Canto III: The Gift Shop of Hell
(Note: bishounen is a term for a cute guy)
I am the way into the channel that cannot be changed.
I am the way to those eternally suffering characters.
I am the way into fan-fictionally severe torments.
Sacred creativity moved my animator.
I was raised here by divinely wonderful artists.
Conscientious writers and ultimate fandom.
Only those stations that existed in the 1950s
Were made before me, and beyond the 1950s I stand.
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
These mysteries I read flashed across my TV screen
In across a background of green. And turning I said, "Princess,
What is the meaning of this nonsensical flashing text."
And she then, as one whose elevator does not go to the top floor:
"This is the place I told to expect. Here you shall meet monsters
And demons and fallen anime characters, of course."
So saying, she conjured a glowing green square,
And with a grand and over-the top gesture
She motioned me through the screen of glass.
Here registers, and store bells, and announcements
Rang between my ears, making my head long for aspirin.
Racks of t-shirts, sweatshirts, and keychains waited
For some unsuspecting tourist to purchase them. Salespeople,
Attentive and pushy descended upon us. And I,
Wondering why I only had a mild headache, cried: "Souvenir Salesman,
What tourists come to this place that a gift shop is necessary?"
And the blue mohawked man to me: "These gifts are for those
Who, like yourself, venture through this place as an animated drawing, no da.
They come here, with the hopes of finding something
Such as a brochure or map to guide them through this place,
And of picking up a reminder of the few less unpleasant memories, no da." And I:
"Salesperson, what yen does it cost to purchase one of these maps
So that I might know my way through this pit?"
"We only take American currency, no da," he answered me,
"But with a calculator and the currency exchange rate
(Of 124.58 yen to the dollar) plus a special exception
622 yen and a 100 yen fee I will gladly take, no da."
My guide spoke then, "You who have me for a guide
Do not need a map such as this to find your way (she could not be serious)
By the way, how much does this sparkling rodent keychain cost?"
I saw an opportunity there upon that novelty keychain
beckoning and beckoning Princess Shiina from my map
So I went on to another register to make my purchase.
Then moving outward after making our purchases
I made out a simulated crowd assembled on the margins of a paper river
Whereupon I turned to her (my guide): "Princess,
"For what purpose do these shreds of characters (for that was what they were)
wait so eagerly to cross this dreaded river as they seem to be? Is the ferryman
of this river a bishounen?" At which the princess replied:
"Just be patient, all will be explained when we stand
Upon the glossy cover of the river Manga." And, I,
Quite doubting this contacted my map for information.
There, steering towards us in a state-of-the-art jet ski
came a young half-demon with dog ears protruding from his white hair
bellowing: "Why must it be I who ferries all these people across the river? Now hurry
Up and get in. I lead you to the other shore
Into the eternal channel of suffering.
But I have better things to do with my time.
And you, who are not yet dead, by another way
Shall you cross the river. A monorail or other tourist
type mode of transportation must give you passage."
And my guide to him: "Inu-Yasha, don't be so mean.
I have orders from above to bring her in this way,
And who are we to argue with Those Who Give Us Voices."
The driver of the jet-ski which ferried the souls across the paper river Manga
Whose eyes reflected the golden glow of my own Hikari's.
Stifled the urge to procure the sword his hand rested near.
"Now, Hikaru-chan," the OVA princess said to me,
"None of the characters who have been condemned for their cliches care
About such things as bishounen. Though, he is rather cute now that I think about it."
When she had spoken, all the craziness of the past hour
Came upon me then, in a single state of overwhelm. And my
Sugar high and genkiness left me. Tired
As one who has stayed up until all hours trying to finish one's homework,
My eyes drooped and the Z's started floating over my head.
End of Canto III