1100 years ago, a mask was created to bind Earth and the underworld together. The humans of earth and the demons of the underworld formed an agreement that the mask would be kept safe by the Sato family. Generations later, the humans and demons are at war, and a new child of the Sato family must end the war.
“Hey, Kakucho!” Victor said. His brother’s room has vinyl records scattered across the floor, almost hiding the Nujabes carpet underneath.
“Shhhh Victor, let me finish sampling,” Kakucho says as he works on one the discs.
As Victor waits, Kakucho finally finishes sampling and chopping. Kakucho then arches his back and stretches his hands before getting up from his arched stoop on the floor.
“Okay, what Vic?” Kakucho says.
Victor replays the record before he says anything.
“We need to make the drums louder, and we’re gonna be late for school,” Victor says.
“Whatever, we’ll fix it later.” Kakucho says, sounding more tired than usual.
Victor and Kakucho head downstairs, where their parents have left breakfast and school bags on the counter.
Kakucho stumbles upon a note from their dad, sitting on his and Victor’s lunch boxes. Victor rips his note apart. Kakucho reads it aloud.
“Didn’t have time to make sushi, so I made rice balls! Love you.”
Victor stuffs the lunchbox into his bag without reading the note.
“You could’ve at least read it,” Kakucho said, trying to bridge the gap between his brother and his dad.
Victor ignores Kakucho, packs the rest of his stuff, and slams the door on the way to Kamato High.
As Kakucho and Victor enter Kamata High, they’re blown out of the entrance by a flood of students rushing to class. Victor and Kakucho get jumbled into the crowd but begin screaming for their lives.
“Hey, Kakucho!,” Victor yells out, “What’s our first-period class?” Victor says, as the students who were here seconds earlier escape the hallways.
Kakucho responds, yelling as well. “We have history Vic!” Victor and Kakucho run up to each other to figure out where their history class is.
Victor and Kakucho storm up the stairs to the second floor and enter the history classroom. There are 23 students filling up the classroom seats, all with different heritages and places of birth. Kakucho moves up to the front desk, as Victor seats himself at the back window.
An old man wearing sunglasses walks into the classroom. Kakucho looks over at Victor, fully attentive to the old man’s entrance.
“Hello, students,” the man says. “My name is Mr. Bonten, I will be your history class teacher for this semester.”
The class stutters for a second before everyone rises to greet Mr. Bonten. He pays no attention to it.
“Before I begin, is anyone’s family name Sato?” Mr. Bonten asks the class. The students look around and only see the two hands of Victor and Kakucho raised.
“Has your family taught you about your history?” Mr. Bonten says. Staring directly towards the eyes of Kakucho.
Victor responds for Kakucho as they both stood up, “No, we hoped to have learned more in this class Mr. Bonten.”
Mr. Bonten’s only response is a sigh. Mr. Bonten and Victor both sit down as Mr. Bonten prepares a projector for his lesson.
Victor and Kakucho open up their notebooks. The class is filled with mumbles discussing Mr. Bonten, as well as Victor and Kakucho. Mr. Bonten slams his pen on his desk, echoing through the class. The class silences themselves, Victor and Kakucho feel a shiver down their spines. Mr. Bonten opens up the PowerPoint demonstration to begin his lesson. The class lights shut off as the lesson title shows “History Of The Sato Family And The Relation To Demons.”
“We will begin with the ancient metal mask of the Sato family. 1100 years ago, a mask was created to bind both Earth and the underworld together. The humans on earth and the demons had formed an agreement that the mask would be kept safe and sacred by the Sato family tree. One bearer of this mask chose to put it on and was given powers similar to that of a demon itself. This alerted the underworld and started a 1,000-year war between earth and the underworld. The demons stumbled upon this world during the forging of the mask for their king. They spent months analyzing the actions of the humans in the town, day and night, and saw how kind and safe this place was. Therefore, the mask was given a new purpose for this alliance, and later a war.”
The class is left with the sound of the A/C, as Mr. Bonten stares back at the students. Tension once again fills up the air, until it is interrupted by the bell. The class begins to mutter as Mr. Bonten watches them all leave. Victor and Kakucho begin to pack their notebooks, which they took no notes in.
The brothers go outside to eat their lunch below a tree. Victor begins to eat his rice balls vigorously. Kakucho takes a slower approach.
“Look, Vic,” Kakucho says. “I know our dad might not be the greatest, but he cares about us. He’s trying his best and all we can do is learn and try our best too, he deserves a break, Vic.”
Victor begins to play Nujabes on his phone to drown out the conversation Kakucho is pushing. Kakucho snatches his phone and turns it off.
“You need to cut dad some slack Vic. Both me and mom are tired but it’ll all be better eventually. Be patient Vic, he’s trying his best.”
“He should’ve been there for us, how long has it been since we’ve even seen his face, Kakucho, two months?” Victor says. “I’m sick of it, I’m so sick of it Kakucho. I’m going home.”
Kakucho reaches his hand out to try and stop Victor but all he grabs is air… Kakucho stays back to eat his rice balls, while he lets Victor go back home.
Victor begins to cry, as he mumbles along to “Battlecry” to keep his mind off everything Kakucho had said. He approaches his home and sees the figures of his mom and dad outside wearing vibrant kimonos. Victor gets to the doorstep to see his mom and dad staring down back at him.
“Victor, we need to talk.”
“What do you want Dad, I’m in a hurry,” Victor says. “Class starts in 14 minutes.”
“This is important, Victor. Come in and sit down.” Victor’s dad says.
Victor takes a seat, while his mom and dad sit across from him.
“We got a call from your school during your history class, you learned about the history of our family and the importance we have, right?” Victor’s dad said to Victor. Victor looks his father in his eyes, whilst his legs begin to jump in nervousness.
“Well, yeah, we learned about the demons too.”
Victor’s dad brings out a dusty metal box from underneath the leather black sofa. The box is rusty but very heavy.
“Your dad and I think you need to see something to really understand,” Victor’s mom says.
Victor opens the box and is greeted by the eye holes of a metal mask. The mask has no dust, no scars, and no scratches on it. The mask’s design is symmetrical, with precise edges for the nose and eyebrows, and with something similar to blades running down to the chin through the mask. Victor’s dad breaks out into a cold sweat gazing at it.
“This mask has been passed down for generations, and you Victor, are the newest bearer and protector of this mask. Do you choose to wear this mask or do you choose to protect it?” Victor’s dad looks at Victor, eager for a response from him.
Victor’s brain tells him to protect it, but his heart tells him to wear it. He hesitates but picks up the mask and puts it on.
Victor’s brain is rushed with images and memories of previous wearers, while his adrenaline and heart rate begins to increase exponentially. All of Tokyo begins to face a minor earthquake.
The earthquake settles down and so does Victor’s screaming. Kakucho rushes through the door after feeling the trembling of Tokyo from Kamata High. Huffing and puffing, he sees the mask on Victor’s face and begins to pass out before being picked up by his mother.
The Sato family sits in their living room, tarnished and full of rubble, the bright modern furniture had been destroyed from the earthquake. Kakucho begins to wake up.
“Kakucho, are you okay?” Victor’s mom says.
Kakucho ignores what she said and looks directly at Victor.
“What have you done Victor!” Kakucho yells. “You’ve ruined everything. You weren’t supposed to put it on, our city is in shambles because of you Victor!”
Victor’s hands begin to shake, he tries to mutter words but is interrupted by a loud crash into their wall.
“Just know that no matter what happens next, I love you with all my heart and soul.”
As Victor’s dad pulls in Victor’s mom, Victor, and Kakucho to hold them.
As Victor watches the dust settle around them, he notices silhouettes appear out of the shadows.
“Nothing will happen, Takashi. Everything will stay the same, mask on or mask off.” Victor’s mom says.
“Jackie,” Takashi says. “Please, take care of our children, they need you.” Takashi stands up and looks directly into the smoke to see scaly humanoid creatures with red eyes, and flowing white hair. One of these demons catches Victor’s eyes, this demon has short white hair and a different facial structure than the rest.
“If you want your precious father back, give us the mask of our king,” the demons say together in unison.
“This is my family heritage, I will protect this with my life!” Victor yells out to the demons. The demon he recognizes does not move a finger.
“So be it, then your precious father comes with us, Victor Sato.” The demons say. They collectively rush towards Takashi and fly away, except for one demon.
“If you ever wish to change your mind, the shrine at the top of the town is where you will find us.” The one demon says in a playful manner. The smoke disappears and Victor falls to his knees. Kakucho and Jackie gather around him.
“Mom, I’m so sorry, I didn’t know that this would happen,” Victor says, as tears roll down underneath the metal mask.
“I know Victor,” Jackie says. “But now you must decide, will you give them our heritage at the cost of your father, or truly protect this mask with your life, no matter the risk.” Jackie looks into the eyes behind the mask, Kakucho looks away with his fists clenched.
Victor hesitates before finally making his answer.
“I’ll get dad back, I’ll get him back with this mask,” Victor says.
Victor gets up from the rubble from the floor and heads to the door.
“We’re both coming with you Victor,” Jackie says.
Victor smiles and heads out the door, as Kakucho and Jackie follow him out.
The surroundings are full of flames and ruin from the devastating earthquake earlier. Victor walks with his hands clenched until he reaches the staircase at the top of the shrine.
“Kakucho, mom,” Victor says. “If I don’t come back down in five minutes, go back home.”
Kakucho looks at him with denial in his face and slaps him.
“Do you have no respect for dad Victor?” Kakucho says. “You will come back, alive.”
Victor looks at his brother with awe, but keeps a smile on his face.
“I’ll try my best, Kakucho,” Victor says.
Victor walks away from Kakucho and his mother, whilst his mother drops to her knees. Kakucho stays behind to comfort her.
As Victor walks up the stairs he feels an intense wind in front of him. Fear conquers his mind but Victor continues to walk forward, confident in the mask.
As Victor reaches the top of the stairs, he sees the shrine, surrounded by shed white scales, and the demons.
“Where is my father!” Victor demands. The demon with short hair comes out behind the other demons.
“First, I want the mask Victor,” the demon says. Her voice screeches and leaves the mask vibrating.
“I will give you the mask when I have my father back and I know that he’s safe,” Victor says.
“Whatever Metal Face, you can come out now,” the demon yells behind her.
Takashi comes out, chained and cuffed with black chains. Jackie peeks out behind Victor and screams.
“Fantastic, the whole Sato family is here. Give me the mask Victor, now!” The demon says.
As Victor hesitates, the demon begins to command her subordinates to attack Takashi, leaving him wounded. The screeches coming from each demon, including Takashi, leave Victor in an uncontrollable state of mind. As blood spills on the floor, Takashi regains his ability to speak.
“Don’t give her the mask…kill me instead,” Takashi mumbles under his voice.
“Dad,” Kakucho says to his father.
“Do it Kakucho!” Takashi yells to Kakucho.
“It’s now or never Victor,” the demon repeats. Victor’s hands begin to shake as his eyes begin glowing.
“This feeling,” the demon says. “I’ll see myself out, Sato boys, but I’ll leave you with a parting gift.” The demon says before directing a white beam from her fingers towards Takashi’s chest.
Victor stands up from the ground with smoke billowing from his body and his eyes glowing a bright white. Victor rushes at the blink of an eye to the well of the shrine, but was too late, as the demons had already left.
The metal face falls off of Victor’s face and onto the tip of the well’s surface. Victor regains consciousness as the well begins to crumble. Victor grabs the metal mask and rushes to his dad, before it falls into itself.
“I’m so sorry dad, I didn’t know this would happen,” Victor says to his deceased father, before crying.
Victor places his palm to the forehead of his father and begins a prayer. Kakucho stares at Victor while they hold Jackie tightly, and repeat the same prayer as Victor. Kakucho looks down in shame.
“Please keep our father protected,” Victor says.
Jackie and Kakucho repeat the same line before dropping to tears. Jackie scoots over to Takashi to hold him in her arms.
“I love you, Takashi,” Jackie responds. Takashi evaporates into smoke in her arms. Victor stands up and grabs Kakucho to let him up, Jackie picks herself off the ground.
The group begins to make their journey back to their destroyed home. The group remains silent on the walk home, Victor has his hands clenched and so does Kakucho.
“He loved you, Victor,” Jackie said.
“I know mom,” Victor says. “I just wish I could spend more time with him.”
“No more regrets Vic. Now we rebuild our lives,” Kakucho says.
“Got it.” Victor says.
The group walked further in the foggy and fiery atmosphere before returning to their home, covered in dust.
With nowhere to sit, the remaining family sits in the middle of the room. Victor goes to his room and checks under his bed to see a microphone from his dad with a note.
Victor reads the note once more before closing it and putting it on his desk.
“I’m proud of you. No matter what happens.”
After rolling into a ball, Victor begins to weep alone in his room.
Knowing that he’ll never see him again, Victor experienced loss for the first time, but together, the Sato family will rebuild their lives, one brick at a time, with, or without a metal face.