TSUKINO USAGI returned to her home from school with no more than her usual worries. The first thing she did was, of course, call out to her mother to ask if there was any mail. It had been a week since her last letter from Mamo-chan, her boyfriend. But to her surprise, her father answered from upstairs. "No, there isn't any mail for you today.
"Otousan, what are you doing home? Are you sick today?" Usagi's father had been an independent photographer, but a changing photography market and failed investments had forced him to become a sarariman who usually worked long hours; it was now very unusual to have him home on a weekday afternoon.
"No, Usako. Come up here, please. We have something to talk about."
What is it? Mamo-chan? Her father liked Mamoru well enough as a person, but he still thought Usagi was too young to be dating a steady boyfriend—not even okasan had told him they were really engaged. Trouble at school? Usagi wasn't a very good student, but her grades had improved to average in most things.
She found her father in her parents' room. He was packing a suitcase. "Otousan, are you going somewhere?"
"Yes, Usako. I'm going to America. I have to replace someone in our American branch."
"When will you be back?"
"I won't be back."
"Tousan—" Usagi remembered hearing from Ami how suddenly her father had left, and unconsciously shifted to the childish tousan from the more correct otousan.
"We're going to live there. I'll send for you as soon as I find a place for us to live."
"Oh . . . This is so sudden."
"That's what your mother said. But when you work for a company, you have to go where they want you." He sounded very sad, very old . . . The suitcase was almost full. He looked at the framed pictures on the dresser, picking up first one and another, trying to decide which he would take. He selected one that showed Usagi with her mother and her brother Shingo, and Chibi-Usa—and Mamo-chan. "I'm sorry you'll be away from your cousin and your friends. But you'll be able to see your boyfriend sometimes. I understand this Stanford is not very far from San Francisco." He shook his head and put the picture in the suitcase. "But you are not going to be seeing him all the time. There are some good schools there. You will be going to one. So, work harder on your Eigo, Usako, you will need it."
Her mother had come back with Shingo, who was holding his jaw. Usagi remembered that Shingo was supposed to be going to the dentist. Together, they all went to the airport.
Usagi was both happy and unhappy. She would be getting to see Mamo-chan often—Umino and Ami knew a lot about Stanford, which was in the "Silicon Valley." They were both computer geniuses, and they told her it was close enough to San Francisco to go there and come back the same day by bus or train. But Usagi would be leaving everyone else behind. And, of course, Usagi was Sailor Moon. Who would protect Juuban and the rest of Tokyo from all the monsters and evil wizards who kept showing up?
Haruka, Sailor Uranus, dismissed that fear. "Don't worry. There haven't been any attacks for awhile. And if we have more trouble, we can find someone else who can cry and run away just as well as you do." But when Usagi and her family finally got on the plane and took a last look back, she was surprised that the tough, mannish older girl was crying worse than any of the other senshi who had come to see her off.
Usagi had thought they would be living in San Francisco, one of the few places in America she knew anything about, but the house that her father got for them was in a tiny town she had never heard of, far up the hills on the other side of San Francisco Bay. It was a very nice house with a big yard, nicer than their home in the Juubangai, but not nearly as nice as most of the others—there were a lot of mansions in this place, called Kensington, or kin-sin-tan, in Usagi's halting Eigo.
Usagi became lonely most of the time. There were only a few Japanese at the private school her father put her in, and they had all been in America for a long time and spoke English without thinking. None of them seemed to like her much, and it was difficult to get to know anyone else. Mamo-chan visited most Sundays, but they were never alone together for very long, thanks to her parents. He was studying very hard and doing well, which made Usagi feel stupid and unworthy of him. She couldn't call her old friends very much; letters were never enough, and she still hadn't gotten the hang of using e-mail.
The only attention she seemed to get at school was unwelcome. Some boys kept making passes at her, even though she kept showing everyone her ring and saying "Engaged." Some of them began calling her "old Inagajudo," making fun of her English and her loyalty to Mamoru at the same time. She was tempted to transform and blast them just a little, but Usagi had grown up enough to realize that, while Tsukino Usagi could still do foolish things, Sailor Moon shouldn't.
Usagi really tried to do better at school, mostly because of Mamoru, but all that sitting up at night studying seemed to do was make her go to sleep in class more. Finally, she got a note to take home: her grades were so poor, they didn't want her to stay.
Being Tsukino Usagi—or Usagi Tsukino, as Americans seemed to insist—she was never that far from a foolish decision. She made a very foolish one: Instead of going home to face her parents, she decided to go to Mamoru's place. It was difficult getting there; several hours of trains and buses. Tired from several nights up late, Usagi fell asleep on a train . . .
Someone was talking to Usagi, very loudly. A man. A policeman. She asked him where she was and what time it was. The man looked puzzled, and turned to another policeman and a man in a suit. He said something in Eigo that Usagi couldn't understand. Usagi remembered that she had spoken in Japanese, so she asked the same questions again, in the best Eigo she could manage. But she lapsed back into Japanese when she realized she was not on the train. "How did I get here?"
The man in the suit answered, in Japanese. "You are in the Stanford Medical Center. The police brought you here. You don't remember what happened to you?"
"I was on the train, and I fell asleep."
"Do you remember anything else?"
"No. I—where is my ring? And—" Her brooch." <The ginzuishou!>
"Ginzuishou? What is that?"
"Ne-e-eh . . . a brooch. Heart-shaped. I've had it for a long time."
"You didn't have any jewelry when you were found. We think someone robbed you; perhaps they took it. Was it valuable?"
"It was to me."
"And the ring? Was it expensive?"
"It was my engagement ring . . . not a very fancy one; my Mamo-chan isn't a wealthy man."
"He is my boyfriend . . . my fiance. His name is Chiba Mamoru . . . Mamoru Chiba, you would say here."
"I'm sorry . . . do you remember your name?"
"My name? It is Tsukino Usagi."
"Tsukino Usagi is your real name?"
"Yes. Why would you ask a question like that?"
"Why are you speaking Japanese?"
"I am sorry, my Eigo—my English—is not very good."
"Where are you from?"
"I am from Tokyo."
"You grew up in Japan?"
"Yes . . . Oh, no, my parents!"
"They must be worried about me. Otousan won't let me see Mamo-chan after this . . . " She began to cry.
" He is studying here at Stanford. I came on the train to see him. Otousan will blame him—"
"You did not see him here?"
"No. No, I've never been here. Mamo-chan always comes to visit my family. But today I . . . I did badly in school again and I didn't want to have okasan and otousan angry at me."
"Where is your family?"
"They live in Kensington now—north of here?"
"I know where it is . . . They don't know, yet. We didn't know who your family was. You don't have any identification. I'm afraid whoever robbed you must have taken it . . . so, you are from Japan? What . . . " The man in the suit asked a lot more questions.
"So, have you figured it out?"
"No," said Dr. Wanatabe. "She learned Japanese somewhere, maybe even grew up in Japan—she uses too many idioms not to have spoken it for a long time."
"What, a blue-eyed blond from Japan?!! Give me a break!"
"It's still a possibility. A remote one, but there are a few gaijin who've lived in Japan for a long time . . . Not likely, though. I think this is some sort of reaction to the robbery."
"If she was robbed."
The doctor shrugged. "I'll get her into observation."
"Better than the juvenile authority. And the girl most likely has some real problems. It's justified."
Usagi woke up. Someone was speaking loudly, and she wasn't awake enough to understand it—it was part Eigo, part something else she didn't know. She tried to get up to get a look—and she found out she was strapped down to a gurney!
"Where are you taking me?" Usagi asked. But no one answered her. She was wheeled into an elevator. There were two men with her; they were both large and had big hands. They wore white uniforms, but Usagi didn't think they were doctors. They were speaking Eigo and something else to each other, mostly something else. The sound of it was different from Eigo, faster and a little melodic. But there were Eigo words. Usagi asked again, in Eigo, "Excuse me, where are you taking me?" It actually sounded something like "Ekascoosu mi, waru aru yoo taken mi?" One of them glanced at her for a moment, but then he went on talking to the other one.
They took her to a place with locked doors. Usagi did not have to know any Eigo to know she was being put in a place with crazy people.
Dr. Wanatabe had a busy schedule. He didn't have time to visit the strange girl the police had found near the University Caltrain station for several days. The police had only called him in because he could speak some Japanese. Not perfectly; Dr. Watanabe's family had lived in the United States for several generations, and he had learned Japanese in school, and later on in his own time, to understand his heritage more. But there were certain things about Japanese culture he could do without, and two of them were the cartoons and comics. He had three daughters, and they were always spending their money and their time on manga and anime. He found all of them watching anime videos when they should be doing homework one evening when he came home, and he scolded them. But as he picked up the remote to turn off the VCR, he looked at the screen—and saw that the character looked like a cartoon version of the strange girl. He hit "pause" instead, and asked, "Who is that?"
"Her? That's Sailor Moon," said Molly.
"She's really famous," said Joanne.
"I want to be just like her," said Stephanie, his youngest. She held up a manga she was reading, and showed it to him.
"Can I borrow this?"
Usagi had been very frightened at first, to know she was with crazy people, but there didn't seem to be danger. But the people running the place thought she was crazy, too. None of them spoke Japanese. She caught some of them making fun of her Eigo, and she stopped talking much at all.
Mostly she worried about her parents and Mamoru. Why hadn't anyone come for her? Maybe Mamoru was so disappointed with her he wouldn't see her, but surely not her mother and father?
After what seemed like forever but was only four days, Dr. Watanabe finally came to see her again. Usagi was so happy to have someone to talk to, she talked very fast—and then she got a puzzled look. He said, "I cannot understand much of what you are saying. My Japanese is not very good."
"I'm an American. I've never lived in Japan, only visited."
"Oh . . . Your Japanese is much better than my English."
"Thank you. I've brought a little something for you to read." He pulled a manga from his briefcase. It had Sailor Moon on the cover. Usagi thought, does he know I'm Sailor Moon? He spoke again as he handed it to her. "Sailor Moon is my daughter's favorite character. I notice that you look a lot like her. Blue eyes, blond hair—you even wear your hair the same way."
"Many girls in Japan do things like this with their hair. They are not locked up with crazy people for it!"
"No. But you do understand that Sailor Moon is just a cartoon, don't you?"
If the gaijin wanted to believe that, let him. At least he didn't think she was Sailor Moon. "Yes, I understand."
"If you understand that, why do you call yourself Usagi Tsukino?"
"Tsukino Usagi. Because that is my name."
"Tsukino Usagi. Yes. That is the name of Sailor Moon from the cartoon—in Japan. They call her Serena in the English version."
"No, you are wrong. In the manga and anime, her name is Hara Reiko." What was going on?
"Can you show me?"
Usagi riffled through the manga—it was the first collection edition, very dog-eared. But when she got to the first Sailor Moon story, she couldn't believe it. Instead of Hara Reiko, Sailor Moon was actually called Tsukino Usagi. She read further. Her mother, her father, Shingo—in the manga and anime, they had given her two little sisters—but, no, it was just as it really was. Sailor Mercury—Ami instead of Maru—and they used Rei's real name . . . how could they have done such a thing?
Dr. Watanabe sat back, with a gentle smile on his face. "You aren't really Sailor Moon, and you aren't really Usagi or Serena. Now, I know you think you are, but that's not true. There are times we'd all like to be someone else. You've gone further than most. But you should remember who you really are soon. Pretending is nice, but being yourself is better, most of the time."
"I don't know . . . haven't you found my parents? My boyfriend? I told—"
"There isn't any such company as Juuban Corporation. There are no families named Tsukino living in Kensington, and no one at all living at the address you gave—it does not exist. The phone number you gave us hasn't been active for several months, and it belonged to someone named Mitchell before. There is no one named Mamoru Chiba registered at Stanford University."
The doctor held up his hand. "I've checked with the Japanese consulate. No one with the names you have given us has been issued a Japanese passport. There are quite a number of Tsukinos living in Tokyo, but none of them fit the names and particulars you gave about your family. Now, we've sent them your fingerprints—and I've had them sent to the FBI—so if you really are from Japan, or from here, there's a good chance we'll be able to find out who you really are. But I'd like you to tell me. Now, how old are you . . ."
After three weeks, Dr. Watanabe and some policemen took her to a court. They spent most of their time waiting. The judge finally asked to see her. Dr. Watanabe interpreted for the judge—it was funny, she had a Japanese name, Yamamoto, but she didn't speak any Japanese—although she did speak that other language Usagi had heard a lot by now, Spanish.
The Judge seemed like a nice lady, but she didn't believe Usagi's story, and by now Usagi didn't expect anyone to believe. The whole world had changed—or maybe she was really crazy.
They had gotten her books and magazines about Japan, and she saw that there just weren't any Japanese in them with blond hair or red hair or even many with brown hair, except people who wore wigs or died their hair. No one had blue or green hair, anywhere, unless it was fake.
Still, whether or not they believed her, they had to call her something. The judge asked her what she wanted to be called. Dr. Watanabe suggested, "Sue" because he had started calling her that. It was better than "Soggy," which she now knew was an Eigo word meaning "wet." So, she was sent to a foster home as "Sue Kino."
However, James Michener never learned to speak Nihongo either, despite being married to a Japanese for more than half his life, and he still managed to write "Sayonara." So baka gringo-san will soldier on despite his appalling ignorance.
"Kenji," the name Takeuchi Naoko gave Sailor Moon's father,is also the name of her own father. Her mother is Ikuko,and her brother, Shingo.