Trapeze 03: Chicken
The writing is really tight on this series. Wow. Check out the first 5 minutes:
Our patient is a romance novelist. His neurosis is a psychologically induced nausea. Basically, he’s at the top of his game and he’s got loads of fans. But he’s starting, like all successful writers do after a certain point, to plagiarize himself. He knows this, he doesn’t like this, and it makes him want to vomit. He can’t even keep track of what he’s written about anymore, almost as if his body of work is swallowing him whole. An interviewer asks him about his next story and he makes up something on the spur on the moment [using the legendary Keyser Söze method], only to have her comment: “oh well, sounds just like one of your stories”!!
When he goes to Dr. Irabu’s office, the bear puppet is sitting on the chair while Bear Irabu is actually behind a screen acting as ventriloquist. Irabu asks the novelist why he’s written his surname as Toriyama (Tori = chicken!) and then added Hoshiyama (hoshi = star!!) in parentheses. The novelist says Hoshiyama is his pen name, and adds arrogantly that he’s a very famous writer and whether the doctor’s never heard of him. Irabu hasn’t, and he asks Mayumi: “Is he famous?”
Mayumi replies “Well, I only read Rockin’ On magazine [so I wouldn’t know].” Two things happen immediately after this sentence is uttered: 1) We remember she was shown reading Toriyama‘s book Tomorrow that same day [Dec. 17] in episode 2. We know that Hoshiyama has gone after ep 2’s govt. worker Tetsuya because there’s an extra syringe in the bin after he’s been injected. Therefore, Mayumi was reading Jun’ichi Toriyama’s book just before Toriyama/Hoshiyama came in the door. Is she flat out lying?
2) Hoshiyama catches a glimpse of Mayumi and thinks “hmmm…how about a sadistic nurse”. He then rushes to vomit, on the verge of remembering that he has used that device already in his novels.
Mayumi comes over and injects Hoshiyama with the usual “vitamin shot” while Irabu holds him downs. He grows a chicken head as a result. THIS ALL HAPPENS WITHIN THE FIRST 5 MINUTES OF THE SHOW, AND I’M NOT SUBTRACTING THE OP!!!
Kid Irabu shows up at Hoshiyama’s place in the middle of the night and finds Tomorrow on his shelf, evidently the one book that Hoshiyama wrote under his real name.
Everything starts to get clear at this point: Hoshiyama’s fear is not a fear of copying himself or being exposed as some washed-up hack. As Irabu tells him, whether he’s written about a sadistic nurse, or a calligrapher or a cellist before is not the issue. Hoshiyama will vomit whether he has or hasn’t done X or Y, because his real fear is that he isn’t being true to himself with his career as a romance novelist. Hoshiyama is sick of being “Hoshiyama” and wants to go back to being Toriyama, a writer of serious issues, but he’s scared he will not be successful.
After some dealings with a perverted auteur and talks with his sports writer friend, another patient of Irabu’s, Hoshiyama goes an extra step further in his self-analysis: it’s not that he hates writing romance novels, it’s his own stardom and the way it forces him to pump out stuff without feeling. The new Toriyama/Hoshiyama will write his novels as he sees fit, without denying either the romance side or the serious side. He’s cured.
I like these “extra steps” here. Back in episode 02 the patient learns to be angry at his ex, and then he takes an extra step to realize that it’s futile to take revenge on her. The general idea seems to be: “assert your future without taking revenge on your past“.
I was kinda shocked at Mayumi’s talk with Hoshiyama at the end. She confirms that he wrote Tomorrow, praises the work and then asks him to keep writing more in that style. Finally, she scampers off like a smitten teenager. Hmmm..I bet you if he had chased her she’d have beaten him up!