Chapter 1 - Friend - The story begins with a flashback to 1973. One of the children in Public Middle school #4 takes control of the school's speaker system and blasts out T. Rex's 20th Century Boy. However the students just continue their day as normal. Flashforward to the 21st Century, where the UN are honouring an unknown group of men who are responsible for saving the human race. The scene quickly changes to a teenage girl, lying uneasily in her bed as tremors are occurring outside. As she studies her surroundings a large, obscued mechanical monster approaches. The story now shifts to 1997, Kenji is looking after his convenience store while tending to his niece Kanna, left in his care before his sister vanished. As Kenji travels to pick up a delivery from a missing customer, he notices a strange symbol on the garden fence, a clenched hand, index finger extended and an eye in the middle.
Kenji sees the strange symbol from his childhood
The story once again shifts in time, to 1969. Kenji and his group of friends have constructed their own secret base in a field. After escaping detection from "The most evilest twins in history, Yanbo and Mabo" the boys construct a symbol of friendship, the same one Kenji saw on the fence, anyone who knows this symbol is a "True Friend"
Back to 1997, and a strange cult begins its meeting. The leader, known only as Friend,
demonstrates his powers by floating above the ground.
Chapter 2 - Karaoke - The police begin investigating a deadly virus that drains all of the blood from a victims body after numerous bodies are found. Kenji and his friends Maruo and Yoshitsune attend the wedding of an old childhood acquaintance nicknamed Keroyon, due to his frog-like apperance. Back at the convenience store Kenji's mother and her friend are surprised at Kanna's perfect intuition. While the friends attempt to remember what the strange symbol means, Kenji remembers a childhood game they used to play together. After being shot by pellets by Keroyon in the game, Kenji had to repeat the phrase "I am dead" ten times before he was able to revive himself and continue the game.
The mysterious Friend, "healing" his follower.
The scene switches back to the mysterious Friend and his cult. Friend makes his follower repeat the same phrase "I am dead" ten times, at the end his follower claims he can now see the light.
The police force begin to piece together the links between the mysterious deaths. Both a professor and his student died from the same blood loss virus.
Chapter 3 - The boy who bought a guitar - Back in 1969 Kenji, Yoshitsune and Maruo are discussing various ways in which the world could end, Kenji however is adamant that he'd fight and stop it. Back in the hideout their other friend Otcho tells them about a rock concert held in America. Hearing the Rolling Stones play on the radio inspires Kenji, he eventually manages to save up and buy his own guitar, and
In highschool, Kenji spends more time playing his guitar than attending lessons.
continues playing into his high school years, spending more time with his music and not attending classes causes his grades to fail. After a while, he gives up the idea of playing for a full audience at the Budokan. Meanwhile, Friend warns his followers of the impending apocolypse, but promises that those who follow him will be saved.
Chapter 4 - Snot Towel - Maruo runs into the convenience store to tell Kenji that their old friend nicknamed Donkey had died. Apparently jumping from the top floor of the highschool where he was employed. Donkey was born into a very poor family. He and his many brothers and sisters lived in a rundown old shanty with their mother.
Donkey uses his snotty towel to save the boys
Donkey wanted to be friends with Kenji and his group, however they teased him for the snot covered towel he always carried around his neck. The boys attempted to bike away as fast as they could, however Donkey ran after on foot, the chase eventually led to the town's gravel pits. A dangerous area the children were forbidden to go to. Maruo and Kenji fell into the lake and were unable to get out. Donkey was able to free them using a rope attached to his towel ,ever since that day the boys became close friends, even going so far as to give up their bicycles and run on foot with Donkey.
Back in 1997, as Kenji is preparing to leave for Donkey's wake, he receives a letter from the man himself, asking if Kenji remembered the Friends symbol.
Chapter 5 - Night of the Science Room - The group attend Donkey's wake where they run in
Donkey's wife and child grieve at his wake
to another old friend, Mon-chan, who has just returned from work overseas. Kenji continues to doubt that Donkey would have committed suicide, seeing it unlikely that he was the kind of man to leave his wife and young child behind. After a toast to Donkey the friends reminisce about their school days and one incident in particular. In 6th grade, a
boy in their class named Katsumata died just before the class were set to dissect some carp. He loved science so much the boys believed he had come back as a ghost and haunted the science room every night. It was Mon-chan's turn to turn on the aquarium but he had forgotten, and so gathered the boys together to do it at night. Donkey, being a firm believer in science denied the existence of a ghost and set off to turn the aquarium on. However minutes later he screamed and jumped from the second floor of the school building and ran off into the distance. To this day, the friends still never found out what Donkey had seen, but Kenji would find out the shocking truth soon enough.
Chapter 6 - Flag on the moon - A strange man named "Ma-kun" prances around his room eccentricly, ignoring the cries of a person outside. After he finished his "healing aerobics" he puts on his "healing CD", while numerous posters of Friend's mysterious symbol litter the walls. Later that day, Friend addresses his followers, after being asked where they came from Friend makes reference to the secret hideaway, built within the grass, where they held hands and made a pact to defeat evil. Friend begins a strange monologue, likening himself to Collins, the man who accompanied Armstrong and Aldrin to the moon, but never stepped foot on it himself, he then starts to cry.
Yoshitsune and Maru stayed up late to watch the Moon landing
The scene switches to the 20th of July, 1969. Donkey appears at Kenji's house late at night, asking if he can watch his TV, since his family are too poor to afford one for themselves. In the morning, Kenji, Yoshitsune and Maruo all discuss how pointless it was staying up past 5am to watch the landing, as nothing happened. However Donkey excitedly runs through, interrupting their conversation shouting the now famous quote "This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". Donkey hurriedly shouts about how he wants to reach the moon one day too. A mysterious unknown boy approaches the group and claims he feels sorry for Collins, the one who had to stay behind on the ship. Back in the present time, Kenji visits Donkey's wife and presents the letter sent to him. She explains that a former student of Donkey's, "Masao-kun", had got caught up in a cult to do with the mysterious Friend. Both Kenji and Donkey's wife agree that his death could not have been an accident. Seeing Donkey's telescope still pointing up at the full moon even to this day, Kenji wonders if the original flag from 1969 that Donkey loved so much is still up there on the moon.
Chapter 7 - Softball - Trying to track down Donkey's student Masao, Kenji arrives on a baseball field. A group wearing shirts with the Friend symbol claim that Masao made them and sold them off cheaply. Before he can leave to further investigate,
Friend decides who he will "purify"
Kenji is pulled into the game after one of the members twists their ankle. Trying to emulate Donkey, he speeds around the pitch but is called out at the last second. Realising he'll never be that fast, Kenji continues to investigate. Kenji finds out that the man's full name is "Tamura Masao". While he frantically runs around, Friend picks names off of a list, claiming they must receive a full body blood drainage purification.
Chapter 8 - Dig a hole - Masao begins to pack his bag, various Friend tshirts, healing CDs and posters are chucked in, before an extra pair of brifefs. Before leaving he opens his top drawer, revealing a giant butcher's knife with a frightening expression on his face. Outside, Kenji has finally caught up with Masao, however he actively ignores all of his questions about Donkey, until he eventually snaps and begins spouting insane nonsense. Telling Kenji if he wants to know he needs to take a bath, brush his teeth, open his heart and finally, become a Friend. Kenji shows his the strange symbol, asking what it all means, to which Masao replies "If you've reached that symbol there's only one more step, one more step to Friend." before reciting the famous line "This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind". The scene switches to a bar where Kenji is meeting with his friends. Although he is more concerned with finding out about the mysterious symbol, everyone else is already drunk, wanting to give Mon-chan a farewell party before he's shipped back off to Dusseldorf the next day. However, the group then remembers that when their secret hideout was demolished to make room for a bowling alley they gathereup all of their possessions and buried it underneath a tree. As the friends walk through the old neighbourhood they reminisce about their childhood, and realise how much everything has changed. Their secret base replaced by a bowling alley, the old bathhouse was now a fitness club, and the adult video store changed into a suit shop. While they begin to dig for the box they buried, the scene switches to Pierre Ichimonji, the leader of a popular religious sect, being stabbed by Masao as he maniacally screams that this is purification. The chapter ends as the friends reach the old box they buried, and discover the mysterious symbol printed on the top.
The group discover their box full of childhood memories, and the mysterious symbol of Friend that is printed on it.
Chapter 9 - A message - The chapter begins in a flashback, Kenji and his friends are gathering up possessions to bury as they are kicked out of their secret base. The boys fill up a container with items and messages for themselves for when they've become adults. Donkey rushes over late, holding a bundled up cloth in his hands. Back in 1997 the group finally opens the box. It contains various items such as rubber toy snakes and frogs, dirty magazines, instant chicken ramen, a drawing of a "lazzer gan" created by Kenji much to his embarrassment, and finally the cloth that Donkey put in, with the mysterious symbol painted onto it.
The symbol of their friendship.
The scene switches back to Friend and his cult. Friend is pleased over the murder of the religious leader, he claims this is only the beginning and that many more people preaching false religion will be "purified". As his followers mindlessly chant his name, h states that the time for destruction and rebirth has come. The group remembers what they told one another as they placed their box of memories into the ground. "The next time we dig this up is when the Earth is in great danger and then we'll save the planet from the enemy."
Chapter 10 - Yukiji - Two women are sitting together eating in a restaraunt. The older woman with short hair is complaining about Friend and his cult. Parents hve been complaining about sons and daughters going missing and are attempting to take legal action. The younger woman with long hair sits despondently, as she has a much bigger problem of her own. he woman starts drunkenly complaining about the lack of good men, her job as a customs official, constantly being mistaken for a narc, and her canine companion who refuses to do what she tells him to. As the two get up to leave, the younger woman notices the symbol which Friend's cult uses. The woman seems tor recognise the symbol, but runs off to the bathroom after drinking too much alcohol.
A drunken Yukiji complains about her situation.
Meanwhile, Friend's cult has just completed construction of a giant robot. Morning arrives, as Kenji and the group see Mon-chan off at the airport. Kenji attempts to convince his friends that there is something important happening, and that their childhood symbol connects it all, but no one else seems to be interested. Kenji is adamant that one of their old childhood friends is behind it, the group try and remember the names of their old acquaintances. Konchi, Otcho, Yukiji, just as the final name is called out a large dog runs up and bites Kenji. The handler fervently apologises, while Kenji is shocked its their old childhood friend Yukiji, the young woman present earlier at the restaraunt.