And without further ado:
*pnish* vol. 12: Western Mode
Ronnie: 20 year old grandson of the man who founded the village
Harry: Leader of the “Harry and Cress Show” traveling theatre troupe
Cress: Seems to be the unspoken fuku-leader to Harry, the other actor in the show
Wanizuka: The backstage and special effects man for the show
Avery: The young guitarist and musical accompaniment of the show
Albert: Corrupt mayor of Ronnie’s village who is oppressing the villagers
Coleman: Albert’s right-hand-man who sees that his dirty work is carried out
Jesse James: Historical train robber, murdered ten years prior by Robert Ford
Robert Ford: Huge Jesse James admirer and member of his gang, murdered Jesse ten years prior
Master: Runs the local bar
Todd: Ronnie’s childhood friend who seems to serve no purpose in the show besides to worry for Ronnie
The play opens on a darkened stage and a man dressed in black-- Jesse James (Kobayashi Takashika). He and his gang are about to pull off a train heist, but before things can get underway, a member of the gang Robert Ford, expresses his desire to be Jesse’s partner. However, during the heist, Robert’s tendency to get carried away comes to light, and Jesse rejects Robert, sending him away. Meanwhile, the victim of the robbery is brought out and points his gun at Jesse, but Jesse’s men point guns right back, leaving the group at a draw. Then, a gunshot rings out, and the robbery victim is dragged away by Jesse’s men, despite his protests that it wasn’t him, only for Robert to reappear, gun in hand, and confess that he had, indeed, killed Jesse James.
The scene then changes to the “current day” (sometime in the 1880s in western America), where spectators are gathering. A young boy, Avery (Hashimoto Taito), sits on a crate in the front corner with a guitar as a man dressed in traditional Japanese clothing, Wanizuka (Washio Noboru), hangs a sign reading “Jesse James Show” before informing Avery that the preparations are complete. Just then, a group of unfriendly looking men approach, threatening people and demanding money. But before they can do any harm, two men appear on the scene, one apparently the leader and the other toting not one but two pistols. The man with two guns, whom the other calls Cress (Ooyama Masashi), does not seem so enthusiastic about fighting off the baddies, however, and storms off halfway through. The leader has no trouble in defeating all of the villains, though, and when he’s down to the last man, introduces himself as “Jesse James” (Sano Daiki).
As “Jesse” makes his grande exit, Avery hurries to the crowd with a can in hand and collects money from the viewers, thanking them for coming to their show, and Wanizuka emerges from behind the scenes to see how much they’ve made. It’s not much, but Wanizuka takes his share and then heads out. After the two leave, one of the audience members steps out, looking around excitedly, a large bag in his arms. He announces to some unknown person named Todd that he’s found the people who will save their village before excitedly running off.
Meanwhile, “Jesse” and Cress are quarreling about Cress’s behaviour during the show. “Jesse” wants to show the world that robbery isn’t all that there is to Jesse James and that he’s actually a great guy who helps people, but Cress feels like they’re not getting anywhere towards becoming famous, nor are they making any money. Avery appears with the can with their earnings just in time to prove Cress’s point, and brings up the idea of breaking up as a group, to which Avery sadly points out that, if they do break up, he’ll have nowhere to go. Wanizuka joins the discussion too, attempting to convince Cress to have more enthusiasm, but the whole debate is abruptly cut off when the spectator from before, Ronnie (Moriyama Eiji), approaches them and hands them the sack.
The group are confused and elated when Wanizuka opens the sack to reveal wads and wads of money, and Ronnie explains that he’s come to hire them. Avery is worried that they’re jumping into this too fast, but the group quickly accepts the job and asks Ronnie what he’s looking for.
Ronnie responds that he wants them to get rid of Albert and his gang, a request that puzzles the group. They ask who Albert is, and Ronnie explains that he’s someone “in the same profession as they are.” They assume that this Albert is the head of a rival, bad theatre troupe and that Ronnie wants them to show them how it’s actually done, after having been impressed by their show, and so, the deal having been made, Ronnie introduces himself and announces that, of course, the leader’s name is Jesse James. “Jesse” laughs, however, and shakes his head-- no, no, no, his real name is Harry!
Meanwhile, back at the local bar in Ronnie’s village, the villagers are making disparaging comments about Ronnie-- they don’t think he’ll successfully be able to find someone to rid their town of the oppressive Albert and his henchmen (save for one random regular who never leaves the bar). The only one who believes in him is Todd (Itou Naoto), his seventeen-year old friend. Just when Todd was beginning to despair, however, Ronnie returns to a warm welcome of Todd throwing himself at him in tears. When he’s asked where the people he hired are, Ronnie says they’re on their way, and no sooner do Harry, Cress, Wanizuka, and Avery burst through the doors to perform an entertaining dance for the bar’s customers as a “special service”
The bar’s customers, Todd, and the Master of the bar, thinking that Harry and company are here to chase baddies out of their town, are more than confused by the dance, but Ronnie insists that, though they’re a little strange, they’re really strong. Harry and company enjoy drinks for a little while before a mysterious and threatening man strides through the door.
When the bar grows silent, Harry asks who he is, and Ronnie replies fearfully that he is Coleman (Tsuchiya Yuuichi), second in command to Albert. Assuming that he is another actor, Harry and Cress hurry to “introduce themselves,” heckling Coleman and telling him they’re “in the same business” and they’ll show him how it’s done until he finally agrees to take them back to his boss. Harry requests that Avery and Wanizuka stay behind, and the three head out, leaving the villagers in awe of Harry and Cress’s guts. They get the mistaken impression that Wanizuka is some sort of “don” (like in the mafia?) and hurry out to please him, until only Todd, the bar’s master, Ronnie, Avery, and a very drunken Wanizuka remain. At this point, Avery thanks Ronnie for hiring their show, and the truth comes out: they’re not killers, but performers. Todd and the bar’s master are horrified, but none more than Ronnie, who hurries off to try and keep Harry and Cress from being killed by Albert’s men.
At Albert’s home, Harry and Cress attempt to show off their skills by pointing their unloaded guns at Albert (Dan Jirou) and his men as a part of their act, but, of course, Albert and Coleman think that Harry and Cress are actually killers and take them seriously at first. However, when they behave ridiculously and show off their party tricks, Albert doesn’t know what to think, and orders to have them killed. Ronnie shows up, horrified that he’s gotten them into this, but somehow, Harry manages to convince them instead to have a shootout the following day at noon. Still completely unaware of what’s going on-- Harry and Cress think that they’re going to have an acting competition, since it would be stupid to “finish things” now, when they have no audience. After Harry and Cress leave, Albert mentions wishing to hire “that guy,” but Coleman says he cannot agree with Albert hiring the “most cowardly guy in the west.” Albert laughs in response and says that if Coleman feels so strongly about it, he supposed he’d better not
Back at the bar, Wanizuka is completely drunk and harassing the one man left in the bar, and Avery is left to apologize for him as he infinitely goes on about how, if he had been born 20 years prior, he would have been the one in charge of the Meiji restoration. The man asks Avery why he has such a positive outlook, and Avery responds that he owes everything to Harry and Cress, who saved him when he was thrown away by his own parents. But before long, Harry and Cress return, and the villagers, who missed finding out the truth of Harry’s career, congratulate Ronnie, but once they leave, Ronnie slips into despair. What is he going to do?! There’s no way a bunch of actors could win against Albert. But then he gets a brilliant plan-- he convinces Cress and Harry to use his grandfather’s guns... which he’ll secretly load with real bullets! That way, Cress and Harry will definitely have a shot at winning!
The next day, the two parties meet at the assigned spot, and it’s five against two. Albert is a little confused about Avery playing guitar as musical accompaniment to the fight, but lets it go, and the fight begins. Harry and Cress don’t much like Ronnie’s heavier guns, and quickly switch back to their own (unloaded) ones. Somehow, despite all their antics, they manage not to die (and Cress shows off some impressive tap dancing, as well as interesting lasso work), and just when Coleman is distracted, Harry comes up from behind him and puts his pistol to Coleman’s head. Coleman bids him to shoot, and when Harry does, he begins to collapse to the ground, only to realize... he’s not in pain? Unable to comprehend why he’s not bleeding and dying, when Harry tells him to lie down because he’s been shot, he does so, and with Coleman down, Cress holds off the henchmen... until his knee starts to hurt.
At this point, Ronnie forces Avery, Cress, and Harry to run, and when they regroup, he finally tells them the truth-- they were just involved in a real gunfight. Avery is the first to catch on, but the other two quickly follow, and Cress immediately collapses to the ground in agony, because he’s actually been SHOT! They don’t have much time to decide what they’re going to do, however, because Albert and his men track them down again. Just when it looks like they have no escape, Harry cries out for Wanizuka, and Wanizuka sets off his “grand finale” with fireworks and all. This provides enough distraction for Harry, Ronnie, Cress, and Avery to get away, but leaves Wanizuka to be captured by Albert. After Wanizuka is taken away, a mysterious man in black appears, and shoots down one of Albert’s henchmen. When Coleman becomes angry, he points his gun at Coleman, too, and reveals himself to be “the most cowardly guy in the west,” Robert Ford (Itou Kentarou)! It turns out Albert hired him anyway, but he overslept and missed the shootout. Coleman is not happy about this revelation.
Back at the bar, the villagers are angry at Harry’s failure, to which Cress haughtily argues that it’s not their fault-- they’re actors, not fighters. The villagers then realize that Ronnie completely messed up, and turn their anger to him, informing him that he has twenty four hours to leave the village for good. Avery tries to get Cress to give back the money that Ronnie said he had collected from the villagers, but Cress refuses, because it wasn’t his fault, and he got shot! But, Todd explains, it wasn’t the villagers’ money, but Ronnie’s own money that he got by selling his precious cattle, because Ronnie loved the village so much that he wanted to save it, and now he’s being kicked out. Ronnie, however, cannot turn his back on the village his grandfather cared so much about, and decides that he’s going to go take down Albert instead.
At this, Todd has a fit, because Ronnie’s crazy! There’s no way he can take down Albert! Albert has hired Robert Ford, and Ronnie will certainly die! At the mention of Robert Ford, Harry suddenly reacts, but Todd ignores him to be told by Ronnie that it’s Ronnie’s own problem and has nothing to do with Todd. Furious and worried about his friend, Todd angrily tells Ronnie to do whatever he wants before running out of the bar in tears.
Ronnie doesn’t have much time to think on this, however, because then Harry volunteers to go with him. Cress thinks Harry is crazy, but Harry says the problem is actually his own and doesn’t have anything to do with Ronnie, because Harry wants to get revenge on Robert Ford. When Ronnie is confused, Avery explains that Robert Ford was a member of Jesse Jame’s gang who betrayed and killed Jesse James ten years ago. Ronnie wonders if Harry knew Jesse, and Harry responds that they met once: Jesse came to the home Harry lived in as a child with his mother, asking for a place to stay the night. At the time, the two had been 1400 dollars in debt, and they needed to pay it back the next morning, but they still allowed the stranger to stay. To repay them, Jesse left them 1400 dollars, saving them. Because of this random good deed, Harry has always wanted to show the world that Jesse James isn’t all bad, and has always wanted revenge on his killer, so he will go with Ronnie to Albert’s.
Cress, however, thinks Harry is crazy, and, clearly upset, he tells Avery it’s time to go. Avery, however, wants to stay too; he owes his life to Harry and so he wants to fight for Harry. Harry tries to tell him to go with Cress, but Avery won’t be convinced, and so, devastated that he may be losing both his best friend and younger brother figure, Cress angrily proclaims for them to do as they like and heads for the door. Harry calls out to him before he leaves, thanking him for all the times they’ve had together, and Cress tells him not to say that like they’re never going to see one another again, and he, Avery, and Wanizuka will all perform together with Harry again. Harry watches him go, but Avery suddenly remembers: they’ve left Wanizuka behind!! They resolve to hurry and infiltrate Albert’s so that they can save Wanizuka and the village.
After they leave, the master turns to the man at the bar and comments that giving 1400 dollars to strangers was pretty nice of him. The man at the bar replies that it just meant he took it from someone else, so it doesn’t really reflect well on him.
Meanwhile, Harry’s group’s plan is to have Harry call himself Jesse James and infiltrate while Avery and Ronnie rig together a bunch of guns and say that the villagers have all come to Albert’s house to take him down. When Harry goes in, however, the first person he comes across is Wanizuka... dressed in green leather chaps and a tiny green vest with no shirt beneath. When he asks Wanizuka what he’s doing, Wanizuka replies that Harry left him behind so he joined the other side! He then calls in Albert and the rest of his minions.
When things are looking bad for Harry, though, Ronnie shows up, ordering the villagers to fire! Gunshots frighten Albert into believing their trick until Coleman shows up saying that he’s found a rat and producing Avery, who had previously been the one firing the guns. He threatens to have one of his men shoot Avery if Ronnie doesn’t prove that there are villagers here, but when Ronnie can no longer make the “villagers” fire, Albert realizes he’s been tricked. Desperate to save Avery, Harry manages to shoot the gun out of the the lackey’s hand and the three flee together, with Albert’s men on their heels.
Meanwhile, at the bar, the mysterious man asks the master for “the thing he gave him a long time ago” back. The master hands the man a gun and a holster.
In the mean time, somehow, during their escape attempt, Harry and Ronnie have gotten separated from Avery. Before they can go to find him, however, a band of Albert’s men appear with a gatling gun. They’re not sure how it works, but Wanizuka appears to show them. He turns the thing around... and fires it on Albert’s men! The one barely surviving man accuses Wanizuka of being a traitor, and Wanizuka apologizes profusely, but once the man is gone, he calls them all idiots and runs back over to Harry and Ronnie, telling them he’s on their side again. Harry looks none to pleased with him, though, and he and Ronnie agree to split up, Ronnie going after Albert and Avery going after Robert Ford.
Meanwhile, Avery, helpless on his own, is setting a trap by painting glue on a crate when suddenly one of Albert’s minions appears and asks him if he’s friends with Harry. Avery admits that he is, and, terrified, throws his paintbrush at the man to distract him while fleeing. The man pursues him, firing a few shots, and Avery stumbles and falls, crying for Harry to come save him. The minion is stopped short of doing him any harm by a lasso around his middle, however-- it’s not Harry, but Cress. Cress gives Albert’s men the 10,000 dollars Ronnie had paid them in exchange for leaving them be, which they accept;. Avery feels bad that he’s forced Cress to give up his precious money, but Cress says it’s fine and sits on the box that Avery had been gluing, much to Avery’s dismay.
Back at Albert’s house, Ronnie has managed to get in, but has been discovered by Coleman. Coleman asks Ronnie what he plans to do, and Ronnie says nothing-- he’s just going to ask them to leave, rather than resorting to force. Coleman laughs and says that reminds him of Ronnie’s grandfather-- apparently, he had still been around when Albert was first planning on taking over the town. He and Coleman had tried to pick a fight with him, but he had refused to get riled up, which Coleman thought was admirable. Ronnie says that he wants peace for the town, to which Coleman responds that now it’s pretty peaceful-- certainly, the villagers might be oppressed but there’s little crime, etc. He asks Ronnie what his idea of peace is, which Ronnie cannot answer, he just knows this isn’t it. Coleman then takes aim to shoot Ronnie... only to purposefully miss. Because “Jesse” spared his life, he explains, he’s repaying his debt by sparing Ronnie’s. Amazed, Ronnie thanks Coleman before running off to seek out Albert.
Outside, Harry is looking for Robert Ford, but when he finally crosses paths with him, he doesn’t realize who it is. Robert asks him his name, and Harry replies that he’s Jesse James, to which Robert laughs and asks for a handshake. While Harry is shaking his hand, he adds, “That’s funny... because I thought I had killed Jesse James!” While Harry’s guard is down he grabs Harry’s gun out of its holster and aims it at him. Terrified for his life, Harry asks why Robert killed Jesse, and Robert responds that it was out of fear, that deep down, all violent bullies are really just frightened. The appearance of two more of Albert’s henchmen stops Robert and interrupts their conversation, however. To Harry’s surprise, Robert kills the henchmen, then hands Harry his gun back, explaining that they’ll have a duel. With no other choice, Harry accepts, and, after a few moments both men fire a shot-- but Robert falls. Unable to believe he’s won, Harry collapses to the ground in surprise and relief, not noticing that another man is standing behind him, and it was actually his shot that his Robert. Robert asks Harry if he’s going to finish him off, and Harry answers no; in the end, Robert was also an admirer of Jesse James, and so Harry can’t kill him. With that, he runs off to find the others, leaving Robert alone with the real shooter: Jesse James! Jesse says that it’s been a long time, and he and Robert go off together.
Back in Albert’s place, Ronnie finally crosses paths with Albert, who also immediately points a gun at him. Ronnie asks him nicely to leave, but, of course, Albert replies that he will not. Ronnie says it doesn’t matter, because now that Albert’s been made a fool of by Ronnie, no one will respect him anymore, and even if he kills Ronnie here, at least Ronnie will go down with his pride intact whereas Albert will be viewed as stupid by the villager. Albert knocks Ronnie to the ground, but Ronnie only laughs hysterically, waiting to die... until who should appear but Todd, brandishing a large tree branch and saying he’s come to save Ronnie. Albert says he’s not a threat, but it turns out he’s not alone; various villagers with farming implements, and even the master of the bar shows up, all to defend Ronnie. Ronnie is surprised, but the villagers say Todd told them about how Ronnie sold his cattle for them, and, moved, they came to help him. Harry and his group, too, come to Ronnie’s aide, and so they’re at a standstill-- Albert has a gun but he’s vastly outnumbered.
At this point, Coleman shows up and says the gig is up-- they’re never be able to regain real control at this point and they should just leave while they’re ahead. He points out that running this small town, Albert had grown complacent, and Coleman knew he was destined for greater things. He suggests that they go south and invest in the coal industry, to which Albert grudgingly agrees and heads to make preparations. Before following, Coleman inspects Harry’s group, skeptically asking Cress why he has a crate stuck to him and why Wanizuka is just wearing a vest with no shirt. Wanizuka suggests that it will become fashionable in the 21st century (a reference to Treasure Box, perhaps), to which everyone replies that no, it really won’t. Ronnie then thanks Coleman for helping them and invites him to come back to the village whenever he likes before Coleman heads out to help Albert.
Back at the bar, Ronnie and Harry are exchanging parting greetings before Harry’s group gets on their way. Cress somehow has mysteriously recovered their money, and Harry tries to give it back to Ronnie, but Ronnie tells them to keep it. Harry congratulates Ronnie on becoming the new mayor of the town, and they’re just about to part ways when Todd runs into the bar in a fit. Apparently, he’s incredibly upset because... the train is late. It seems Jesse James and Robert Ford have teamed up and are back to robbing trains. This leaves Coleman and Albert out of luck, and, unable to return to the village, Coleman gets Albert a horse to ride off on, leaving Coleman to drag all of their luggage.
Back in the bar, everything seems swell, but before they go, Ronnie asks Harry and the group to show everyone their Jesse James show. The group agree, and this time, everyone appreciates their act.