Monday, October 19, 2015

Let's Play Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Chapter 06 Akihabara's Serial "Spiriting Away" Case

Kyouko thinks our next step should be to do some information gathering. With the documentation investigation in Matayoshi's hands, we need to explore Kamishiro inside and out. Just then, a visitor arrives...

It's the policewoman from the prologue and chapter 2! Ms. Date is here looking into detective Matayoshi's "secret weapon." She thinks this is a real shady business we have going here; Kyouko welcomes her to the Kuremi detective agency, asking if the Tokyo metropolitan police department's Date Makiko has a request of us. Date is here to investigate our offices, and recognizes us from before. As it happens, she wants us to help her the way we help Matayoshi. Kyouko assures her that we're just an ordinary bunch of detectives, but we naturally have an obligation to help the police where they need it. Kyouko passes this on to us before stepping out; her obligation is our obligation, and vice-versa.

Date: ...Hey. Right now, you ain't thinkin something dirty, are ya? ...Hmmm. Right, yer under arrest.

Chapter 06 Akihabara's Serial "Spiriting Away" Case

Date wants to know if we've heard the rumors about Akihabara's "spiriting away" incidents. (She's talking about 神隠し kamikakushi; missing persons cases in which someone is "hidden by god," disappeared without any logical explanation. This is the same type of spiriting away titular to Miyazaki's Spirited Away.) Already, ten people in Akihabara have been confirmed to have disappeared, and the police are flooded with requests for missing persons. This is a huge case, and she's really frustrated about it--it seems that "again" she won't be of any help to Detective Matayoshi. (This is a play on Matayoshi's name. Here "again" is mata.) So she wants to use his secret weapon to solve the case.

Ms. Date's speech is incredibly casual for a police officer, the complete opposite of what you'd expect--she's really more legit punk than Jimmy Ken. Because of her truncated, rough, slang-heavy, sound effect-laden speech style, she's actually pretty hard to understand. It's one of the few times that phonetics are more difficult than kanji.

Date downloads the case data onto our Digivice, including a list of the missing persons, and information about Akihabara's spiritings-away. We're going to figure this one out, but we're also not going to tell Matayoshi we're helping her. But just as she's filling us in, Matayoshi calls her, and Date leaves telling us to investigate the people on that list.

We get the keyword Missing Persons of Akiba's Spiriting Away.

Kyouko discusses this case that we've taken. Date seems to be a troubling partner to work with, but Kyouko figures this is her karma. Our first step is to get more information about Akihabara's disappearances. As her assistant, Kyouko will be entrusting us with this case, and naturally she'll support us as before.

Before departing, I pick up this five-star rarity Skull Mammon medal.

 This chapter adds Akihabara to our map.

Akihabara has a somewhat-deserved reputation as a nerd mecca. In the aftermath of World War II it became a booming center of the nascent electronics market, and has repeatedly overgrown itself over time into an expansive cornerstone of Japan's tech culture. I've heard anecdotes of certain people that don't fit the mold of its usual customers outright refusing to enter the district. As for what that mold is, the fact that the Toucanmon in Digimon Frontier that were part of Ranamon's fanclub wanted to go to "Akiba Market" to sell their stolen Digivices is pretty indicative of it. (And on a related note, any fan that watched Frontier has some indirect exposure to it; the "Autumn Leaf Fair" is a parody of the city.)

Cyber Sleuth's rendition of Akihabara is filled with the usual suspects, otaku from the countryside on pilgrimages to the "Electric Town," young men obsessed with becoming the Number One Fans of moe anime girls, and regular old video game nerds. The store space is populated by arcades, card shops, and electronics stores; I would not be surprised in the slightest if those Sega banners are true-to-life.

This cat maid is selling recovery items for status effects. The only one we don't already have any of is Dot Recovery, which is going to prove very necessary in the future. Of the six status problems in Cyber Sleuth, Dot is easily the worst because it can't be cured just by waiting; the status effect permanently reduces the afflicted Digimon to an LCD sprite state, soft capping its stats at abysmal lows while the status is active and locking off all options except for Attack and Item.

On the far side of Akihabara is this Golemon medal.

Of all the people we can talk to, we need to use the Disappeared Persons keyword with this Repulsive Young Otaku. (Kimomena Otaku Seinen) He immediately launches into a panic, wondering if we're with the police, but when we say we're just a detective he calms down. This man has some information for us about the disappearances, but it won't come free.

As it happens, the Repulsive Young Otaku is in love, but he's too shy to speak to the girl of his dreams. He needs help communicating his "pure pure love " for her, and wants us to talk to this girl, get her full name, street address, and Digiline exchange for what he assures us is superb and rare information. As for the girl, she wears glasses, is pure and tidy, has long hair, and she was here in this "sacred ground" of Akiba not long ago. She's also an assistant at the florist's.

We get the keyword Flower Shop Clerk.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: ...He's over there again... Hurry and go away...

We need to use the Flower Shop Clerk keyword with this girl.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: That disgusting man, he's a stalker!

Apparently she's been having some trouble with this particular stalker for a while. Him being over there is the reason she's on this side of the street. When she hears that we're a detective, she asks us if we can communicate her feelings to him--that is, chase him off.


(I sat here for a bit thinking about how underprepared I am to render ORAORA KONO KIMOOTOKO GAAA!! into any language)

Disgusting Man: Uwaaaahhh trembletrembleshakeshake!?


Disgusting Man: Fumyuuu, rattlerattleshakeshake!? I'm sorryyy! I'll tell you anything! Aaaa, uh, um, I have friends y'know!? On the EDEN foruuums!?
A friend of the friend of the friend of the Disgusting Man's friend disappeared, and he found out about it through the EDEN forums.

Disgusting Man: Ththth, ththis onnneee!! The Comic Mania Forum! Also known as ComiMani Forummmm!!
Disgusting Man: No, it's no probleeeemmmm!!

 Fortunately, we can just pop over to the access point in the same area to reach the forums

The ComiMani Forum is the fourth level of the initial areas, on the same tier as the EDEN Entrance.

We want to talk to this Kansai-Speaking Girl to progress the story. When she hears we're a detective, she admits that in reality, she has some idea of who the criminal is--and she has reason to believe they're in this forum! The girl wants us to meet with her in the real world to talk, at the secondhand bookstore in Nakano prefecture.

(The Kansai dialect is a southwestern dialect of Japanese, sometimes equated with a Brooklyn accent in English. Some prominent stand-up comedians also spoke Kansai dialect, as did Digimon Adventure's very own Tentomon. This is one aspect of the first series anime that never translated to the west; it's a running gag in Japan that no one understands why Tentomon speaks in Kansai dialect, not even him.)

We run into Arata on the way out, who's wondering what we're doing on this type of forum. He's relieved to hear that we're just investigating a case. Arata's intrigued that the perpetrator behind the Akiba disappearances might be in this forum, and decides to join us on our visit to Nakano. When we ask what's he's doing here Arata gets evasive, insisting he was only interested because he mistook it for a Communist Manufacture (コミュニスト・マニファクチュア) forum.

This scene gives us a bit more insight into what sort of guy Arata is--we're browsing a マニア Mania forum for comic book enthusiasts, something that's not exactly otaku but is exactly equivalent to the Poké Maniac trainer class in Pokémon. Obviously Arata wasn't here for the same reasons as us; he's a comic maniac himself! He's got plenty of incentive to dissociate with that idea.

 We need to head back to the broadway to meet with our informant, and that means...

Digimedal time! This one's Whamon.

Our informant is on the third floor, next to the Nakano Mandarake. Mandarake is a real Tokyoite brand of used bookstores, though they're more notable for dealing in less booky products like anime figures, old media, and doujinshi. Like the Tower Records crossover in chapter five, this is an officially-sponsored promotion by Mandarake. As I remember, Mandarake had some sort of partial exclusivity deal in Japan where you could get Cyber Sleuth earlier at their outlets than you could in other stores.

Hey. Would ya look at that. That guy in the top right. Guess who I completely forgot to talk to and thus missed permanently? :V He only has a Demon medal and stat-enhancing item during this chapter, but this might lock me out of getting a certain item in the endgame. We'll see.

The Kansai-Speaking Girl chews us out for making her wait a thousand years. She was getting old waiting for us! Anyway, as she thought the culprit is likely a ComiMani member. The ComiMani forums are for people to gather and discuss, as well as draw manga. A little while before, someone uploaded an original manga to the ComiMani website, but the story and characters gave readers a sense of déjà vu. The forum members started posting nasty comments about the author because she was perceived as unoriginal. That was when the disappearances started happening, and only to the people that posted those comments.

Moreover, only officially registered forum members could upload manga to the website. Considering the obvious relationship between the list of disappeared persons and the members that posted comments, the one that uploaded that manga is likely the culprit. Unfortunately, that manga and all the comments related to it have been absolutely deleted. The Kansai-Speaking Girl is worried that she's also gotten herself in trouble by being involved. The forum space itself has a strange air to it now.

I don't want to go through it line by line, but there's an embedded joke here about the protagonist being boke/funny guy yet not boke and also tsukkomi/straight man, all in spite of his serious face. They're only making the joke at all because there's a character that speaks in Kansai dialect; manzai comedy is associated heavily with it because of the number of manzai comedians that are also Kansai speakers. (There's a similarly-themed joke in Digimon Adventure where Koushirou pretends he was practicing a one-man manzai to hide the fact that he's keeping Tentomon in his room from his parents.)

Arata sneaks up on us from behind, muttering about the idea that data could be absolutely deleted. Certainly to an amateur's eyes, it might appear that way. We should leave this one to him; he'll use the detective office PC to do it.

Arata goes through the site's log, searching for the path of the deleted data. By intruding into EDEN's general purpose server and finding the path data, Arata can repair the original comments. But what he finds there isn't normal; the composition resembles a Digimon program. Arata suspects that this data could be related to the Eater. He tracks the bizarre data's position to the Cron Junk Park, and wants to directly confirm that this dangerous program has a connection to the Eater.

Kyouko thinks Arata's pretty good. He's like our assistant--and the assistant of her assistant is also her assistant.

We need to Cron's first level for this, but as we get to the Junk Park, the scene cuts away...

The Kansai-Speaking Girl thinks she's gotten into trouble, and it would've been better to go to the police. She wonders if that detective's solved this yet...

KSG recognizes her friend, saying it's been an awfully long time since they saw one another. She tried to contact her, but got no reply. She was worried that she might've been spirited away.

Kansai-Speaking Girl: Eh? Whattsa matter? Thas a scary face yer makin'... Go to Akiba? Well,  wasn't planning to but... Well... Why don't we?

(I think this scene may be the cutoff point for Victory Uchida in this chapter, it's either this one or a different one further down.)

Back in Cron, Arata asks if we're prepared for this. The data washed up in the back of Lv. 1, but there's a possibility that it contains a dangerous program.

It's fine, it's fine!
Luck is also one of my abilities!

Arata's Keramon has since evolved to a Chrysalimon, and joins us as a guest character for this dungeon. He has a pretty useful skill that reduces an opposing Digimon's defense for several turns, but otherwise doesn't do a ton for me in this chapter.

The file lies at the broken logout point, and we have to use the Code Scan hacking skill from the previous chapter to get it.

 Arata begins to work on the file, finding a strange link that still leads somewhere.

But we're interrupted, as something accesses this area from the link!

We're immediately thrown into a battle against Wisemon, but he's not even a real boss. This version of Wiseman is fractional compared to a regular one's stats.

He doesn't even get a turn. Bruno using Saint Knuckle II deals 3x damage due to Wisemon being Virus-Dark, and this right here takes out 50-60% of his hit points in one blow.

Wisemon: GU... GIGI... GI. DO...N'T LOOK--
Arata: Uh!?
Wisemon: DON'T LOOK--

Wisemon escapes, but Arata's able to track him back to a Net Café Arahabaki, a back alley property in Akiba. It's beneath an old bookstore; as Arata would put it, we've hit Three Sevens, the jackpot.

Arata: ...Eh? Report it to the police? You mean that lady detective that cosplays a policewoman?

(Arata doesn't have the best impression of Date, huh?)

Back to Akihabara!

 Arata's a little frustrated that we called the police. He'd rather not cooperate with them on this.

 As we approach the café, a familiar effect takes over...

It's just like the Shinjuku Mayohiga! Arata concludes that an Eater must be around, but just which way do we go from here?

(If the cutoff for Victory Uchida isn't after the KSG cutscene above, it's probably here. You can't leave the dungeon until you complete it.)

The gimmick for this dungeon is that the path is periodically blocked by televisions, preventing us from taking the most direct route to the boss. These also use a neat graphical effect that make them a little there and a little not. An entire TV doesn't display at once, instead you see only portions of it in each frame.

Arata: Wait, that's...! Mari!! Mari! Hey, you are Mari!? Get a hold of yourself!

Arata: Why, Mari... Did they get you? Don't tell me... After that, the culprit...!?
We tell Arata to calm down. After getting a breath, he says this phenomenon should disappear as soon as we clean up the Eater in this area. Then, Mari should return to normal.

There are twelve victims spread out throughout this dungeon, and all of them appear to be alive, but don't respond when we talk to them. A neat visual cue is that both in and out of cutscenes they stand completely still, rather than moving slightly the way the protagonist and Arata do. They don't even blink.

 Up ahead, we see a familiar face...

Suedou Akemi! Arata's surprised to see him here, but figures out that Suedou must have predicted the phenomenon would hit this place. Suedou says he's exactly right; this space was created by the digital wave that he's trying to observe directly, in what he's calling a shift. (Written with the Japanese characters 転移 "transition (i.e. phase transition)" but pronounced using the English word "shift.") Suedou's finally named this phenomenon, Digital Shift.

>> No, this is the "Mayohiga" phenomenon!
When you announce it to society, please call it "Mayohiga!"
Suedou: Mai Yoh, Hih Gah? Well, it does have a certain flavor to it, and the sound is somehow nostalgic, but... It's already been decided, I'm calling this phenomenon the Digital Shift!
Suedou confirms Arada's theory that defeating the Eater will revert this space to normal, just like last time.

Something which I forgot to show in chapter 4 is that you can use Suedou as a regular shop when you're in a Digital Shift dungeon.

Further in, we come across the Disgusting Man, who's met the same fate as Mari and the other victims. Arata asks if we know him; he's not on the list of ComiMani forum members. We try to explain the stalking fiasco, but Arata doesn't really get it. If this guy's not from the forum, what's the connection?

Gold Numemon is a rare encounter in this dungeon, and the only one that gets a reasonable number of turns versus our party of Perfects. They're a lot like Ogremon/Delumon/other low-chance encounters in the original Digimon Story in that they drop a huge amount of XP and yen relative to the point where they first appear, and are functionally a random encounter boss, although this is far from the most you can get in one fight.

Gold Numemon drops the Friendship USB on defeat, which can be equipped to increase the probability of a Xros Combo Attack triggering by 10%. The effects of USB items stack, so we could farm multiple Friendship USBs to abuse Xros Combo more often, but it's not going to be worth the time investment given how we're already dominating the game.

Finding and touching the orb seen ~10 screenshots back causes a set of televisions to disappear a little ways from where we began, opening the path to the boss.

Tidy Girl with Glasses: Have to draw... Have to draw... Have to draw...
Arata: N... No way... YOU'RE the one behind these disappearances... !?

Tidy Girl with Glasses: Oh, Sanada-kun...? Eh, is it Sanada-kun? Waa, Sanada-kun! It really is you!
Arata: Nishino-san... Seriously... What are you doing...?
Tidy Girl with Glasses: You mean... You wanted to see? I'm drawing manga! Come... Look, look!

Nishino: Look, look look look look! At this, at that! This manga I put all my thought into! Not a derivative work... It's so original, isn't it!? The perfect, the one and only, my original!!
Arata: Nishino-san...
Nishino: Well!? Well, Sanada-kun!? Aren't I amazing...!? With this flawless manga I drew, am I ready for my debut...!? I can become a pro mangaka now, can't I!?
Arata: You said you drew a manga...? I don't get it at all... Where's your manga? Seriously, this isn't funny.

Nishino: ...Sanada-kun also speaks ill of my manga. It's exactly, exactly as I thought... Isn't it...

Arata: It's THAT Digimon...!? Just because it's the one in charge or whatever, does it have to be that gigantic!?
Nishino: Sanada-kun, you're with them... My works, my nonsense, speak ill of, my dream, a hinder, call foolish, mock, and shame. Everything is also as if it were nothing, so laugh at it, and live.
Arata: Touya, this one's dangerous...

Nishino: I made them stop laughing... With this, anything will be as I wish it to be. The manga I drew... It became real. Sanada-kun, I'll make you stop laughing. But... Do I absolutely have to kill you? Because my manga will become complete. You all... You all, will become my readers...! The captives of my manga...! You will become that! And then, please, will you be silent? Please, and then, don't ever look at anything again? Don't look, don't look, don't look, don'tlook DON'TLOOKDON'TLOOKDON'TLOOKDON'TLOOK


So, Wisemon. His stats are vastly inflated compared to the watered-down version we fought before; his Speed is enough that he can guarantee himself one turn for each of our three unless we engage in Speed boosting (guess what we're doing). He's also able to wipe out everyone in our party in two to three hits with multitarget skills, which makes me tempted to learn just how bad this fight would be with a more normal party.

 Saint Knuckle II still hits for 25% of his maximum HP, and a four-hit KO is good enough for me.

Andiramon's Data attribute makes her horrible for this fight, so for the most part I relegate her to item chucking. A few times we bring out Asipatravana to chip away at Wisemon, mostly at the end.

Wisemon has Hell Crasher II, a multitarget magic Dark skill with a base power of 35 that hits all enemies. This is actually Wisemon's chief means of winning the fight, even though it's not his primary damage dealing move.

Pandora Dialogue is Wisemon's unique skill, which takes off 20% HP from each of our Digimon, but deals 10% in recoil damage to Wisemon. Percentile damage ensures that he can remain a little threatening even to high-level parties, while still being a self-defeating boss for lower-level ones. Because of how it's set up, Pandora Dialogue can't actually finish anyone, but it's very effective at forcing you into a defensive position regardless of how prepared you are. His other abilities are Reflect Mirror (responds with a counter if magical attacks are used) and Nightmare III, a single target Dark skill with 95 base power. Nightmare III can let him easily dispatch a weakened Data Digimon, while his primary combination for dealing with other attributes is alternating Pandora Dialogue and Hell Crasher II.

Wisemon drops a Memory Up on defeat.

Nishino: That... My dream... Without that... I can't draw anymore...
Arata: Nishino-san... I was really looking forward to your manga though...? I got the feeling you really enjoyed drawing manga...I could only read [and not draw], so I could look forward to it, and I thought I envied you. So, seeing you become this... Honestly, I can't believe in you anymore. Sorry for not noticing [how you felt], Nishino-san.
Nishino: Sanada...Kun... I... Just wanted everyone... To enjoy it...But, inside me... Something began to grow... I couldn't stop it... Why... Why did I...

Arata: This's bad, you need to run...!!

Nishino: A, a... AAaAAAAaAAA... !!

Arata: Ni-Nishino-san...!? ...Yyyou! I'll never forgive you!

The main challenge behind this Eater is that it comes right after Wiseman. The Eater actually has very low HP, but incredibly high defensive parameters. Even my Digimon were only dealing ~30 damage to it, which was still a significant portion of its hit points. The Eater's main abilities are debuff skills like Attack Break and Spirit Crash, interrupted by it "Observing" the party. What Observing leads to I have no idea, because it didn't last that long.

After we defeat the Eater, the Digital Shift fades away. The way Suedou explained it before, the Eater is the one that emits the digital waves that eventually condense into a Shift, creating a space that is both digital and real.

Officer Date thinks this is a really weird case. We're reporting that each of the disappeared persons has been returned safely, but with no memory of the disappearances.

The culprit's also been found unconscious, with EDEN Syndrome. Date thinks we know something more, but lets it go this time.

Arata is shocked to hear that Nishino has EDEN Syndrome. He quickly draws a conclusion: The Eater eats data. Humans inside a Digital Shift take on a half-digital state, and the Eater we encountered in EDEN ate our mind data, robbing us of our body in the real world. Therefore, that is EDEN Syndrome. But what should the treatment be? If we defeat the Eater, will it get back our data? Defeating the Eater we encountered today didn't bring back Nishino. Arata decides he needs to ask the old man Suedo for more information, and runs off on his own.

Kyouko has her own theories about our big adventure. For one, that big Digimon we encountered. She seems to recall a man having a particular influence on a Digimon, and conversely, the girl we encountered today also had an influence on a Digimon. The feelings she was holding in the depths of her heart--delusions of grandeur, a deep-rooted desire for approval, and egoism--these inner workings of her mind called a Digimon to her, and it began to control her entirely. Inside the Mayohiga, their bond strengthened to the point of displaying as a paranormal force. Although she was not a hacker, that girl could still use a Digimon. The cause of this incident was the bonding of a Digimon and a human.

This is a plot lifted more or less directly from Digimon Savers. The first arc of Savers follow a general thread of Digimon forming connections to humans with strong emotions and then enabling them to act on those desires, whether that was robbing a bank or rigging horse races. It's also sometimes interpreted as a response by Savers to Digimon Adventure 02's idea of all humans eventually having a partner Digimon, and what that could lead to. You could make the case that picking up that idea again and continuing off of something Savers started, Cyber Sleuth is inserting itself in Digimon's "line of succession," branching off from the fifth season instead of Xros Wars.

Kyouko thanks us for resolving the case, but has her concerns about Suedou Akemi. She wants to know why he was inside the Mayohiga alone, despite being aware of the dangers in entering. His motives remain vague, and anything we try to guess at this point will just be jumping to conclusions.

"You got 1000 CSP."

"Would you like to save?"

The revelation that it was Nishino all along in this chapter is an important swerve because of how it changes the character dynamics initially established. Nishino's feelings that no one appreciated her just because of some comments made on the internet are what called Wisemon out in the first place, enabling her to get revenge. But her feelings didn't reflect reality. Arata, Mari, and the Disgusting Man all appreciated her, but Arata never told her he liked her manga until it was already too late, while the Disgusting Man only saw the pure image he wanted to see in her, and never her real self as an artist. In the end, she turned on all of them, and her obsessive need to be validated as an artist destroyed her emotionally. It could have easily been a "the dog did it" moment to this mystery, but because of how the characters are introduced it comes off as clever because this flips around the dynamics you assume. (Not unlike the role reversal in the manzai act; the Tokyo-raised protagonist is better at it than the Kansai girl.) The stalker is the victim, the flower shop clerk is the "killer," and the seemingly-trivial relationship between the stalker and the informant is actually the basis for the disappearances.

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