the band, and the next morning, Backslash turned in his resignation."

Isuzu asks, "What's this about?"

Sakura says, "Backslash wanted to stick to the blues formula that had made them successful, and Mr. Bara wanted to go industrial. But no matter whether they sell out, I told him my friends and I will remain dedicated fans."

Rizuka says, "That's great. I'm glad the new Pistols N Flowers will be just as much liked by us as the old one was. So who's replacing Backslash?"

Sakura says, "Mr. Bara doesn't know yet, but he's put up WANTED posters all over the Tri-Cities, including the forest where Karlix headquarters used to be."

Shugo says, "Don't mention Karlix. It gives me the creeps. Ever since that artificial freak of nature cut me up good..."

Sakura says, "I've heard it before, and I don't want to hear it again."

Shugo says, "Oh. My bad. Carry on."

Sakura says, "Anyway, WANTED posters are all over the Tri-Cities advertising for a spot in Pistols N Flowers."

Shugo says, "I saw that during my weekly night jog from Isuten to Oriyama and back. I saw several all over Oriyama alone."

Sakura says, "Well, there's more all over Isuten. Even JOTO-TV and JOIT-TV have one posted outside."

Shugo asks, "What about it?"

Sakura says, "Well, Takashi Edwards told me during a visit to the studios that he was hoping his teenage son, who plays guitar, could try out for Pistols N Flowers."

Shugo is amazed. "You mean the Soichiro Edwards?"

Sakura asks, "Who the hell is he?"

Shugo says, "He's a second-year at Isuten High School. He was part of my drama club from back when I was just a first-year at Isuten Junior High."

Sakura says, "Well, it's no wonder I haven't heard of him. He moved on to high school before I came to town from Yokohama."

"Hi, girls!"

Taiko says, "Hi, Mr. Bara! What a nice surprise. We were just talking about Backslash's replacement."

"Speaking of which," Bara says, "someone dropped by the Roxy Recording Studio as dawn broke."

Rizuka asks, "Did he audition?"

Bara says, "You're right."

Rizuka asks, "Did he make it?"

Bara says, "Sure as hell."

Rizuka asks, "Who is he?"

Bara says, "Robin Kuno, formerly of Phony Nails Number 9."

Rizuka is amazed. "OMIGOD, MY DAD'S IN PISTOLS N FLOWERS!"

Bara says, "Why don't you come along with him when he records? When you don't have school, that is."

Rizuka says, "Great idea! I've been wanting to see Pistols N Flowers in action for a long time."


Back home, Sakura tells her dad the news: "My friend Rizuka's father is in Pistols N Flowers!"

Tamaki says, "That's great, Sakura. I just heard that Backslash quit yesterday."

Sakura asks, "Who told you?"

Tamaki says, "Takashi Edwards. He told me he was hoping for his son Soichiro to replace Backslash."

Sakura asks, "Does Mr. Edwards know about the replacement?"

Tamaki says, "Yes. He told me just before I came home after a great day at the studio."

Sakura asks, "Was he disappointed his son didn't get the spot?"

Tamaki says, "I don't think he was. He just said that Soichiro didn't care either way and believes in Robin Kuno."

Sakura says, "I'm glad the Edwards family accepted the news."

Tamaki says, "How 'bout some pizza?"

Sakura says, "Thanks!"


(ED: "Raw and Wild" by Lovely and Wild Angels)


(Next episode preview)
MAC: Benny! Why did you let Backslash leave? He's a vital part of Pistols N Flowers!
BARA: One more word about him, Mac, and you're fired!
MAC: Well then, I guess I'm fired.
TOUGH ROSE: Well, if Mac's leaving, then I guess I'd better follow him.
BARA: What are you talking about?
TOUGH ROSE: I quit.
SAKURA: Not them too! Next episode: "Another One Bites the Dust"! We're coming live and loaded!

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