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2005.11.30 Wednesday

I noticed a boy in front of the train station this morning. He looked like a junior high school student. He only wore a short-sleeve shirt on his torso, and he had a sports bag slung over his right shoulder. He walked with a brisk gait.

The temperature drops below 10 celsius in mornings and evenings, even though winter has just begun. The cold didn't feel fresh and pleasant this morning... the chill wormed into our skin, straight through our jackets.

That could pass for a good conversation-starter since everyone feels the cold. "This morning I saw an energetic student striding spiritedly, even in this weather!" I couldn't honestly predicate conversation with that observation however. It's simply untrue.

The student hugged his bag as though trying to squeeze warmth from it. I couldn't see his face, but his hunched back told me that his whole body was stiff and shaking. His posture proclaimed, "I'm freezing!" I don't know whether he had a blazer or a stand-up collar style school uniform... either way, he must have forgotten his jacket at school.

I wondered... did he have a reason for missing his jacket? Had he quarreled with his parents? Did he even have parents?

Had he been too poor for a jacket?

I decided that he probably hadn't been too poor. Mostly wealthy families live in that area. Nonetheless, why only a short-sleeve shirt?

I continued to observe him. I moved closer to him, wanting an answer. The boy walked without changing his posture.

The affair wasn't my business, of course. Still, he clearly had a definite reason. I couldn't help but speculate on it.

Did the cold only frost his skin? Or had winter's ice hardened his mind?

"Winter weakens everyone. The cold wind blanks our faces, and courage dies in weather's violence."

Can that young man survive winter?

I absorbed myself in these thoughts-and he disappeared around a corner. I might sound cruel writing this, but I felt as though the temperature had risen a bit once he had disappeared from my sight. I felt oddly relieved.

KojiPro's offices feel hot. We have many computers and other work apparati that give off heat. No one here wears more than a single layer to work, even in winter. Some staff members only wear T-shirts.

The programming staff feels the most intense heat. Even in winter, almost twenty percent of them wear T-shirts because the largest number of heat-emitting devices surrounds them.

I take the heat in a T-shirt too. I used to wear a light sweater all the time when I had my office in Tokyo's Ebisu district. I almost always wear a long-sleeve T-Shirt since I've moved to the Hills. We might have larger offices now, or we might simply have more heated machines.

I have started to wear light garments underneath a thick jacket or coat since I started working at the Hills. I can't deal with the office heat otherwise.

We never feel cold in here. KojiPro stays tropical even during winter. The boy who I saw this morning probably arrived at school, and then he became freed from the cold and loneliness. I am likewise freed here. Warm places exist even during winter. We can resist the cold as long as we have these places.

We spent the morning in a meeting. War buddies don't exist in the meeting room. It's a battle between a lot of different officers. Some continue fighting when they don't realize that they have been shot.

Why was it so cold in there? The temperature in there had dropped remarkably from the development studio's temperature.

We have to remember some things during a meeting. We must recognize that we make cold, objective decisions in our platoon headquarters. Soldiers don't bring their emotions onto the battlefield under any circumstances. I still haven't adjusted myself to those rules, so perhaps I'm not very mature.

The meeting lasted longer than scheduled, and it prevented me from going to the bookstore. I had wanted to breathe fresh air during lunch time, but I couldn't get my wish today.

I never handle mail during a meeting. I handle the bulk afterward. Today I took care of it while I ate sushi bento. The more popular bento had already sold out, so I took the one that the shop had left.

I hardly tasted my food... I didn't feel very stable after that meeting. I swallowed each bite whole to calm the pain in my gut. The room's temperature felt high, but I felt winter bristle in my mind.

I decided to take HIDEOBLOG's readers' comments as a side dish to my bento. I ate hungrily. Many of the comments were delectable, and sometimes tears welled in my eyes because I had hit upon a comment flushed with wasabi.

My war buddies across the internet compensated for the dearth inside the office. I'll keep my chin up.

At 3 P.M. I had an interview with Mono Magazine. They will print a special feature article on video games in their end-of-the-year issue.

They asked me, "Have you wanted anything particular lately?"

I answered, "I'd like to have time more than 'anything particular'."

The vinyl figurine for Ex-Kamen Rider 1 (Ex-1) was released. Yoshiteru, the king of hobbies, bought it for me. I added the figurine to my special shelf reserved for Ex-1.

I'm a fan of Kamen Rider generally, but I love Ex-1 most of all. I have mentioned this in my serial article Interview with the Inspired Naked for this month's Hyper PlayStation 2 magazine. I have titled the article The Movies That Created Hideo Kojima.

I harbor a special passion for Ex-1, though that's probably only a matter of my generation. My heroes are Tiger Mask, Kamen Rider, and Ashita no Joe.

Many more problems cropped up at KojiPro besides the meeting. I felt more and more depressed. I always enjoy problems that arise while creating a game of course, but today's problems weren't related to creation. I needed to resolve them nonetheless. That's part of my job too... these things don't just go away.

I missed the days when I simply created games. I asked myself how long this frigid, stiff life would continue.

And suddenly I remembered the morning's boy. I hadn't realized it, but there's a sense in which I didn't have a jacket either.

Had he been my doppelganger? A luminous shadow? Had I seen a premonitory vision?

KojiPro sweltered like a greenhouse, but I shivered with toothy chills.

I was too busy to update HIDEOBLOG before the end of the day. I had written until 2 A.M. last night, but none of it was readable since I had been drinking. I tried to make corrections to HIDEOBLOG while I ate a sandwich bento in the evening too.

Everything seems meaningless.

I hardly had time to eat today.

All of the participants for OOOO Training had gathered on the fourteenth floor to watch a certain pre-training film. Mr. Mori had given it to us. He gave instructions to watch it before training, no excuses.

I have actually seen it in the theaters, but Mr. Mori advised me to rewatch it. I didn't have time for that of course, but all the other main members went to the fourteenth floor. KojiPro had a holiday's silence.

I received the final copy for Subsistence's and MGA2's commercials. Sony Computer Entertainment will broadcast them by the end of the year.

I really want those games to become hits.

I felt as though I saw myself at that moment, while I watched the MGA2 commercial. I felt only one difference between the commercial and myself: things in the commercial exploded with heat, and I felt exploded with coldness.

Mr. Senju reported our progress with the provisional schedule for Subsistence's release events.

"Will you have enough stamina for this, Director?" He looked at me pretty hard. "I still have my doubts about this. I can't say that it looks fun so far. Do you really think we ought to push ourselves to a twenty-four hour marathon's pace?"

"A twenty-four hour marathon pace... could we do something like that?"

I knew that Mr. Senju didn't need to answer when I saw his expression. The truth was written on his face.

"As I see it, we need to push this thing hard. We need to make it outrageous to the point that everyone will see what's going on and say, 'What the hell?!' Don't you agree?"

"Yeah. I think you're right." Mr. Senju assented.

I had traveled around Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto for various events during last year's release tour. We had a tough schedule, but I really enjoyed it. The events happened all over the place and at all times... morning in Kyoto, the afternoon in Osaka, then over to Kobe, and back again to Osaka.

That schedule had really seemed impossible. We were so crunched for time that we actually traveled from the Shin-Osaka train station to Kobe via an old railroad line.

We had all worn khaki windbreakers with "MGS3" printed on the backs, and we wound up on a train packed with passengers. Complete strangers went out of their way to cheer us up on the JR Tokaido Line. Folks on the train platform often called for us to stop so they could shake our hands. I felt like I had reached my limit physically, but I made sure to spend as much energy for those fans as I had at TGS.

This year's schedule looks tougher than last year's. I wonder if I can make it. No, I'll have to do it. I'll just pay close attention to my physical well-being until the release date.

Ms. Sato and Ucchi entered my booth in the evening. "We found this, Director. Isn't it your iPod? You must have forgotten it."

I looked and saw that they held a silver iPod-Mini with white headphones attached. I showed them my green iPod-Mini on the desk. "No, this is mine."

They looked at my iPod. Their faces grew troubled. "So whose is this?"

"Do you mind if I check it out?"

"You think you'll be able to tell?"

"I'm certain that I can infer the owner from his music."

I took the iPod-Mini, turned it on, and selected the Artist Category from the menu. All of the items in the window were Japanese. Furthermore, I saw mostly very recent singers, with a few old-fashioned bands here and there.

"So what's the verdict?"


I suspected who owned the iPod-Mini, but I wasn't absolutely sure yet. It was still only a hunch.

I next selected the Album Category and read the titles as I turned the touchpad. The names ran by... Anzenchitai 1, Anzenchitai 2, Anzenchitai 3, Anzenchitai 4, Anzenchitai 5, and so on.

"I see...."

They reacted as soon as I had spoken. "Did you figure it out?"

"I did."

"So whose is it?" They leaned forward as though scrutinizing a card trick.

"Wait a second... I'm going to put the final nail in the coffin."

I turned the touchpad again. "Aha! Here it is!" The exact title that I had expected appeared in the window.

"Whose is it then?"

"It's Murashu's."

"Oh? How do you know? It doesn't show a name on it."

"An iPod is a kind of personal ID. We can learn the owner's musical tastes according to its contents." I explained everything as though I was Kosuke Kindaichi, the famous Japanese sleuth.

"Okay. So what's the clincher?"

"Look here… this! No one except Murashu would put this on an iPod."

I showed the player to them. Track titles from the Tokimeki Memorial Drama CD appeared all in a row.

"Oh... so Murashu-san listens to this?"

"I'll just return this to him."

Murashu had produced radio dramas for the Konami Media Entertainment division before he came to Konami-JPN. He had produced the MGS Drama CD.

He devoted most of his work toward a radio drama for the Tokimeki series. It had been a big hit at the time, broadcasted by Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, Inc. The program was later released as a Drama CD.

Murashu had put all of his radio productions on his iPod! He likes to listen to dramas that he produced himself. No one else is such a narcissist. That was the clincher.

Now that I think about it, an iPod's contents amount to quite personal information. From this alone we can learn a person's tastes, preferences, behavioral tendencies, and lifestyle. Junk mail companies would kill to get their hands on that data, as they do past video rentals.

It would be interesting if we swapped iPods whenever we first met someone. We'd probably understand each other more quickly. It seems like a good idea for arranged marriages and parties where two unfamiliar social groups hang out.

I heard that such exchanges are actually quite popular in America. Maybe I'll try swapping iPods the next time I meet someone new.

But what would happen if I dropped mine somewhere? It would expose my world. No one would get hurt in the process, but it still makes me uncomfortable. I think we could look at Murashu as a demonstration of that circumstance. We might see future identity theft crimes arise because of misused iPods.

I have heard that some shops in Akibahara sell old cell phones. Why would someone buy an unusable cell phone? To read the former owner's undeleted text messages… that's kind of disturbing.

Come to think of it, web browser bookmarks would be awkward too. They don't convey a person's identification data, but a stack of one's tastes and interests amounts to the same thing.

Actually, the most embarrassing thing is showing other people your diary, like HIDEOBLOG, for example.

My good buddy Piston Uehara from Power Professional Baseball visited my booth in the evening, just as I updated HIDEOBLOG. He had come to Tokyo to assist the conference that will start tomorrow.

"You ready for a little of this?" He made a glass-tipping gesture with his wrist near his mouth.

I had planned to swim, but I changed my mind and went for a drink instead. Quite a lot of Friendly Fire had hit me during the day. I knew that alcohol wouldn't heal my wounds, but I accepted Piston's invitation anyway. He's a good friend who knows how much it sometimes helps to be bad.

We went to the Nishi Azabu bar Sankyu, where I had gone with Murashu two months before. We ordered some snacks, and I got one beer with three glasses of wine.

Our conversation really livened up toward the end, as we recounted stories from our work during MSX development.

November's last day... the month seemed really short. The year has only one month left.

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