Disclaimer: Ronin Warriors/Yoroiden Samurai Troopers is copyrighted to Sunrise, Nagoya TV, and Sony Music Entertainment. The Hanshin Tigers are owned by Hanshin Electric Railway Co., Ltd.
Note: This takes place during the spring of 1988; after the first battle with Arago.
"It's the bottom of the Ninth Inning… and the Tigers are down by one run", the deep voice of a sport's announcer emanated from the television set in the living room. "If Koji Noda can get a walk from the Whales, 'Hard-Luck Hanshin' will still be in the game as it moves into overtime. Very exciting, isn't it?!"
Touma was hunched forward on the sofa; his hands were folded as he held then over his mouth. Next to him, Shuu was intently staring at the TV screen while he was bending over the armrest in order to grab the bowl of chips that were on the end table. Without taking his eyes off the television he grabbed the bowl and reclined back onto his end of the sofa and sprawled out—placing the bowl on his lap.
"Yes, this has been a very exciting game…" another sports announcer, with a higher voice, replied. "The Hanshin Tigers have been down by four to the Yokohama Taiyo Whales. But, Randy Bass' grand slam in the last play, gave his team three runs. Oh… it looks like the pitching coach for Yokohama has singled for a meeting at the mound."
The air was tense in the room as the two boys were completely focused on the television. They were so oblivious that they didn't even notice Nasutei enter into the room. The woman, intrigued at just what was captivating her newfound friends' attention so much, walked over to the sofa and leaned over its back for a better view. She propped up her elbows and rested her chin over her folded hands. Silently, the young lady observed what was on the TV screen.
The subtle movement of the back cushions startled Shuu and caused him to cough on a chip he was silently munching on. He looked up briefly from the game. "Oh… it's you, Nasutei… Didn't hear you come in…"
Shuu's voice broke Touma out of his television-induced stupor. The boy quickly turned his head to the side and gave a grunting murmur for a greeting. No sooner than a few seconds, the boy's undivided attention went back onto the baseball game. Nasutie chuckled at the two couch-potatoes' indifferent reaction to her appearing—seemingly out of nowhere. Their demeanor reminded her so much of her father when he's watching his favorite football club playing a game. Mom could walk into the room naked and he wouldn't even notice.
The higher-pitched announcer's voice broke through the boisterous chanting and cheering of the fans. "Not sure what the coach told their rookie pitcher, Takuro Ishii, what to do…? Currently, Noda has two balls, two strikes… and here's the pitch. Now, it's three balls, two strikes!"
"Yes!" an ecstatic Touma whispered as he shook a fist in the air. He then reached over to Shuu's end of the sofa and grabbed a handful of chips out of the bowl that was resting on his friend's lap.
"Noda is the man of the hour", the low-voiced announcer stated. "The Tigers are, currently, 0-4… which makes them last place in the Central League. They haven't won a game since June, when they played the Swallows in that day-night double header. Here's the hit and… it looks like it's an out."
On the television, a man in a Whales' uniform was casually jogging backwards in deep left-field, his face looking up towards the air and his right hand extended high over his head. Noda's hit quickly fell into the glove of the player, than he threw it to the man on second base. After the ball was out of play, then image of the players on the baseball diamond was soon replaced with that of two middle-aged men sitting at a desk; in what looked to be the announcer's box.
"Well, it looks like the Hanshin Tigers lose another game", the high-voiced announcer proclaimed as he looked over to his companion at the desk. "This marks a six-game losing streak. Well, I hope they can bounce back from this loss in time for their game ageists the Seibu Lions on Tuseday. Now, let's go to Takeshi Ichimura for his interview with the Whales' manager…"
The television's image faded to black as Touma hastily pushed the off button of the remote control. He then fell back onto the sofa with a growl of discouragement, his head hitting the back cushion of the sofa with an audible 'foomp' sound. He dropped the remote next to him and raised that free hand to his face; covering his eyes like he was pain.
"Awesome! That means we're third place in the Central Division", Shuu exclaimed as pulled himself up into a sitting position on the sofa and put the chips on the coffee table. He then turned to Touma. "Don't worry, buddy. How does that famous Hanshin motto goes…? Oh, yeah… 'We will rise, again'."
Touma turned his head toward the Kongo warrior and shot him a look of disdain. Shuu would do this every single time to him; point out that the Tigers had lost and then make some sort of smart comment about it. Shure he knew that is friend meant it all in good humor. Shuu only did it because he knew he could aggravate him so easily. After all, for Touma, there were two things that he took very seriously in this world: his newfound duty as a Samurai Trooper and Hanshin Tigers baseball.
"I hope Hanshin will win, next time, too", Nasutei said as she patted a glowering Touma's shoulder in sympathy. Then, she looked over at Shuu, a little taken back at the Chinese boy's reaction to his hometown's win. "Shuu, I didn't know you were so much into baseball, like Touma?"
The boy just shrugged nonchalantly. "Oh, no. Not really. But, my little brother, Yun, is a huge Whales fan. I've been watching games with him for years. Heh… I guess his love for the sport has rubbed off on me, just a little."
"I guess his love for the sport has rubbed off on me, just a little…" Touma sarcastically mimicked his friend's last statement. "Baseball has rubbed off on you… all of the sudden. Next, you'll be telling me that you think the Giants are cool."
"Nope… Yokohama dislikes the Giants, too. Maybe not as much as you guys in Osaka, who hate them with a passion…" Shuu said with a laugh.
Touma's eyebrows lightened as he cracked his knuckles and began to hum a tune—it was his teams' fight song, "The Hanshin Tigers' Song". Nasutei, still leaning on the back of the sofa, looked down at the young man curiously. She had heard stories from friends and family that baseball was kind of an important deal in Japan. Each baseball club had their own followers that were at different levels of fanaticism. But, it seemed like she was starting to learn, through Touma, that Hanshin fans had every other Japanese team beat when it came to die-hard fans. The televised games would show fans waving signs, launching balloons and be decked out in very elaborate ensembles of black and yellow—once she saw, what looked to be a grown man, wearing actual tiger costume. Even Touma had his own, little quirk; when he would watch a game, he'd always wear a worn-out, Hanshin ball-cap with a freyed brim that looked like it was supposed to have been black in a previous life. He claimed it was "very lucky"—even if the Tigers' record reflected that it really wasn't helping.
"Oh don't pay any attention to him…" Shuu said as he looked over at Nasutei. "Osakan Tigers fans are infamous for being crazy fanatics. And, like everyone from Osaka, Touma gets bent out of shape when he sees his beloved Hanshi loose… which happens to be all the time!"
The warrior of Tenku just ignored his comrade-in-arms' comments. With a smirk on his face, the young man pulled his ball-cap over his eyes, leaned back on the sofa and folded his hands over his chest—giving off the body language that he was about to take a nap.
"I have admit, Touma…" Nasutei said as she walked around from behind the sofa and picked up the chip bowl that Shuu had left on the coffee table. "I admire your loyalty to your baseball club. Not everyone could stand by a team that's famous throughout the country for loosing."
"There not losers!" Touma bellowed as he quickly rose into a sitting position, pulling his cap from up over his eyes.
"Uh… they've been in the final ranking for over the past 2 years", Shuu teases as he held two fingers up, to reiterate his point. "And, before that, your Tigers didn't win a series game in 24 years! Yep. I'd have to call them losers."
Touma started to get a bit red in the face. "It's not their fault! It's the curse… that's what it is."
Nasutei raised an eyebrow at the word 'curse'. This was the first time she ever heard Touma use that word when talking about his admired team. She glanced over at the blue-haired boy with a look mixed with confusion and intrigue. "The… curse?"
"Yeah, 'The Curse of the Colonel'…" Touma said matter-of-factly, like it was nothing out of the ordinary.
"Spoken like a true Tigers fan", Shuu mocked. "Always blame your team's problems on some stupid urban legend about an angry ghost punishing your club because some crazy, drunk Osakans decided to throw a statue into a river."
Touma glowered at warrior of Kongo. "The curse is not stupid… And, don't ever make fun of it. It's a very serious thing!"
Shuu glared back at his blue-haired friend. "Arago swearing revenge on our world… a real curse. The ghost of The Colonel swearing revenge on a Kansai baseball team… not a real curse."
Nasutei bit her lip as she listened to the two Troopers bicker. She knew that sports fans were a bit strange when it came to superstitions and ceremonies pertaining to their clubs. She had hears about such strange behavior from her high school back in France—how footballers would eat a certain food before a game or cricket players would wash their uniforms only in a certain detergent. But, a curse placed on a team by a ghost? True, she did think Touma was being just a little bit ridiculous with his rant. But, then again, Nasutei was a bit torn to between writing off her newfound friend's belief in "baseball curses". After all, in the past months of living in Japan, she was introduced to less-then-believable subjects; like mystical armors, legendary demon kings and alternate dimensions. Who's to say that, just maybe, an "angry ghost" decided to haunt the Hanshin Tigers because, as Shuu claimed, some rowdy fans threw a statue in a river?
"Well then…" Nasutei finally spoke, wanting to know more. She made her way over to the sofa chair that was diagonal to where Touma was sitting and sat down. She put the bowl—that she was holding not long ago—back onto the coffee table and began munching on a chip. "What is this 'Curse of the Colonel', Touma?"
The young Osakan cleared his throat as he began to weave the tale of Hanshin's woe. "You see… the Hanshin Tigers have not won a Japan Series for the past two years. And, the reason for this drought is because, after Hanshin's won The Series in '85, some fans accidentally lost a statue of Colonel Sanders in Doutonbori River."
"Who… Who's Colonel Sanders?" Nasutei interrupted.
Shuu looked over towards Nasutei, the look on her face conveyed that fact that the French woman was clueless about who Touma was talking about. "Colonel Sanders is an American guy that created a fast-food chain called "Kentucky Fried Chicken". My family goes to the one in Tokyo every year, for Christmas dinner… their food isn't all that bad."
"Why in the world would anyone want to put a statue of a fast-food businessman into a river?" Nasutei exclaimed in pure disbelief.
"Oh, I'll be getting to that part…" Touma replied. "Anyways, after the game, it was wall-to-wall celebration… all over the city. Among the fans celebrating was a group of Tigers fans who looked very similar to baseball teams' line-up. Well, these guys decided that they would celebrate Hanshin's win by jumping into the Doutonbori River. But… there was one problem. Nobody looked like our star slugger, Randy Bass. Since he's American… and nobody was around who looked "American"… the Hanshin fans decided to improvise. They went over to the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant and took the life-sized Colonel Sanders statue that was by the door."
Nasutei eyes widened, this story was starting to become a lot stranger then what she bargained for. "You mean… they stole a life-sized statue from a restaurant!?"
"I told you Tigers fans were insane…" Shuu interjected.
"Well… it was the only thing that looked like Randy Bass, you know. It was American-looking and had a beard, like Mr. Bass…" Touma said to the two, trying to justify the theft. "Anyways, now that they had the complete team, the fans jumped into the water… and they threw in the Colonel Sanders statue. But, that's when it sank to the bottom and it got lost. Other fans jumped into the channel to try to find the statue, but nobody could locate it. And, that's when the ghost of Colonel Sanders cursed the Tigers. He cursed the team in revenge for vandalizing, and then losing, one of his statues. And, ever since that night… the Hanshin Tigers have never won another game."
Though she figured that she was going to be in for a strange response, Nasutei decided to brave the odds, anyways, and sum up the story she just heard. "So, you're telling me, Touma… that the angry ghost of an American, fast-food businessman has placed a curse on the Hanshin Tigers baseball team because some rowdy fans threw a stolen statue of him into a river and lost it?"
Shuu nodded in confirmation. "Yep… that's pretty much it."
"He's right…" Touma replied. "But, there's a way to break the curse."
Nasutei let out a deep sigh. "I'm afraid to ask, but… How?"
Touma took off his ball-cap and combed his fingers through his hair. He then shook his cap a few times before he put it back on his head. "It's very simple. All we have to do is to find the statue and return it back to the restaurant that it was taken from. Of course, finding it is the real puzzle. But, I have this idea. While I was watching the river currents off the Nipponbashi Bridge, I came up with this calculation that the statue might be near…"
"Touma…" Nasutei barked in a gentle, non-hostile fashion. She was just about to go on and finish her though—about how she though that the teenager was rambling on about, what most likely, just a string of bad luck for his baseball team. That there was no curse and his team would recover. But, seeing the excited look in Touma's face when he began to talk about his plan to break this 'Curse of the Colonel', she just couldn't bear to say something like that.
"I just wanted to tell you that, I think, it could be plausible that this curse is true", Nasutei finally said. "After all… for centuries, people though that you armor-gears were, in a way, urban legends, too. And, look what happened with that story? With us, so many unusual things have happened… much of it even I still have a hard time believing. So, who's to really say if this curse is real or not?"
"Oh, no… don't tell me that now you're going to believe in this dumb curse, too?" Shuu protested.
Nasutei giggled at the Samurai Trooper. "All I'm saying is… what if it is true? Do you think it would be wise to have, both, Arago and Colonel Sanders angry with me?"