T/N: Spoilers for Volume 11 onward.
Excerpt of a report by Tatsugami Aya, novice reporter at Tokyo Warrior.
Ikebukuro has an urban legend of a headless rider. However, when it comes to urban legends, the idea of a headless rider itself was not born in Ikebukuro.
There was no specific region that could be specifically identified as the origin, but when the rumours had first begun to spread it was all across the country.
The story had at first spread with a strong spiritual theme, revolving around the vengeance of a motorcyclist who had been decapitated by a wire strung across the road.
The shock of the decapitation, combined with spiritual factors, birthed an urban legend – by these requirements alone it is unsurprising for various forms of the myth to have sprung up in different regions. But the case of Ikebukuro is somewhat different.
If one were to say how, it would be that the legend could be described to be more like an Unidentified Mysterious Animal (UMA) like the Loch Nesse or Yeti.
After all, irrelevant to whether the figure of the Headless Rider emanates any sense of supernaturality (setting aside whether that exists), tens of thousands of people can see it.
It was captured clearly on cameras and broadcast on TV, resulting in the entire country coming to know of it.
Normally this would be where one assumed it was just special effects, but there were too many witnesses.
Moreover this Headless Rider has apparently been showing up around Ikebukuro for more than 20 years, and only with the increasing popularity of camera-equipped mobile phones came to be captured on camera.
At first due to its exoticness the mass media would buy such filmed data, but now there is too much and the videos are common enough they only feel like videos of dogs and cats on the internet.
Even so, except for those in Ikebukuro who have witnessed it, whether there actually is a headless being driving around the city is probably only half-believed at the moment.
At first I as well had thought that the footage caught on the TV camera was only a trick video.
It was footage from on-scene filming with the police, but it was not unthinkable that the on-scene filming itself could have been a faked performance.
That was what I thought; I felt it was no different from forged photographs that go viral on the internet.
In fact, that was what I thought all until meeting ‘it’ in the city of Ikebukuro.
A motorcycle that sped past with a soundless engine, and did not even reflect light.
The being that rode it wore a helmet, so I did not know if its head was truly missing, but that was the least of my concerns.
The fact that even travelling extremely fast there was not even the slightest sound of the engine running was by itself extremely unusual.
To make things stranger, the Headless Rider, who appeared to be being chased by a white motorcycle, with a black substance from its own body – that could only be described as ‘shadow’ – created a black road before it.
Honestly, after seeing a scene as unbelievable as a motorcyclist travelling on a road of their own making, whether or not the Headless Rider was indeed headless became no more than a petty detail.
From that point on, I have sought the Headless Rider.
As a result, I have attained certain curious pieces of information.
When a King Television reporter interviewed it on the road, I understood that the Headless Rider communicated its will through a handheld electronic device.
Due to the scene in that video where the motorcycle without headlights had transformed into a headless horse, it was said on the internet that the Headless Rider could be a dullahan.
A dullahan is a type of fae from Ireland, a being that informs those soon to die of their imminent demise.
The dullahan carries its head under its arm, but the Headless Rider has never travelled carrying its head in that manner.
Or perhaps it has, but at least it was not when I witnessed it, and after thoroughly searching on video sites where videos of the Headless Rider are common, there were none depicting it carrying its head.
Amongst the many bases of the theory that the Headless Rider is a dullahan, the root seems to be a vague rumour that the headless horse’s name is Shooter.
Apparently the horse the dullahan rides is known as a coiste bodhar, and ‘Shooter’ could be a spin on that.
(T/N: The katakana for coiste bodhar is koshuta bawaa; katakana for Shooter is shuutaa. Thus Shooter can be seen as an abbreviation of coiste bodhar.)
Honestly, naturally, I felt it was ridiculous.
And there was no way the Headless Rider would use such an easy nickname like an elementary schooler.
But the important thing is the fact that rumours were spreading at all from something as ridiculous as this.
Countless spreading rumours can sometimes hide a truth.
It is possible for the Headless Rider to be the being known as the dullahan, but even if it were that fact would have been buried under the dubious nature of the rumours, and ended up ambiguous.
Although it does indeed have many similarities with the dullahan of mythology – due to how unexplainable it would be to have an Irish fae running around Ikebukuro, Japan, I eventually dismissed that theory and merely kept it in mind.
Another piece of information that caught even more of my interest was its connection with a violence organisation, the ‘Awakusu-kai’, whose office is based in Ikebukuro, and the gang known as the Dollars. Also curious is the man in the bartender suit that has often accompanied it.
And the slashing incident known as Ripper Night that tore its way through Ikebukuro two years ago.
When I heard that the Headless Rider was involved in even that, I could not contain myself.
According to Niekawa-senpai, apparently there was once an information broker familiar with such things, but he became uncontactable about one and a half years ago.
One and a half years ago – was the unexplainable incident involving the Dollars, and an incident where the sky of Ikebukuro was covered in a mysterious shadow.
Could they all be connected?
I get the feeling that all of these individual incidents have the Headless Rider at their centre.
In my mind, that supposition has gradually become a belief.
From now on as well, I plan to investigate deeper into what I’ve found.
Even in the city of Ikebukuro, the Headless Rider is becoming a powerful presence.
Some years ago there was even an incident during the land speculation uproar where a landshark impostered the Headless Rider and wrecked havoc all over the city.
(T/N: Plot from the PSP game, with which I am unfamiliar.)
Simply put, they intended to manipulate prices by painting the Headless Rider as a dangerous figure, and even collaborated with politicians to obtain redevelopment rights.
In short, for the residents of Ikebukuro, the Headless Rider has long been accepted as a part of the city.
There are probably people who are friendly towards it and those who despise it.
Even so, it appears that many residents accept the existence of the Headless Rider as a fact.
It is an unidentified monster, but it is a definite existence in this world. If its identity were to be exposed, would the world undergo a change?
I have even begun to have this misconception.
No – it may not necessarily be a misconcept.
Will this become reporting material eventually, or will it not?
That is no longer the priority. I simply, for the sake of sating my own curiosity, want to expose the identity of the Headless Rider.
- The Headless Rider is female?
- There are accounts that it goes by ‘Celty’.
- Relation to the Dollars’ incident one and a half years ago?
- Connected to the head thrown onto the streets about the same period?
- After the police car was attacked and the head stolen, it went missing.
※ In the Dollars’ incident a gun was shot at the Awakusu-kai and the police station. ↑ Related?!
- Many witness accounts around Kawagoe Highway.
- Was able to contact a major information source.
- Notes of the results to be continued.
And leaving behind this incomplete report, the novice reporter Tatsugami Aya vanished.
Her notebook computer open on her desk in the editorial department, the text file open.
It looked like she had left her workplace after typing the hurried words on the screen.
She was unreachable by email or mobile; not even her family could contact her.
Exactly who was this ‘major information source’?
Colleagues and the heads of the editorial department tried to find out, to no avail.
They did not even know how she had contacted the informant – by phone, mail, e-mail?
And she had disappeared with her mobile on her; save for the police there was no one who could even check her call history.
As a result, without a single hint to the editorial department, she vanished.
Eventually a rumour spread about the novice reporter who had gone missing in pursuit of the Headless Rider: She had come to know of the Headless Rider’s true identity.
That was why she had been vanished.
Had she been swallowed into the shadows of the Headless Rider, or abducted by the Awakusu-kai?
The rumours spread – and merely half a day after being reported missing the information had spread across the internet, and she herself became part of the urban legends surrounding the Headless Rider.
A myth, in somewhat bad taste, quietly began to squirm across the internet –
‘Those who know of the Headless Rider’s identity will be decapitated and die.’
‘Although it’s searched for its head for so long, the Headless Rider’s already strangled the real thing.’
‘If you look too deeply into the Headless Rider, it will come to you.’
‘Those who know too much about it will get a message from the Headless Rider on their phones.’
‘The message will say: [You know so much about me – are you me? Are you my head?]’
‘And the moment you look up from the screen of your phone you’ll be decapitated, and dragged into the shadows.’ Rumours last no more than 75 days.
(T/N: Proverbial: ‘Rumours are short-lived’.)
In the end, how long would the rumours of the supernatural continue?
No one knew.
In all this, only one number was certain.
It had been 15 days since the disappearance of Tatsugami Aya.
Her survival was still unconfirmed.