“FLAVOR: LYCHEE BLACK”
A MANGA SCREENPLAY
INT. The Library- DAY
(Cue FLCL’s “Stalker Goes to Babylon)
The camera blurs, then slowly focuses to reveal a long row of books.
Through the walkway we catch a glimpse of GARO, a young man around 20
years old reading through his Asian Studies books. His eyes suddenly
lifts from the pages for a second, and shifts to the right.
Sure enough, two ninjas appear out of nowhere, katanas drawn. Garo
kicks a chair into the face of the guy on the left and parries the
sword to his right, spinning around to knock the guy to the ground. The
three of them begin a ballet of death: Flashing blades, aerial
maneuvers, the whole Yojimbo package. They slice, dice, parry and kick.
Garo clearly is gaining the upper hand, he drops one of the ninjas and
forces the other into a stack of books, twisting through the air, he
slices a perfect strike on the other guy’s head, the ninja crumbles.
Garo lets out a sigh.
The camera only shows the fast shuffling of someone’s feet, a startled
Garo looks back, only to have his face get caught by a flying knee, he
stumbles back into stack. Glancing up he sees his opponent. VIOLENT
RHAPSODY, a man in his early 20s, smirked at him. Clad in black, he
looked like a reaper only darker.
VIOLENT RHAPSODY (VP): I’m disappointed, thought Blade Clan’s ace is
supposed to be much better than this.
VP: Name’s Violent Rhapsody. VP for short.
GARO (chuckles): It’s been a while since I have to get serious.
VP: Serious? Haha, you take me too lightly ninja.
GARO: Are we gonna fight or what?
VP: Sure, let me just warm up-
In that instant he was no longer there, his knee already flying up to
Garo’s face, Garo blocks it, spins around into a lightning fast
crescent kick to the guy’s face.
VP: Nice move, should have pulled that out sooner.
Garo, silent now, simply moves in with his bokken for a straight men
strike, his swing missed. Looking down he found Rhapsody spinning with
a sword towards his stomach, he barely brings his bokken down to block
it as VP pushes it forward and slams him into a book case. Fighting
back now, Garo pushes him back, they struggle and *thwack*.
VP: What the?
He glances down to see a butterfly knife sticking out of his chest.
Sighing, he falls down dead, mouth open in disbelief.
GARO (smiles): Dumbass. When I make up my mind to kill you, there’s
nothing left for you to do but die.
He reaches down to get his sword when suddenly Violent Rhaspody’s dead
hand shoots out and grabs him, he stares at it in horror as Rhaspody’s
eyes suddenly open! He struggles as a thundering drumming starts in his
ears, louder and louder!
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
INT. The Dorm Room- MORNING
The alarm clock blinks 7:00, a hand shoots out from off the screen and
slams on the snooze button, a heavy sigh comes from
over at the bed. The camera lifts up reveal Garo, with sleepy eyes
starring blankly up at the ceiling, rubbing his
forehead with one hand as if to shake off another
night of inadequate rest.
GARO (VO): Name’s Garo, college student.
Garo gets up and sits on the bed, looking down at the
bottom of his bed. A camera cut reveals that a
tattered hooded sweater lying on the ground, on top of
which is a wooden bokken, worn-out and blood-stained.
GARO (VO): That is, college student by day. At night
it’s a different story.
He gets up and begins a Taijutsu form to wake himself
GARO (VO): Even in my dreams I can’t escape them. A ninja never really
rests. It’s been two years since my fight with Rhapsody during my
freshmen year. you know work is getting to you if someone you killed
starts appearing in your sleep.
He pauses, thinking back to his dream.
GARO (VO): Sigh, I can’t complain, everybody’s got their problems, mine
just involve around scaling rooftops and clandestine assassinations. I
guess I’m just a little tired of this ninja life, afterall- I’ve been
doing this ever since grade school…
Garo finishes his form. We follow Garo into the
kitchen, where he opens a box of cereal and gets a
milk carton to prepare breakfast. Sunlight pour in
from the window. He sits down to eat looking sleepy
still. The camera zooms out
EXT. CORNELLSCAPE, cue “City Life” by Stroke 9
GARO (VO): Another day. Nothing ever changes around here, everything
always remains the same.
FADE IN TITLE OF THE MOVIE, FOLLOWED BY CREDITS
INT. The Bubble Tea Shop- AFTERNOON
Cut to the bubble tea counter. We hear the sound of the door opening, A
Sammi Cheng music video is being played on both of the TVs in the
little wooden shop. Japanese calligraphy is scribbled on the cloth
draped near the kitchen. MARIKA, an attractive girl with a pair of cute
and witty eyes is working at the cash register. Garo is in line,
looking at the girl attentively.
MARIKA (Smiles): Hey Garo, what would you like?
GARO: Yeah, lychee black please.
MARIKA: Hehe, you always get that. With tapioca?
MARIKA: That’ll be three twenty four please.
GARO: Oh, I have a CTAS membership card.
MARIKA: Oh yea. Two ninety two please.
GARO (Scratches his head): Uh, thanks
MARIKA (Hands the order to the people working the back): So how’s it
been? Do you like the professor for our 203 class? She’s from Taiwan
GARO (smiles): Yeah, but she’s so boring in class I make it my daily
MARIKA: Hehe, yeah I noticed from the back of room.
GARO (Reddens): Hehe…
MARIKA (Looks behind him): Ooo, people are coming in, here’s your
number, just kick back here for a bit and watch some music videos. I’m
gonna be off my shift soon so wait for me?
GARO: Yeah sure.
Garo takes his receipt and grabs a seat in the corner of the teashop,
grabbing a magazine off the shelf. Cue Jay Chou’s “Simple Love” as he
sneaks glances at Marika working at the counter. Laughing along with
the customers, she’s looking cute as usual, Different cuts of the girl.
The camera pans to Garo’s left and—
The music gets ripped out of the record player
-reveals a man in a business suit with an impassive look on his face,
the BUSINESSMAN’S appearance contrasts sharply with easy going
atmosphere of the bubble teashop.
GARO (Rolls his eyes): Not you again. Can’t a guy have his boba in
BUSINESSMAN (Stern): Pearl Milk Tea as a beverage lowers one’s immune
system, not the best choice for a ninja.
GARO: Yeah yeah, compared to the stuff that could kill me every night
lychee black tea is like a multivitamin plus.
BUSINESSMAN: There is no time for small talk. You’ve got a mission
GARO: What else is new.
BUSINESSMAN (Nods): Crimson Dragon. U-Jin Clan.
GARO (Now more interested): Shit, the new guy who started making a name
for himself last year? I heard he wasted two of our best chounins?
BUSINESSMAN: He’s meeting Mitsubishi operatives here for some Ying Chi,
negative chakra transaction.
GARO (a hint of sarcasm): Here at Cornell?
BUSINESSMAN: Where else could you find worse karma?
The businessman puts a cigarette into his mouth and is about to light
his lighter when Marika shouts off screen, “Hey you can’t smoke in
here!” He looks apologetic and mumbles “sorry” and puts the cigarettes
back into his pocket.
BUSINESSMAN: Our sources place him at the club just down the block from
GARO: That’s practically in my own backyard. I go to that club
sometimes, lousy parties, but some good DJs though.
MARIKA (Offscreen): Garo, 183.
GARO (Gets up to get it): Thanks!
BUSINESSMAN: Be there tonight after 9, you know how bad it would be if
this stuff gets out on to the market.
GARO: Yeah yeah, what else is new? Last semester it was neosamurais
were plotting world domination, and the semester before that there were
kung fu assassins were trying to take out the Zero Gravity Team down on
the West Coast, I need a break yo.
BUSINESSMAN (chuckles dryly): Such is the life of the Blade Clan ninja.
GARO (Looks at Marika): Yeah…but sometimes…sometimes, don’t you wonder
what it’s like to be not a ninja?
He turns back and the Businessman is gone, he looks at where he put
down his cup of bubble tea, the cup’s empty with a note on it, “Thanks,
be there after 9”.
Marika (Off Screen): Friend of Yours?
EXT. – Collegetown- AFTERNOON
A far shot from below the hill as we see two figures emerge from the
shop, Garo and Marika walk side by side down the hill as we listen in
on the conversation
MARIKA: Don’t you get sick of lychee black all the time?
GARO: I dunno, I’ve grown used to the taste of it. Kinda bitter at
first, but so sweet afterwards, I like it.
MARIKA: Hehe, sounds deep.
GARO: Wha- I wasn’t trying to say anything like that, just the taste-
MARIKA (smiles): I know, so whacha gonna do later?
GARO: Uh, I gotta take care of something.
GARO (Grins): Something like that.
MARIKA: Hehe, kay, well, here’s my apartment.
GARO: kay, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow?
MARIKA: Yep, laters!
Marika disappears into the doorway, as Garo turns to walk away, he
takes a deep breathe and sighs.
GARO (VO): Nothing ever changes around here, everything always remains
the same. There’s no time or place for girls in the life of a ninja.
INT. – Dorm Room- AFTERNOON
The door opens as Garo steps through, revealing a living room that was
a mess. We follow the camera track to see FRANKIE, a 20 something med
student, just waking up on the sofa, a homemade bowl (w/ a bubble tea
cup of course) laid in front of him with obvious lingering traces of
weed. Radiohead is being played in the background…
FRANKIE: Garo! Just the man I’m looking for, I just got the new
shipment today yo, haha, that was some hit I just had, you gotta try
it, straight outta El Paso, red crystals sprinkled all over this shit…
GARO: ... maybe some other time Frankie.
FRANKIE: Why? Something wrong?
GARO: Nah, just tired.
FRANKIE: Haha, you can’t fool me man, I know when something’s bugging
you. Is it that bubble tea girl?
GARO (Blushes): What bubble tea girl?
FRANKIE (chuckles): Come on man, I’ve seen the way you look at her.
GARO: Whatever, not like anything’s gonna change.
FRANKIE: Psst, well obviously. That’s life dude.
FRANKIE: So maybe instead of hanging around for life to change. You
gotta do something…
GARO (Puzzled): What do you mean?
FRANKIE: It’s like this right? We view the world through our own eyes,
so in some sense, to change the world, all we gotta do, is just change
GARO: Spoken like a true pothead. You are too high dude.
FRANKIE: Haha, nah hear me out man. I’m serious. You ever seen Battle
FRANKIE: Despite the plethora of amazing hot Japanese chicks in it, my
favorite character was that dorky computer guy.
FRANKIE: Because man, he actually tried to do something instead of
wandering around like the other fucks on the island.
GARO: But he died a fiery death that left him in pieces.
FRANKIE: True, but at least he died trying, he managed to change the
world for HIM, and in someways, that’s all we can do.
FRANKIE: I guess what I’m saying is that, all day long I hear you
complaining about how boring life is around here, but I don’t see you
doing shit about it. Sometimes if you try something, then life’ll work
GARO (scratches head): You think so?
FRANKIE: I’m serious man, come on, how about a hit of this other shit
from Wisconsin then? Not that pharmaceutical BS they use at clubs.
GARO: Haha, Kay.
They both sit down at the couch, Frankie swallows his and soon passes
out, Garo spits his pill back out and looks down at Frankie.
GARO: Thanks man.
He throws a blanket on Frankie and leaves.
EXT. –The Chariot- NIGHT
Cue AFI “Silver and Cold”
It is dark outside, but collegetown stands out with its iridescent
lights. Outside the club under the street light, a lone figure stood
waiting clad in dark. It’s Garo. He watches the Celica up ahead
EXT. –The Cascadilla Parking Lot- NIGHT
A car pulls up in the parking lot next to the Celica, a Mitsubishi
Galant, 2 figures emerge from it, it’s two MITSUBISHI OPERATIVES. One
of them carrying a briefcase. Garo smiles, shifts the shinai-case on
his back a bit, and heads towards them.
MITSUBISHI OPERATIVE 1: Who the fuck are you?
GARO: No need to introduce myself to the dead.
The two operatives come in, Garo doesn’t even bat an eye, in a short
fight the two ninjas are lying down on the ground. Garo smiles and goes
to get the briefcase.
The camera only shows the fast yet familiar shuffling of someone’s
feet, Garo’s eyes widen in shock, as he spins around to deflect a
flying knee. The figure twists away, landing in a crouched position on
the ground. He looks up, pulls down his hood and once again we are
confronted with the dark visage of Violent Rhapsody.
VP: Now that’s more like it ace.
GARO: You are…dead.
VP (laughs evilly): Perhaps.
Garo: You…you changed your name to Crimson Dragon.
VP: It’s hard for a ninja who failed to start anew with an old name.
VP (Chuckles drily): For the past two years I had to be on the run,
escaping my own clan members who are trying to get rid of me. Can you
imagine? To make sure that nobody noticed it was me. I did this…
He pulls down his shade, his face is horribly cut.
Garo: Yea? You look better.
VP (Snarls): but it’s OK, for I’ve been fucking training, day come day,
just to prepare for our meeting again…
Garo: Still talkative as ever huh.
VP lunges forward with his sword and they fight, it was a breathtaking
sight to view two jounins in combat, VP has obviously gotten much
better, but is he good enough to best Garo? As the two battle it out,
Garo’s is still getting the better of him.
Garo: Not bad.
VP: Fuck you.
A wounded VP flees, and Garo gives chase around collegetown.
Cue The Pillow’s “Beautiful Morning with You”
While his taijutsu was not up to par, VP’s ninjutsu was hiding him
well. We see different cuts of Garo running through the campus, until a
hint of sunlight is seen on the horizon. Garo finally stops, and sighs.
INT. –The Classroom- DAY
The Camera shows a close up of Garo’s face. He’s sound asleep as the
professor drones on and on about Asian Studies stuff, she takes notice
of the sleeping Garo, frowns and throws a chalk lightly in his way.
Without even opening his eyes, Garo’s hand shoots up and snatches it in
mid-air. He opens his eyes and looks at the chalk.
The Professor frowns some more and goes on with the lecture. The
clocktower rings out, there’s a shuffling of bookbags as students try
to pack their stuff.
PROFESSOR: Hold up everybody. Remember to read the book on Southeast
Asia trade history!
The students ignore her and all of them file out as fast as they can.
Marika pulls up next to Garo.
MARIKA: Sleeping again huh?
GARO: Hehe, I didn’t get much rest last night.
MARIKA: Aww, that much schoolwork?
GARO: Yeah, couldn’t get past this one problem.
MARIKA: Aww, well, go back and take a nap or something.
GARO: Hehe, I will.
MARIKA: Kay, I gotta run to my advisor’s office, I’m gonna try taking
Cantonese instead of Mandarin this year.
GARO: Uh, why? You’ve taken Mandarin for like the past 2 years.
MARIKA: Yeah but it gets boring, I figured I’d try something new. Can’t
just sit around doing nothing.
MARIKA: Going then, talk to ya later!
Garo: Yeah, laters.
As Marika walks away we see Garo close his eyes, his eyebrows tied up
in a knot as he thought back to his talk with Frankie. A faint music
starts playing in the background.
Cue Good Charlotte’s “Don’t Tell Me”
GARO: Um…hehe, do you wanna, maybe like catch a movie or something
MARIKA (pauses for a second): Yeah sure.
GARO (In disbelief): Really? I mean, cool.
MARIKA (Smiles): When do you wanna go?
GARO: Well, how about that new movie Kill Bill 2? It’s playing at 6:30
at Cornell Cinema.
MARIKA: Great, I’ll meet you at the clocktower at 6 then?
GARO: Uh, yeah, sure!
MARIKA: Hehe, see ya there then!
She turns and walks away, the camera turns to Garo, awestruck in the
crowd, the camera does a zoom in, dolly out effect a la Hitchcock and
“Don’t Tell Me” hits the drums and gets blasted in the background.
INT. – Dorm Room- AFTERNOON
The door opens and Garo runs into the room, the music still pounding in
the background, happy as hell.
GARO: Frankie! I gotta tell ya man-
The music stops and Garo stood, mouth open in shock as he surveys the
room, the sofa where Frankie’s always passed out high is empty, and in
the middle of the desk was a note with a giant hunting knife stuck
through it. A close up of the page reveals the following:
VP (VO): How bout it now ace, you didn’t think I’d let you off that
easy right? If you want to see your friend alive again, come to the
bridge by Bebe Lake at 6, no swords.
The look on his face said it all, sadness and despair overcomes him as
he sits down and grabs a fistful of his hair with his face. Cue “Love
and Mercy” by Brian Wilson/Oasis “Sad Song”
Cut to Garo holding a phone in the room.
MARIKA: Hi, this is Marika speaking, I’m not home right now, please
leave a message after the beep… *BEEP*
GARO: Uh, hi Marika, it’s Garo. I’m just calling to let you know that
I’ll be running a little late tonight, I’m really sorry, but something
came up, I’ll be there though kay?
He hangs up the phone.
EXT. –The Bridge- AFTERNOON
Cue Bombfunk MC’s “Freestyler”
A far away shot of the bridge, we see a figure emerge from the woods,
facing him was Violent Rhapsody, unmoving in the wind. The sun was
scorching the sky like orange juice and a gorgeous waterfall pours into
the lake right below the bridge.
Interpersed cuts of various looks on both of them, eyes, fists…
VP: So you did show up after all.
GARO: Where’s Frankie?
VP: See that tree over there?
Garo squints and sees Frankie being tied up in a tree not far away.
VP: He’s OK.
GARO: I did as you are told, now let him go.
VP: Don’t worry, after I kill you, I’ll leave him be, there are certain
things even ninjas don’t do.
GARO (snickers): You’ve said you wanted kill me a lot of times before,
what makes you think it’d be easy this time.
VP: Because, well, see for yourself.
Garo turns around, and is surprised to see 3 ninjas already there,
standing in a perfect V formation, he grimaces, there are few ninjas in
the world who could catch him off guard.
GARO: Who are the three stooges?
VP: You might have heard about them, the Onizuka Dojo.
GARO(whistles): 3 jounins, you flatter me.
VP: Just to make sure.
Cue Flamenco music
A battle of ninjas is something straight out of a Jackie Chan movie, as
Garo weaved in and out of the flashing blades. Barehanded, he entered
the melee with an expertise in Chin Na that would put Steven Seagal to
shame. From no sword, he caught one, two, and finally all three swords
into his palm.
GARO: Is that the best the Onizuka Dojo could do?
The three ninjas, furious, attacked him all at once, caught into the
sudden tidal wave, Garo stumbled back dazed, taking a moment to gather
himself, he rushes forward, and slices three times. Two of the Ninja
falls, but the last one escapes and judo tosses him onto the ground.
Garo, not hesitating, spins into a starkick to get behind him, and
suplexes him onto the ground below.
Getting up slowly, we can see that he’s exhausted, but his eyes were
determined as he looked at VP. Rhapsody slows draws his sword.
VP (Smiles): Tired?
They fight, Rhapsody is definitely gaining the upper hand as a tired
Garo just struggles to hold on. In the middle of this fierce battle,
the Clocktower rings out, a close up of the time reveals that it’s
Marika (VO): I meet you at the clocktower at 6 then?
Garo pauses for a split second, Rhapsody, seeing the opportunity,
twists his sword onto Garo’s, sticking to it like glue.
His sword flies up into the air, drawing a beautiful arc against a
Close-up of Rhasphody’s face, which twists into a thin sneer, he
continues spinning, bringing his sword in a violent twirl into Garo’s
neck. Garo grimaces, a look of resignation in his eyes. Death, after
all, is a normal part of Ninja life.
Something flashes across the screen. The camera pans to see a ninja
star implanted into the ground. Cut back to Rhasphody, we see a look of
surprise on his face and we zoom back to reveal his bokken sliced right
at the tip, the other half was too short to hit Garo, and it just
missed his neck by inches. The camera pans down and we can see the
bokken tip still spinning on the ground.
In a flash, Garo catches his bokken midair and cuts forward. Catching
Rhasphody right in the chest, he screams, only to get kneed in the face
as Garo rotates into a 540, ending the fight right there.
Mid-shot of the frozen moment. Garo crouched down, a sword in hand
driven into the ground. Rhasphody’s body lies not far away. Against an
orange setting sun, it looks almost too perfect. Garo stands up and
brings his sword in a swift swing and puts it back into the case.
He walks up to the Ninja Star and pick it up, it has a funky design, a
strange Chinese character written on it that strangely resembles 4
letters: A, I, Y, and A. Garo looks at it puzzled and looks around to
find nobody there.
GARO: Phew…thanks, I guess, whoever you are.
Garo runs to where Frankie was.
GARO: What the?
Frankie was gone, the ropes cut, a post id note is stuck on the tree
and Garo picks it up to read it.
GARO: Frankie is safe. I put him back in your apartment.
Garo scratches his head in bewilderment.
INT. – Dorm Room- AFTERNOON
Garo runs in, Frankie is lying in his usual place on the sofa, Garo
goes up to wake him up.
GARO (worried): Dude, are you OK?
FRANKIE (wakes up): Huh what?
GARO: Haha, you are alright!
FRANKIE: No shit. What the fuck’s the matter with you? I took a hit
this afternoon and didn’t wake up since. Had some crazy-ass dreams
though, I was fighting some ninjas or some shit.
FRANKIE: Shit man, what time is it already? I must have passed out for
GARO: 6:30. Uh, I gotta go dude!
Garo runs out the door.
FRANKIE: What the fuck is up with him today? I hope he didn’t steal one
of my pills or something.
EXT. –The Clock Tower- NIGHTFALL
Garo shows up at the clocktower, and desperately looks around. Marika
is no where to be found, Garo glances up at the clocktower. It’s 6:37
already, he’s so late…
Garo (Sighs): Sorry Marika…
He turns around to leave but sees a girl running up the slopes, the
camera shows a midshot of a girl out of breath looking at him. It’s
Marika! A faint music starts in the background…
Cue FLCL’s “Bran New Love Song”
MARIKA: Hey Garo. I’m so sorry! A friend needed help with schoolwork
and it took me longer than I thought it would.
GARO: It’s OK! I just got here too.
MARIKA (eyes wide): Really?
GARO (embarrassed): Yea
They both start laughing.
GARO: Um, yeah I guess we are too late for the movie huh.
MARIKA: Yea… (Pauses), but we could still go rent a video or something.
GARO: You want to?
MARIKA (smiles): Yeah. Just let me see if I brought my friend’s rental
As she brings out her purse the camera zooms in on a side of her purse
for a second and we see the same pattern that was on the shuriken, the
same strange Chinese character. Garo of course is oblivious to this,
and just stares blankly at the girl.
Marika: Yep, It’s here.
GARO (smiles): Cool, we can watch it at my place, Frankie just brought
up his PS2…
They walk off into the distance, chatting. The camera zooms out to
reveal a far shot of Ho Plaza as the couple walks through it.
INT. The Bubble Tea Shop- NIGHT
It’s the same setting, people sipping bubble tea and chilling around.
The door opens and Garo and Marika walks through. A BUBBLE TEA GIRL
MARIKA: Hehe, Can’t go wrong with Shaolin soccer.
GARO: Hehe, yeah it was pretty good.
BUBBLE TEA GIRL: Hi guys.
BUBBLE TEA: What can I get for you guys?
MARIKA: I’ll take a taro blizzard.
BUBBLE TEA GIRL: Alright, you’ll be 203, and for you Garo? Lychee black
He looks at Marika.
GARO (smiles): Actually…I think I’ll try what she’s having.
Cue Dragon Ash’s “Grateful Days”