Imagine you’re a down-to-earth, law-abiding otaku out on a leisurely Sunday stroll between your usual haunts in Akihabara. Suddenly, a girl bumps into you and quickly demands an apology. While you’re trying to bend over double to show your regret, her brother swoops in out of nowhere and asks for further proof of your sincerity. The choice: cut off your finger or pay a million yen.
A calmer head might scoff at the suggestion, berate the brother for making such a ridiculous demand and walk away after offering no more than a standard apology – but things have happened so quickly that reason goes straight down the drain. So you actually give it some thought. Option 1 is no option at all: you’ll need all of your appendages intact for tonight’s MMORPG session. That leaves the cash payout. But wait: didn’t you just blow your life savings on that new Ultra Megassa Perfect Platinum-Iridium Gangaru Bleed Limited Edition DVD Collection?
“Tell you what,” says the brother. “Just hand over 50,000 yen and we’ll call it even. But watch your step next time. If this happens again, I’ll drag you off to court. Understand?”
You nod your head and hand over five big ones. They depart, and you breathe a sigh of relief at having avoided a brush with the law.
Fanfic material, perhaps – but something like this actually happened. A twin brother and sister have recently been convicted of extorting cash from passersby in Akihabara using this bump-and-scold method. Interestingly, two people actually paid up, forking over a total of Y110,000 to the pair last August. District Court judge Hayashi Masahiko sentenced the twins to over a year each in prison, saying that their double act “was a deliberate crime in which the two assumed they could take money easily from otaku (geeks) in Akihabara”.
Now then, let’s give it a few months; the manga version of this sad but true tale should be out by then. Twins as partners-in-crime, otaku as the helpless victims, Akihabara as the scene of the dastardly deed: what mangaka wouldn’t want to pick this story up?
Source: “Twins convicted of extorting cash from geeks on streets of Akihabara“. Mainichi Daily News, 24 October 2007.