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Chapter 1, Memory Thieves

Manga

Manga[]

Overview[]

Memory Thieves (Also known as Chapter 1) is the manga-exclusive first story from the Big O Manga, featured in Volume 1. It's one of the few stories that shows Roger's life prior to meeting Dorothy, in this case dealing with another one of Beck's schemes involving an armed robbery of a bank that stores memories, and a duo of criminals who don't know if they can truly trust him.

Synopsis[]

“This is Paradigm City, a city without memories. 40 years ago, there was a weird incident that erased memories of all people. Even today, people are losing their memory, but man is forgetful by nature. In this world, memories are the most valuable good…even in this city, crime doesn’t die. My name is Roger Smith, I work as a negotiator. A city dominated by stupidity and hopelessness needs people like me. To fight it, there is “Big O”.”

-Roger’s opening monologue.

A thug shoots someone to death, before standing there and laughing to himself for a moment. He's then called for help by another thug loading a package to a truck and another one wonders how much money can be made from these real tobacco cigarettes they're stealing. They bring the truck to a large, bizarre vehicle to transport the stolen goods, only to be caught by Dan Dastun and the Military Police. The Tobacco robbers flee, transforming the vehicle into an amphibious configuration and driving off a bridge into a lake. They prematurely assume victory, with one of the robbers smoking multiple cigarrettes and relishing in the taste of real tobacco, much to the ire of another thug who wants to still be able to sell some of them. However, they’re intercepted by Big O, and their vehicle gets destroyed followed by the police successfully apprehending them, as the Tobacco robbers lament all the cigarettes they stole being ruined by seawater.

We then transition to the Speakeasy with Roger and Big Ear, where the incident appears in Big Ear’s news magazine. Big Ear somewhat sympathizes with the thugs, states the generic synthetic cigarettes sold on the regular market are inferior and that the real ones probably would’ve been worth 4 million. After commenting his preference for drinking, Roger asks Big Ear about the transforming amphibious vehicle, described as an illegal model of mecha. Big Ear reveals it was Beck who was responsible, citing previous incidents with similar illegal mecha models, but then states he doesn’t know anything else. Roger is fine with Big Ear not knowing any further information, directing his attention to a beautiful woman in the bar instead, Kay. Roger uses his status as a negotiator as a pickup line to woe her, but fails, with Kay stating she only wants to negotiate with time. Before she leaves, Roger questions why she has such a somber look in her eyes.

Kay later heads to a seemingly abandoned industrial facility to see her partner in crime, Marino, and asks where Beck is. Marino says he doesn’t know, only for Beck himself to arrive and discuss their preparations for another criminal project, saying he hopes they're ready whilst brandishing a giant vehicle for them to use for their operation, promising a 50/50 split of the profits if everything goes according to plan. Marino points a gun at Beck’s head, reminding him that he Kay are bearing all the risk in this operation, only for Beck to counter he’s their last chance.

The criminal duo head into the giant vehicle, and while on their way to their target Kay expresses her concerns to Marino about whether or not they can trust Beck, how dangerous the job will be, and how once they fight the Military Police, there’s no going back. Marino silently comforts her. They head inside one of the domes and approach a Bank, before the heavily armed trailer of their giant vehicle activates it’s rocket boosters to charge towards the building, opening fire and taking security by surprise. Meanwhile, Roger sips his coffee and dodges Norman’s question regarding his pay, shooing him away, only for Norman to come back to inform Roger that Dastun has arrived.

Dastun asks Roger to help him negotiate for the incident Marino and Kay are causing at the Bank. They head out and arrive on the scene. Roger asks Dastun why the military police alone can’t handle this themselves on their way to the bank, only to get an interrupted when an officer relays to Dastun the severity of the situation and how there’s 5 police officers being held hostage. Roger states that the area is vacant and the police can simply just attack the building, but Dastun tells Roger the situation is more complicated than that, as Marino and Kay demand via megaphone 500 million dollars in return for the memory files held at the building. Roger is baffled by the ransom’s high numbers, questioning if this is some kind of joke, but Dastun states this bank, a memory bank, contains memory files that are considered the most valuable goods in the city. Roger asks if he’s negotiating for the criminals' surrender, or at least lowering their ransom, only to be swarmed by a crowd of elderly wealthy elites who beg him to save their memories. Another officer confesses to Dastun that the Military Police couldn’t hold back the spectators, and Dastun states that Roger can handle the onlookers. Unfazed, Roger says he’ll have Dastun pay up to help these people, and even jokes that although there’s about 50 people swarming him, he’ll merely charge Dastun as if though there were only 30, much to his former boss' annoyance. Dastun hassles his subordinates to relocate the intruding spectators. Re-adjusting his suit after being swarmed, Roger asks if there’s anything that must be protected at that building, to which Dastun replies that memory files are stored in the furthest part of the building, and that Roger’s objective is to ensure they are retrieved safely.

Beck watches on from a distance as Roger walks in with his arms raised up, signifying he’s unarmed. Beck smugly dismisses any chance Roger has at resolving this incident, not fully knowing who he’s dealing with and now boldened due to Kay and Marino having a hold of the memories files. Roger states he’s unarmed and here to negotiate, to which Marino tests that theory by opening fire on Roger and shooting off his sunglasses. Roger barely flinches, states he has nothing to hide, and asks if Marino believes him now.

At the Memory Bank, Roger finds amusement in the fact that Kay, the woman he got rejected by at the bar, is now patting him down to check for weapons, who confirms to Marino that Roger is unarmed. Marino comments they now have one more hostage. Roger bargains they should let go of the 5 police officers and take him instead, but Marino shuts down that idea. Roger states Marino already has the memory files and don’t need hostages, but Marino states they’re not leaving until they get the money. Roger questions the high ransom, and when Marino replies he and Kay want their memories, Roger tries reasoning that they’ll never get out of this safely, only for Marino to aim a gun at the negotiator’s head, saying he best dare not to trick them. Roger keeps pushing, stating nobody is injured yet and the files are unharmed, meaning there’s still a chance to turn back. Marino states he doesn’t care about the people’s memories, and only wants the job from Beck. Roger counters by stating the police will pursue them forever, and asks if he really wants to sacrifice the future for the past, before then asking how Marino can be sure that Beck isn’t going to betray him. This causes Marino’s resolve to visibly waver for a moment, only for Kay to aim her gun behind Roger’s head and state she’ll do anything to get her memories back, having finally made up her mind on the matter.

Beck gets impatient and operates the armored vehicle himself via remote control, shooting up the building and memory files whilst telling Marino on the radio to “finish it”, asking if he wants his memories back or not, as the weapon fire sets the building in flames. Kay says it’s all or nothing, and Marino picks up some of the memory files and throws them into the growing fire whilst demanding the Military Police to hurry with the ransom, or else the memory files will burn up.

Everyone notices the ground trembling, but only Dastun recognizes what’s about to happen, whilst Roger flees the scene. Dastun demands the military police hurry and get the citizens and bystanders to a safe place as Roger laments that he the situation is too out of control to be handled simply by negotiating, acknowledging that it’s time to call upon Big O. Marino is visibly intimidated, but Beck eggs him on to open fire on Big O, which ends up having no effect whilst Dastun worries of potential damage being done to the building. Kay asks where Marino is, saying they stand no chance against the black megadeus with their armored car, only for Marino to retort there’s no other way, and that he’ll testify for her that Beck shot the files and was responsible for their destruction. Kay pleads out loud to Roger, asking what her past with Marino was, not knowing if they were lovers, siblings, or even rivals. Roger replies that what’s over is over and that one can’t simply bring back the past, whilst using Big O to destroy the weaponized trailer to the armored car in a single punch. Kay counters that she is nothing without her past, and before Roger can reply, Beck tells Marino to pull the red handle in the cockpit of his armored car. When Marino pulls to the red handle, the armored car transforms into a small megadeus, which Marino finds rather impressive, his resolve reinvigorated by the possibility of defeating the black megadeus, as that means nothing would be able to stop them.

Marino has his megadeus attack Big O with it’s extending arms, but Big O blocks with it’s arm shields and counter-attacks by punching a hole through the stout megadeus’ chest, disabling it and debilitating Marino. Beck is stunned and berates Marino for making this deal with him in the first place, attempting to dodge responsibility for this mess. Marino is baffled, saying Beck promised him his memories. Beck jokes that he doesn’t remember promising Marino any memories, before then activating a self-destruct sequence in Marino’s megadeus, detonating it. Roger and Big O are unfazed by the detonation, and even managed to save Marino and the cockpit from the explosion, setting it down in front of Kay. Big O then returns to the underground. Roger pops back up just in time to be told by Dastun he failed to do his negotiations, thus he won’t be getting payed. Roger simply shrugs this off, instead telling Kay that she can’t bring back her past, and what matters is the present and future.

Roger’s Epilogue:

“Paradigm City. A city without memory. But its inhabitants continue to live here and now.”

The End.

Trivia[]

  • Megadeus: Big O, Ampibious Mecha Vehicle, Armored Mecha Vehicle
  • Paradigm City: The Memory Bank
  • R. Dorothy Wayneright isn’t seen at all in this chapter, due to it taking place prior to Roger and Dorothy’s first meeting in the manga timeline, simply being a glimpse inside the life of Roger Smith prior to meeting Dorothy.
  • This story shows the first time Roger and Beck conflict with each other (at least in the manga timeline), with neither previously knowing anything of the other prior to this story.
  • Kay’s name is never revealed in the chapter itself, but rather in the Paradigm Gallery upon being translated. Unfortunately, official names for the amphibious mecha, armored vehicle mecha and memory bank haven't been found.
  • Possibly due to translation errors, the word "Megadeus" is barely used, with the 2 transforming robots exclusive to this chapter being described as "mecha". The only exception to this is when characters describe Big O, who was also nick-named simply "Megadeus" in the anime too.
  • The manga-exclusive running gag of Roger trying to avoid paying Norman first appears in this chapter.
  • One of the first recurring differences between the manga and anime starts up when Big O is summoned to action, where instead of the usual “Cast In The Name of god, ye not guilty”, a different line that says “May art thou without sin, be given power over this machine” appears in it's place, and does so for the entirety of the manga series. It's unknown if this is another one of the many translation errors in the manga or if it's intentional and lore-based.
  • It’s revealed (at least in the manga) that people still lose their memories from time to time in the present of Paradigm City, which may have been the case for Marino and Kay.
  • Natural Tobacco is no longer produced, possibly due to the event 40 years ago, and it’s prized as a precious substance compared to the synthetic cigarettes produced in the present day.
  • Despite being revealed to be an android in episode 26 of the anime, Big Ear is capable of smoking, thus meaning he's capable of breathing, and possibly even being capable of tasting, as he comments on the inferior quality of synthetic cigarettes whilst having a puff. Those cigarettes' also, according to the Tobacco thieves, had inferior taste to the ones with real tobacco, which one of them described as delicious whilst smoking several at once.
  • There are banks in Paradigm City specifically designed for the purpose of storing files on memories and records of the past, which are considered the most valued goods in Paradigm city.

Citation[]

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