Baroquism Syndrome Volume 1


  • Prologue   "To You"
  • "Baroque Murder"
  • "A Baroque Shop"
  • "Sense Sphere"
  • Translator’s Notes

Baroquism Syndrome

Scenario/Editor: Kazunari Yonemitsu
Author: Mariko Shimizu

Volume 1: Sense Sphere

Prologue    "To You"

    A silent night.
    This room is quiet now, save for the faint air conditioner and the tapping of my fingers against the keyboard. I don’t hear the Malkuth Prayer, nor the usual ‘BUWOOHN, BUWOOHN’ of the Special Hunter Grotesque Kill Team’s siren.
    I wonder why it’s so quiet tonight.
    An ominous night.
    It’s as if everything is holding its breath out of fear.
    Fear of this distorted world, of this world gone mad, of the suspicions that we may have personally become enthralled by a Baroque.
    Perhaps I am only emailing you to escape that fear, or if I can’t escape, simply to avert my eyes from it.
    But what I want to talk about right now is not my own personal story. I want to hear from you. About when the world began to distort. About where the world is heading.
    And about if salvation could ever come to this distorted world…

    Here’s a file on the girl.
    Yumi Anzai, 15 years old. You might not recognize the name but you may know her as the girl who played the leading role in the “Afterschool Rooftop Murder” a few years ago. What follows is the testimony of a student who witnessed the incident back then.
    “I was in the classroom doing detention when I looked out the window and saw some kind of rustling dark bundle falling past. At first I thought somebody was pulling a prank, dropping a doll or something off the roof. But right after there was this huge ‘fwoomph’, and I was all the way up on the second floor with the windows closed but I still hear this huge sound like something tearing open. Right then we knew somebody fell and everybody ran outside all at once.”
    The broken body lay on the concrete courtyard at the base of the school.
    “I only caught glimpses through gaps in the crowd, but he was lying face down and looked smaller than a normal person. I think like half his body was probably gone, splattered all over. All the girls are crying, there are smells coming from a bunch of guys that puked right as they saw the body, it’s all a huge mess.”
    One could tell the deceased student was male from his uniform, but it was difficult to see who it was because of the blood covering his face. No one was getting close enough to find out, as you’d expect, but then Yumi appeared and pushed her way through the circle of people.
    Yumi spoke to the corpse. A few of the students knew this to be what the girl called her childhood friend, one year her senior, even when they were at school.
    Yumi knelt on the spot, the blood staining the gray skirt of her uniform black. Without caring, she fumbled around what had once been the boy’s face. “Oh my God!” one of the onlooking girls screamed.
    “Found them… thank goodness, they’re unharmed.”
    Yumi clutched a bright red glob in either hand. Red and ochre strands trailed between her grasping fingers, leading back to the corpse’s face. The students were shocked into silence as they realized that these were nerve fibers and what Yumi held in her hands were the corpse’s eyeballs.
    Yumi tore the strands entangling the eyeballs free, casting them to the ground. She then used her fingers to gently wipe away the blood and stared at them, enraptured, as she spoke.
    “I’m taking these with me, they’re just so beautiful.”
    It was quickly confirmed that Yumi had been the one to push the boy from the roof and she was arrested by the police.
    You’re very familiar with the media uproar that followed.
    “A tumultuous affair? The 15 year old murder!” “Lawyer claims insanity from academic stress - the education system under scrutiny!”
    Her homelife was quite ordinary, with a standard three member household consisting of father, mother, and Yumi. The girl appeared to be just as unremarkable. She earned average grades at the public school she attended; her only notable hobby was occasionally going to the concerts of her favorite musicians. She had no particularly close friends, but that doesn’t seem unusual for teenagers these days. Her relationship with the murdered boy didn’t appear to be the love affair portrayed in the headlines, but instead something insignificant along the lines of “the boy next door”.
    I’ve also heard that the boy wasn’t very close with Yumi. So why did she kill him?
    What was the point of gouging out his eyes?
    Yumi answered candidly when questioned about her motives, but that information proved too much for the police. They immediately had a psychiatrist brought in to ask Yumi further questions. I will share the details of that meeting with you, but I’ll wait until later to explain how I obtained documents that should have been confidential. It is true that I have tried to be as succinct as possible, but my story has only just begun. Yumi’s case is merely the beginning of the Baroque tale I must tell you, only a few bars from the prelude.
    But for now, let us return to Yumi’s story.
    This is what she had to say when the interrogator asked why she had pushed the boy off the roof.
    “Yeah, it was bad that I pushed him off. My first thought was ‘oh no!’ It would’ve been pointless if Ta-chan’s eyes got ruined in the process.”
    “So you did it because you wanted his eyeballs?
    “I was, like, planning on getting eyes from mommy or daddy at first. I mean, anyone’s eyes would’ve been fine, but people who are still alive probably don’t wanna give away their eyes. But I thought my parents might help me if I asked since I’m their kid.”
    On the day of the incident, Yumi was on the rooftop considering how best to beg her parents for their eyeballs. Then the boy showed up.
    Perhaps he started following Yumi once he saw her heading up to the roof alone.
    They stood together, leaning against the fence. Yumi jumped straight to asking the boy for his opinion. According to Yumi, he was terribly shocked by this.
    “He just started preaching at me like he was ten years older than I was.”

Volume 1: Sense Sphere

"Baroque Murder"

    “Are you shitting me?”
    “Stop speaking to me like that.”
    “If you’re for real, then you’re screwed up.”
    “Why? People’s eyes are beautiful.”
    “Knock it off. You’re just saying weird shit like that because you want people to think you’re unique. It doesn’t suit you.”
    The boy’s words were not spoken out of malice. Perhaps he had developed feelings toward this completely ordinary girl.
     However, Yumi couldn’t understand why her earnest feelings were eliciting such hostility.
    “Stop speaking to me like that.”
    “Looking at real eyeballs is so disgusting it makes me want to hurl.”
    “Oh, really? You’ll never know if you don’t try it.”
    “Then why don’t you try gouging your own eyes out?”
    “I’d like to, but mine are no good. My eyes are just the nerve endings of a Senseball.”
    “I thought I told you to knock that shit off. You’re…”
    Perhaps the boy was about to say that she was cute enough just the way she was, but who knows.
    Yumi shoved the boy when he swore at her for the third time. The defenseless boy was left slumped forward, halfway over the fence. Without a moment’s delay, Yumi pushed him in the back with a strength that surprised even her. The boy was sent hurtling downward.
    “The reason you pushed him over was because he swore at you?”
    Personally, the psychiatrist thought everything would be simpler if that had been the case. It wasn’t uncommon. A word that is harmless to some can hold enough significance to drive others to murder.
    No, if we pursue the topic of eyeballs - specifically the thing Yumi referred to as a “Senseball” - then the issue becomes much more complicated.
    Yumi quickly denied it.
    “Ta-chan said something I didn’t like three times, right? So if I did one thing Ta-chan wouldn’t like, then we’d be even, right? Considering that I wanted a person’s eyes, then why not Ta-chan’s? So I decided to accept Ta-chan’s eyes as compensation.”
    Giving up, the evaluator asked another question.
    “Why do you want people’s eyes so badly?”
    “I thought I told you. Because they’re beautiful.”
    “What do you find so beautiful about people’s eyes?”
    “Because eyeballs (and Yumi distinctly used the term “eyeballs” here) are an advanced form of Senseball.”
    It seemed that these “Senseballs” were the key to solving Yumi’s case after all.
    “How is an eyeball different from a Senseball?”
    “It’s like... eyeballs just stare straight ahead. They only take in the things you look at, you know? They feel like they’re obedient and pure. But Senseballs aren’t, they’re always monitoring us like they’re up to something. It’s nasty, isn’t it?”
    “The Senseballs are?”
    “That’s right!”
    Yumi raised her voice for the first time.
    “But those things, they’re like…”
    Yumi put her hands up to her throat and made a gesture as if to suppress something trying to come out of her mouth.
    “It… it gets inside my…”
    “Calm down.”
    Based on past experience, the evaluator was able to approximate the nature of Yumi’s condition once the concept of ‘monitoring’ was brought up, but decided on further questioning.
    “So, where is this thing you call a Senseball?”
    Yumi gave a lonely sort of smile.
    “You can’t see them, can you, Doctor?”
    “I’m afraid not.”
    “Senseballs are all over the world. For now, they’re only visible to those who can see them. If you touch one, then you can see the truth behind the world. But you know Doctor, nothing good will come from seeing that.”
    Afterwards, the evaluator reported the following results on Yumi.
    “Yumi Anzai believes that the entire world is being monitored by Senseballs, and that she gained awareness of their existence after becoming fused with one such Senseball. These appear to be typical symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.”
    Concerning the murder, her confession was unambiguous and consistent with many parts of the eyewitness testimonies. She was found to be fully accountable.
    The 15 year-old Yumi Anzai was prosecuted.
    But in the end, a trial was never held and the case was closed.

    Victim deceased. Death occurred the morning of the 72nd day following the incident. Cause of death unknown. A strange sphere was discovered inside the body during autopsy.
    The sphere had adhered to the lining of Yumi’s stomach, the tissue of which had a clearly abnormal cellular structure not found in humans.
    I’m not really sure where, but it’s said that the sphere is currently being kept behind closed doors at a state-of-the-art think tank facility. Concerning the sphere, I have no way of knowing if it’s the same as those “Sense Spheres”, and if so, why one was found inside Yumi’s body.
    What do you think?
    Did Yumi Anzai really fuse with a Sense Sphere? And did she see the truth behind the world?
    Ah, it’s not as if I’m a member of the Malkuth Order, but if I’m taking all that ‘truth behind the world’ stuff seriously then perhaps I too am going a little Baroque after all.
    As far as I know, Yumi’s case was the first of the Baroque Murders. In those days however (although I say that, it was only a few years ago) the term ‘Baroque’ was not yet in common usage.
    After all, it seems that this unpleasant and unsettling incident was the catalyst which caused its popularity to erupt and ‘Baroque’ quickly became an important buzzword all around the globe.

    The Boys and Girls Irregular Suicide Case.
    I want you to read this suicide note.
    “After this, I will die. Death is the only escape. It’s all for Ms. Rumi Kaihara. Throughout this year, I have been bullied by Ms. Rumi. She has stalked me, torn out my hair, burned my possessions and thrown them into the river. She abducted my pet dog, Post. Then she would call me every day and repeat ‘For I possess all that you possess’ like it was some kind of incantation.”
    The writer of this note was a 17 year old boy, the same age as Rumi. After mailing this letter to all the major media outlets, he committed suicide by throwing himself off an overpass.
    However, all of the acts the suicide note attributed to Rumi were, in fact, things the boy had been doing to her. At the time of the boy’s death, Rumi had been suffering from a severe eating disorder for some time. It’s said that this was caused by the boy force-feeding her mysterious meat, which perhaps could have had something to do with the disappearance of her beloved dog, Post.
    Then there was the girl that killed herself after leaving behind three notebooks of confessions, detailing how she had grown weary of her secret affair with a famous musician. The musician didn’t recognize her name or face, but began to briefly question his own memories as he was forced to read her incredibly realistic confessions.
    As far as I’m aware, this year 73 boys and girls committed suicide in this fashion. No matter how it was examined, no connection could be found between the suicide victims except that they always died together on the same day. Be it every few days or a certain day of the week, there was no pattern to predict when it would be. But every time, 5-10 people would die on the same day, as if it had been pre-arranged.
    The only thing they shared in common was the act of leaving behind an intensely distorted delusion before their deaths. The contents of these delusions varied a great deal - while one claimed to be a superhero waging war against evil, another would claim to be a child of sin that was born from a union between their sister and father.
    When asked if this was a new type of mental illness, a certain psychiatrist had this to say: “It is not. The delusions of the mentally ill consist of simpler, more repetitive nonsense. Although the delusions of these suicide victims seem ridiculous, there’s an eerie rationality and overwhelming persuasiveness to them. It’s all very baroque.”
    The physician’s reference to baroque was probably nothing more than a soundbite for the media. Perhaps he was offering a headline for the article, drawing a comparison between the modern-day suicide story and ‘baroque’ - a magnificent and excessive style that existed in days long past.
    However, ‘Baroque’ exploded amongst the population as if the word had been carefully chosen for that very purpose. To say “That guy’s Baroque” was to say ‘that guy’ had become a prisoner of his irrepressible delusions, while all of the crimes with unintelligible motives (of which there were many) got classified as “Baroque cases”. The expressionless children who tended to withdraw into their own imaginary worlds were now referred to as ‘Baroque Faces’.
    And finally, or perhaps I should say “naturally”, people appeared who made Baroques their business. I, Kitsune Kanazawa, am one such person.

Volume 1: Sense Sphere

"Baroque Shop"

    “Is this the office of the Baroque Shop?”
    The boy who came calling that day already had that Baroque look in his eyes. The gaze of those pale irises drifted through the air. Eyes that watched ghosts.
    “Yes, that’s correct.”
    Whether they’re younger than me or Baroque, I always strive to be courteous to my clients.
    “I heard that if I came here, you’d return the Baroque I left in your care.
    “That’s right. However, we have custody over many people’s Baroques in this establishment, so it would be most helpful if you could provide me with a description of yours.”
    As I said this, I had already booted up a program and begun to create a file on him. Age 15 or 16. Thin, feminine face. Voice is a bit high. Quivering fingers that are slender for a man’s. Despite appearances, he’s the type to prefer violent power fantasies.
    “Uhmm… My name’s Fumi Miyasaka. You write Fumi using the kanji for ‘a sentence of text’. My hobby is arson. So maybe my Baroque is burning.”
    “Is the whole world burning?”
    “That’s it. My flames burn the world to ashes.”
    As I thought. This boy called Fumi was going to rule the world with fire.
    In that case, why not take the easy route and go with a Baroque of destruction.
    “... a flame that burns the world to ash, is that correct?”
    As usual, I proceed to run my fingers over the keyboard as I begin pouring my heart into the final message of the boy standing before me.

    A Baroque shop. In exchange for a fee, I create stories about the delusional desires of those who have gone mad or wish to die. There are times when I create suicide notes. Even if they call it assisted suicide or see me as a black magician who drives people to death and madness, I enjoy this business and take a particular pride in my work.
    “I think this might be the one. In order to revenge himself on a world that tried to call him neurotic, Fumi Miyasaka will burn the world along with himself.”
    That seemed like quite a fine start. Revenge was a favorite word amongst the Baroque.
    “That’s not it. I think it’s the other way round.”
    And yet, Fumi had rejected my proposal.
    “I’m trying to save the world by burning it. It’ll be terrible if things stay the way they are, won’t it?”
    “... terrible, you say… yes, just as I suspected…”
    Of course, I had no idea what was so terrible.
    “There’s no other way, right? Nevermind, hurry up and give me my Baroque. If it’s not coming up under ‘flames’ then try searching for ‘tarantella melody’.
    “Please wait a moment…”
    I was bewildered. Ordinarily, people with such defined delusions do not come to my Baroque Shop. Those who do come are all vague insecurity and no imagination. They’re perfectly happy to die or go mad as long as you give them a story that makes them feel special.
    “Don’t you know what I’m talking about?”
    Fumi looked straight at me. Those were not the same Baroque eyes from earlier.
    “Try Sense Sphere. Angel… Grotesque. Hey, you really don’t know, do you?!”
    I shook my head reluctantly.
    Fumi hung his head and mumbled ‘oh’ while pulling a disc from his pocket.
    “Then try listening to this.”
    “What’s this?”
    “Listen to it and you’ll see the world differently.”
    Then Fumi blinked twice. His pupils once again drifted through the air as he returned to being a Baroque boy.
    “My Baroque wasn’t here either. Hey, that Baroque belongs only to me, so the world will be okay as long as I burn it, right?”
    Without waiting for my reply, Fumi left the office. All that remained was the disk.
    If you were in my situation, would you have listened to the disc here?
    You shouldn’t pay heed to tales that the Baroque spin, it’s just common sense. If you’re not careful, you run the risk of becoming captivated by their Baroques as well.
    But for some strange reason, I just couldn’t get the boy’s words out of my head.
    Sense Sphere. Angel… Grotesque.
    I wondered if I should listen to it. If I listened to it, would I really come to see the world differently than I do now?

    I knocked on the large, black door and a familiar, dismissive voice replied.
    “Who is it.”
    “It’s me, Kitsune.”
    A moment later, the door opened with a heavy sound and the bug-eyed face of Suzume Suzuki emerged.
    The room was dark like a subterranean theater. Black soundproofing on the walls, black equipment piled up to the ceiling, black cords that snaked along the floor, the black of Suzume’s clothing. Suzume always wore black without fail. It was as if he owned 40 identical outfits.
    “I thought about calling, but I figured you probably wouldn’t answer anyway.”
    I sat on the half-crushed bed below the window. There was nowhere else to sit.
    “You were correct.”
    Suzume took two cans from the fridge and threw one to me.
    “So, what do you want today?”
    “It’s about this disc.”
    I took out the disc that had been left by the mysterious boy, Fumi Miyasaka, who had come by my office.
    “I couldn’t get it to make any sound the normal way, but I thought you’d have a way to listen to it, right?”
    “Your CD player broke, did it?”
    “I don’t think so.”
    I told Suzume the details of how I came across the disc.
    “... so this Fumi brat told you that the world looks different when you listen to that disc?”
    “But that brat’s a Baroque, right? You believe him?”
    “I know, I know. But it’s strangely captivating… Sense Sphere… Angel… Grotesque…”
    Suzume accepted the disc from me and toyed with it for a time in silence.
    “Well, I can listen to it if you’d like… besides, it’s probably only simple encryption… however…”
    Suzume grinned wickedly.
    “Before I do, you want to see something? It’s just some data I got my hands on recently.”
    Suzume sat down in front of the second largest monitor in the room and called up the data. I peered at the screen from behind him. The saved data was simply entitled ‘BAROQUE’.

Volume 1: Sense Sphere

"Sense Sphere"

    Suzume and I met over the internet.
    We came to know each other since our usernames - Fox and Sparrow - had a similar vibe. Once we realized how close our dwellings were, we’ve been meeting offline like this.
    Suzume works in digital music production. He’s an expert not only in audio but computers as a whole, and 'befitting of a man such as himself' (Suzume's words, not mine), his hobbies include bugging cell phones and phreaking.
    “Well, when it comes to yours truly, most data is so easy to hack that it becomes difficult to even care.”
    Is being conceited and crude also befitting of a man such as yourself?
    No, I couldn’t care less about analyzing Suzume at the moment.
    “But, I was surprised when I got my hands on this.”
    “... What is it…?”
    [Perception/Sense Sphere Investigation Report]
    “These might be secrets from a government research institute. I saw that and thought, you know, guess the big shots are finally going Baroque.”
    My eyes scanned the text.
    … It is an established fact that many of the people who have come into contact with this sphere became captivated by hallucinations and delusions. This has resulted in madness, and in extreme cases, suicide. One theory suggests that the sphere is a newly discovered organism which acts as a vector for an unknown virus, but there is no evidence to support this…
    “In other words, it’s saying the Sense Sphere is deliberately driving people Baroque and making them kill themselves or go insane?”
    “Don’t go asking me. Here, there’s more.”
    …We have yet to find a method to prevent the damage caused by the Sense Sphere using existing technology. It has been proposed, however, that it may be possible to remotely detect their presence…
    And then there was an image file. A photograph of a delicate man who the file introduced as the one who had proposed the Sense Sphere detection program “Perception”. Looking closer, I saw that he bore a slight resemblance to the boy who had left behind the disc, Fumi Miyasaka. But behind the man’s shoulders, what I saw were…
    “Probably fake. But nobody would be stupid enough to use a photo from a costume party on official documents, right?”
    I recalled the words Fumi had said.
    Sense Sphere. Angel. Grotesque.
    Something in the shape of a human that carried wings on its back - an angel.
    “Pull up the data on that “Perception” thing.”
    “Sorry, but I don’t have it. I got caught in their security system just as I was about to hack into that data. I panicked and reverted back to an earlier capture, so this is all I was left with.”
    “Well, no need to go pouting like that. Now we know that Baroque brat wasn’t just messing with you, which is a plus.”
    “Even so, I wonder how Fumi obtained secrets of this magnitude.”
    “Who knows. Maybe if we listen to this disc, we might learn something.”
    Suzume placed the disc in the drive.
    “...Do you believe it? Or do you still think the kid’s Baroque?”
    “Probably just Baroque.”
    Suzume placed his headphones against one ear and began to analyze the disc.
    “But I wouldn’t give a damn even if you believed it was real.”
    “I guess not…”
    To Suzume, the information on the Sense Sphere was just something else to go in his collection of hacked data. He couldn’t care less if it was factual or delusional. But even then…
    “You don’t seem like you’re even going to leak this anywhere, are you?”
    “Obviously not.”
    Suzume’s eyebrows suddenly knit together, as if something from the headphones was bothering him.
    “... To begin with, I don’t like the fact that the security system only kicked in when I breached the Perception data. No, that means anyone with a decent level of skill could have accessed that information. Maybe the government is intentionally leaking info on the Sense Sphere…”
    “Could it be a covert attempt to send out a warning?”
    “If it is, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna put myself in the headlines over something like that. It’s much more fun just to listen in on calls… huh!?”
    Suzume pulled his headphones onto both ears and began swiftly tapping away at the keyboard. He stared intently into the monitor as he continued rambling on.
    “It’d suck if I got lumped in with all those creepy hackers. And I’ve got one last goldmine I hacked my way into… it’s a… really awesome… secret… uh…”
    The dance of Suzume’s fingers ceased.
    “What’s the matter? Were you able to analyze it?”
    Suzume pressed the headphones to his head with both hands as he slid and fell unmoving from his chair.
    No movement. Suzume was unconscious.
    I pulled out the headphone jack.
    In the next instant - and only for an instant - the sound of deep breathing seemed to swallow the room and my field of vision appeared to swim and distort. And then there were the spheres. Dark red spheres of various sizes were densely packed all around us. Spheres that repeatedly expanded and contracted like hearts, as if they were trying to draw me inside…
    “Stop it!!”
    The spheres vanished. The room returned to normal, but Suzume did not regain consciousness.
    I lifted Suzume into a sitting position. It was then that I saw a photograph of some strange object on the monitor.

    Nine hours later in the hospital, Suzume opened his eyes.
    But he couldn’t remember his fall.
    “I was in my room, just having successfully analyzed the disk you brought me, and then my memory just goes blank.”
    “So you didn’t hear anything?”
    “No, I do remember that. It was a very simple piece of music. Just a line of ordinary notes, but there definitely seemed to be a melody to it… music to cure dancing sickness… a tarantella melody…”
    “What did you just say?”
    Suzume eyed me suspiciously.
    “Just now, something about a tarantella melody.”
    “... that’s right. I wonder why I thought of something like that.”
    Fumi had also said ‘tarantella melody’. Is that what was on that disc?
    “But for a bit I thought I heard a sound. My body melted and expanded together with that sound… Just for a moment, I was everywhere.”
    That was bad. Feelings of being everywhere at once were often an early sign of going Baroque. Probably.
    “Did you see the spheres? Dark red, moved disturbingly like organs?” Those things I had caught a glimpse of.
    Suzume was absent-mindedly gazing at his palms, slowly extending and contracting his fingers. I remembered my father making the same gesture just before his death.
    “I’m pathetic…” Suzume abruptly whimpered.
    “I was everywhere, but I now only exist in this one place.”
    I just couldn’t believe this was coming from a cynical realist like Suzume.
    “Where’s that disc? I want to hear it again.”
    I shook my head.
    In fact, I had also tried to replay the disc afterward, but by that point it no longer had any data on it.
    “You’re lying. There’s no way that disc had the capability to erase itself during playback.
    “It’s the truth."
    “No way.”
    Suzume covered his ears and lapsed into silence.
    He was discharged later that day after his test results showed no abnormalities.
    I took Suzume home. As we were parting ways, Suzume said “I’m going to recreate it.” I’d like to think that it was just my imagination that made Suzume’s eyes appear Baroque as he said that.
    I don’t know what happened to Suzume after that. There was also no way to know if the tarantella melody he listened to was a hallucination or something with its own agenda.
    It would be a long time before I saw Suzume again.

Translator’s Notes
  • In the original Japanese, Ta-chan doesn’t swear at Yumi. Instead, he uses the overly-familiar pronoun ‘おまえ’ (omae) when addressing her, which is fairly rude in this context. When Yumi asks him to ‘stop speaking like that’, she’s actually asking him to stop referring to her using ‘omae’. He ignores both requests and continues speaking in a brash manner, and so she pushes him the third time he uses it.

  • Yumi refers to the Sense Sphere using katakana (カンカクキュウ), as opposed to the think tank which writes the term in kanji (感覚球). The word reads the same either way, but the katakana gives Yumi’s use of the word a slightly stilted or strange quality. I took this opportunity to translate カンカクキュウ into “Senseball” whenever Yumi refers to them this way. This preserves the distinction in the way the term is written and also highlights the similarity in how Sense Sphere (感覚球) and eyeball are written (眼球). This interplay between the terms in the original Japanese serves to illustrate how both objects are the primary sensory organs of a larger life-form. "Senseball" also sounds childish and fits well with Yumi's strangely immature way of speaking.

  • Kitsune’s and Suzume’s names translate directly to “Fox” or "someone who is sly" and “Sparrow” or "someone who is knowledgeable" respectively. I’ve kept their original pronunciations as no direct indication is given that these names are pseudonyms (other than perhaps the characters using them for screen names - the only instance in which I fully translated them). In most cases, these names are the real life names or stage names of actors in the author's theater troupe and so have been preserved in their original pronunciations. Their family names are also clearly Japanese, so something like “Kitsune Kanazawa'' sounds much more consistent than “Fox Kanazawa”.

  • In the 13th century, people came to believe that poisonous spider bites could be cured by playing a type of music which came to be known as ‘tarantellas’ (or ‘tarantella melodies’ in the case of this story). The music would allegedly drive the listener into an uncontrollable dancing mania. The frenzied, flailing physical activities of those affected was thought to (at least temporarily) cure the venom of the spider bite. The dancing mania the patients engaged in bears similarities to the dancing sickness of the 11th century, in which large crowds of people would fall to a kind of mass psychosis in which they would all lose control of themselves and begin convulsing.