THE SILVER CASE: What Is Uehara Kamui?

Transforming under the “transmittable crime” of the Format Kamui narrative, Furuya and Nakama attempt to become revolutionary terrorists in the Kamui/Ayame model. They vanish like the “imaginary girl” and eventually reappear online, now known only by their screennames Oldman and Neutral, dressed in the “clown” makeup. Oldman even wears a barcode on his forehead, as in the religious right’s panic about barcodes being the mark of the beast, alluding to apocalyptic fears of 2000. The two ramble about killing the past and position themselves as Kamui/Ayame: “Oldman’s words remind me of those of our revered and accomplished predecessors, and have the same destructive power.” On their website, Method Tank, Oldman and Neutral promise a revolution to “take back love” and create their own world on 9 September 1999.

Screenshot from "KamuiDrome." A central window shows Neutral/Nakama standing against an off-white gradient background. Her skin is gray, snd she wears black. Her hair is tucked into her collar, and she has a line as makeup descending from her right eye. She says, "Oldman's words remind me of those of our revered and accomplished predecessors, and have the same destructive power."

At the end of the countdown, the Method Tank releases a computer virus that causes a widespread blackout. Realistically, this is more impressive than killing people and surely kills many more people than Format Kamui. But the opening of “LifeCut” instantly undermines any impact of the Method Tank. By November, Tokio reports, “the Method Tank was already a thing of the past.” While the “the coming of the new age” Oldman promises does, metaphorically, come to pass at the dawn of 2000, he and Neutral’s ineffective lashing out has no part of this accomplishment. After Tokio dismisses them in the opening of “LifeCut” and says Fujiwara is acting to punish their “rebellion,” Oldman and Neutral are dismissed in the overall text, appearing in Akira’s flashbacks while en route to the Triangle Towers but otherwise never mentioned again for the rest of the series. If Tokio is correct that Fujiwara, really the syndicates, reawakens in response to the Method Tank incident, Oldman and Neutral may even spark the TRO/CCO and FSO to begin the purge in “LifeCut.”

Still from Videodrome. In a dimly lit apartment, Max Kenn kneels in front of a throbbing TV set that he caresses. On the screen is an extreme close-up of a woman's lips speaking to him.

The title “KamuiDrome” (which exists in-universe, appearing in news headlines) alludes to Videodrome, the 1983 film written and directed by David Cronenberg. This film suggests how the Method Tank plot in “KamuiDrome” should be read. Videodrome involves a television executive, Max Renn, who discovers a broadcast frequency called Videodrome depicting acts of depraved, sexualized violence and murder. Similar to Furuya and Nakama meeting over the murder-focused Kamui Net and then becoming sexual partners, Max meets radio star Nicki Brand via TV, and their shared adoration of Videodrome leads to a sexual relationship.

Like Nakama seduces Furuya into the “imaginary” world of Kinjo’s websites, transforming him into a terrorist, Nicki seduces Max into the world of Videodrome: “I want you, Max. You,” she says in the shape of a sexually throbbing TV. “Come to me now. Come to Nicki. Don’t keep me waiting” (37:41–38:30). Sexuality is linked to the new media flesh. The fixation on violence in Videodrome is just as much a fixation on sexuality. Watching people be tortured to death is arousing to Max and Nicki. Similarly, Nakategawa claims that the Method Tank reflects the same kind of compulsion as sexual desire, just another outlet for Oldman and Neutral’s sexuality: the “‘et cetera’ of a man and a woman.” This may lend a violating sense to Oldman’s promise to take “love” back to the world. Their terrorism is, in essence, an act of mutual masturbation.

Similar to the secret war over the Kamui narrative occurring between the syndicates, a secret war over Videodrome occurs between a media theorist with the “television name” (11:42) Brian O’Blivion and the Spectacular Optical Corporation’s Barry Convex. Compare their “television names” to the screen names of Oldman, Neutral, and other KamuiNet users, or even of Nakategawa and other HC Unit members. Convex may be using Videodrome, the broadcast frequency itself, to kill people he considers undesirable to society. The factions promise Max a vague “revolution” against the “old flesh,” i.e. life before analog media. However, this revolution turns out to be a lie. No liberatory cause, it is really a force of totalitarian control that O’Blivion’s and Convex’s factions wrangle over and utilize to eliminate rivals. They pull Max around, using Videodrome to brainwash him into an obedient automaton and assassin. Literally merged with his gun, he becomes a living weapon like Format Kamui. Max kills several executives and then, still obeying the TV’s commands, himself.