And no, Seiji didn’t rent his companion for his anime movie date.

As we’ve mentioned before, Seiji, one of our Japanese-language reporters, is a pretty lonely guy. Sure, there was that afternoon he spent with his (rented) “little sister,” but aside from that, Seiji’s life has been lacking in female companionship recently.

▼ Seiji

About a year ago, we tried to help Seiji find a girlfriend by asking any interested and eligible ladies to contact us here at RocketNews24, which brings us to an unusual incident that took place last November. We’d asked for applications to be submitted through email, but one day when we got to the office, we saw that someone had simply dropped hers into our physical mailbox directly, completely bypassing the postal system.

We handed the envelope to Seiji, and he opened it up to reveal…

…a lengthy handwritten letter. Between the stark black ink and meticulous vertical folding, it didn’t look so much like a love letter, but a hatasejo, an old-school letter of challenge by which one swordsman challenges another to a duel.

What’s more, within the folds was a lock of the woman’s hair, and she concluded her letter with “I stake my life on this.”

This put Seiji in a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, a girl was asking him out! On the other hand, he was worried that she might be a little off-kilter, or perhaps only wanted to meet him to test out her new one-stroke-one-kill sword-fighting techniques. And so he decided not to immediately reply to Kiriko, as we’ll call her to protect her identity.

That might have been the end of it, but not so long ago some of our Japanese-language staff was having a meet-and-greet with our readers. Seiji showed up late to the party, but when he did, one of the guests said that he’d been talking with a woman in attendance who said she really wanted to meet Seiji.

He walked Seiji over to a woman with long black hair and made the introduction, and sure enough, it was Kiriko!

“It’s nice to meet you!” she warmly greeted Seiji, who once again found himself confused. Talking with Kiriko she didn’t seem like a crazy person. She seemed like a perfectly normal, friendly girl, with a cute, ever-so-slightly nasal voice. “Thanks for your letter,” Seiji said, still not entirely sure she wasn’t about to whip out her trusty katana, probably with a cool-sounding name like Konkotetsu, and cut him down on the spot.

But Kiriko produced no weapons, bladed or otherwise. Maybe the reason for her hatasejo-style letter was simply that she’s so old-fashioned she doesn’t know any other way to correspond in writing? That would actually be sort of cool, Seiji thought, like a time-travelling samurai girl transported to the modern era.

“Well, I’ve got to be heading home,” Kiriko said, but even as she walked out of the building, Seiji felt like he didn’t want her to walk out of his life. With the enchanting light of her eyes in his mind, and the ball in his court, Seiji decided to take decisive action and ask Kiriko out on a date. Using the contact information she’d included in her letter, he emailed her and asked if she’d like to see a movie together, and she quickly replied “OK.”

▼ We knew you could do it, Seiji!

This would only be Seiji’s second time ever to go see a movie with a girl, and he found himself filled with nervous energy at the thought of it. Wanting to avoid a downer movie, he decided to go to the other end of the spectrum and pick an unabashed romance, settling on director Makoto Shinkai’s runaway animated hit Your Name (this would also allow Seiji to accomplish his long-held dream of going to see an anime movie with a girl).

On the big day, Seiji wrapped up his shift at 7, and all of us still in the office gave him a hearty “Go get her, kid!” as he left for the nearby Piccadilly theater in Tokyo’s Shinjuku neighborhood.

To his happy surprise, he found that Kiriko was already in front of the building, waiting for him.

They moved into the lobby, where Seiji decided to go all-out by buying not just popcorn, but caramel popcorn. After all, Seiji may not date much, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to treat a lady.

Snacks secured, the pair headed into the theater to watch Japan’s most successful non-Ghibli theatrical anime ever. Perhaps it was the heady emotions from having just watched a moving tale of love and fate, but Seiji could feel himself starting to fall for Kiriko. Still, there was one thing he needed to know, and so he nonchalantly asked Kiriko why she had sent him such an unusual letter, to which she answered:

My friend said I should send you a letter, and I thought, “Well, you never know. He could be someone special.” But I took too long thinking about what to do, and then I was worried you wouldn’t get it in time, so I decided to drop it in your office mailbox directly.

But because of RocketNews24’s reputation, I figured I should write an interesting letter. Even with the hatasejo-style, though, I felt it still needed something extra. While I was thinking about that, I went to get a haircut, and as I saw the stylist trimming my hair, I thought “That’s it!” So I had her gather the trimmings up, and I tied a bunch together and put it in the envelope too.

A wave of embarrassed relief washed over Seiji. It turned out Kiriko isn’t violent or unbalanced at all. She’s just a unique, creative young woman, and most important of all, her gesture had touched Seiji’s heart.

With that, Seiji’s resolve was set. He was going to do it. He was going to confess his feelings to Kiriko.

“Kiriko,” he asked, “will you be my girlfriend?”

She looked back at Seiji, opened her mouth, and said…

Oh, ummm…thanks, but I’d really have to think about it.

And so, Seiji remains single.

Photos ©RocketNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he agrees that finding a romantic partner who’ll watch anime movies with you is a pretty great thing.

[ Read in Japanese ]