Hiroshi is an enigma locked up in a puzzle box within a riddle. Part wise elder. Part horny frat boy. He is a complex mixture of honor, devotion and secret shame. He is also in the top two of my “favorite characters I have created” list. This memorable character initially started out as a side kick for Gideon. As I explored his origins and motives, Hiroshi became a force whose secrets drive the rest of the Mutant Casebook Series.
In the second installment of the series, I open the book with a peek at one of Hiroshi’s dark secrets. He has been on the run from the law for escaping Manzanar, one of the WWII Japanese internment camps. The Calamity (See Blog Post “Inside the World of the Mutant Casebook” from January 13) catches him before the law can.
I will always remember the day my father drove us past the desolate dirt fields of Topaz, the Japanese Internment Camp in Utah. Only the foundations remained then. I remember how the wind beat at the boxy timbers and wondered how anyone could live in such a place. Though I don’t know how old I was, I do know that day changed my perspective on life. It taught me sometimes good people do bad things out of fear. I suppose Hiroshi was born out of that day.
Hiroshi leaned over and grabbed a few folds of the dead hunter’s coat. He lovingly wiped the blood from his blade. The overly large sleeves of his robes swung precariously over the pooling blood. Gideon rolled his eyes as he took in Hiroshi’s latest outfit. He was dressed in a Dôbuku sugata, a leisure garment worn by ancient samurai or at least one Samurai in particular. From the navy robe to the straw rope sandals, Hiroshi was playing Sanjuro Kuwabatake.
“You’ve been watching Yojimbo again.” Gideon stuffed his blaster back into place.
“What can I say? My new little friend loves the classics.” Hiroshi flashed an obscene grin at the bar maid and then brushed aside his horse hair straight pony tail over his shoulder. Patches of red and white formed a spray paint pattern against Hiroshi’s midnight black hair. “Besides, I was dressing the part. It looks like a scene from A Fistful of Dollars in here.” Casting a cursory gaze across Gideon’s form, his eyes rested on the blasters hanging on Gideon’s hips. “Clint.”
Hiroshi sheathed his sword and stood majestically, making sure his bar maid friend had the full view of Japanese manhood. He wagged his eyebrows at Gideon and winked. “I think I’ll go with the cuddly house kitty. You’ve got this covered, right?”
His form shimmered for a moment and then dwindled in swirls of white, red and black. Seconds later, a Japanese Bobtail cat stretched lazily on the bar floor. Its small body had large patches of black and red spilling across silky white fur. Hiroshi was a bakeneko, or werecat. He had three settings: annoying human, cute woman-magnet kitty, and large predator cat. He was also the only male bakeneko in the Outskirts, or the human world for that matter.
Few people made the mistake of teasing Hiroshi about his uniqueness. And if they did, they’d quickly wish they’d kept their jokes to themselves. It was a sore spot with Hiroshi…that and his bad Haiku.