by Bob Johnson
A field report from Las Vegas, Nevada, where talent goes to die.
I was following a tip I got from a stockbroker (after discussing how much money MaximumWeeaboo could potentially earn at its IPO): If I really wanted to know what happened to Sailor Moon, I should check where talent goes to die – Las Vegas, Nevada.
I cruised through the Meadows Mall in search of the word on the street. There was a smattering of tweens whose moms let them watch Bleach; the more coherent among them pointed me to Kilala’s Anime, whose dearth of manga brings new meaning to the phrase “Comic Sans”. The absence of any memorials whatsoever to the leading lady of Mahou Shoujo, so recently reported dead, was a tipoff that they might just know the inside scoop. I asked the clerk about Sailor Moon. He harrumphed and strained his face in the direction of the security camera. “It’s really a shame…” he feigned. I asked if he had any Pocky – he didn’t.
Strikeout. But now I knew something was going on, something that street-level chumps knew enough about to keep their mouth shut.
I saw my lead that evening, after wandering into the sulking corpse of another north strip casino. It seemed so innocuous next to the stripper ads and the tattoo parlour, it barely registered the first time I walked past. I was tired anyway, and just wanted to wash away the pain of a bad flight and a day in a mall filled mainly with rabid consumers of non-Japanese media.
I went up to the bar and asked for a highball full of sake. The bartender laughed for a second before returning with a tall glass of clear liquid. I tipped him too generously – the second I took a sip, I knew he had stuck me with bottom-shelf shochu. In that distasteful moment, my entire visit to that pathetic place flashed through my brain. That’s when I remembered seeing the ad for “Haruka Tenoh Live”.
Haruka Tenoh… That’s fucking Sailor Uranus. I poured my ‘drink’ into the nearest ashtray and ran to the Box Office.
The show was what I expected – the warmup act was a couple of Suicide Girls rejects making out for twenty minutes, followed by chorus lines of schoolgirls and kimonos. Haruka Tenoh, who today looks about three times older than you ever thought she could get, showed up about halfway through to belt out a mix of Engrish slam poetry and Japanized showtunes. As it dragged on, the more dedicated carousers were being led out in mating pairs by weary bouncers.
As things wound down, I slipped backstage and waited for Ms. Tenoh to run by. As soon as she came into view, I asked – a bit too loudly – about Sailor Moon. A twist of shock passed her face; she turned away and pressed on down the hall. I started after her, but as I turned a corner, a sharp crack against my skull dropped me cold.
Face down in the broken alley concrete, a taste of blood in my mouth. Mooks cocking their guns behind me. Another fine day in Usagi. A door opens, the sound of heels clopping out. “Forget it,” she said icily. “We don’t need the local swine sniffing around here.” Out of the corner of my eye, a shock of greying blonde hair, a glint of moonlight off a crescent lapel pin. “He’s trash,” she said in perfect English. “He’ll just wake up and crawl back to his dumpster. If he comes around again, run him out of town.”