[Lowly Co-Editor's note: Chewy, our heroic translator, has finished her marathon translation and is now resting in one of those rooms where they quarantine astronauts. Her vital signs are being monitored as we speak; if it turns out she regains the ability to speak English, she will do some editing and blogging of her own. If she doesn't regain the ability to speak English—well, it's been a good run.]
One of the great things about EarthBound is how much it leaves unexplained, and how indifferent it is about showing you it’s not explaining anything. A lesser game might run into the ground the fact that we never see Ness’s dad, that he appears to actually be an incredibly rich series of pay telephones, but EarthBound just accepts it as a fact of Ness’s universe.
This is the novel, though, and Kumi has turned up the volume in a way we can’t even begin to evoke on this blog. So I knew going into this lowly-co-editor gig that Ness would eventually be reunited with his dad. But I had no idea it would be… so anticlimactic.
Scene: The Chosen Four at a reception in their honor, for that is what’s done when four children slay a vicious kraken off the coast of a certain resort town. Ness sees a guy who looks kind of familiar, and is excited about it for a minute:
When evening came, the best hotel in town, the Great Southern Hotel, passionately welcomed the crew with a dinner party.
Oh—but when they went to the grand hall, it was a standing-room dinner party, packed with people and banquets. In true southern country fashion, the speech was not long, the toasts were toasted, and, without formality, everyone began their pleasant chatting. But people from every-which-way came and sought out the captain and the kids. They couldn’t quite get the opportunity to have dinner.
“We can’t hold back at a time like this, we’ve got to eat as much as we can!”
Paula took Ness’s hand and knocked everyone around as they made their way to the buffet line along the wall. “Sushi, curry, tempura… Oh, I can’t decide! Hey, Ness! Look! There’s a burger stand!”
“Ah? …? …Aahhhh!!”
In your best faux-Japanese: Ehhhhhhhhh????
That’s right: Ness’s dad just happens to be running the burger stand at a festival being held in his son’s honor. “Oh,” he must’ve thought upon accepting the gig, “it’s some coincidence that some other boy named Ness Mylastname with psychic powers just slew a kraken being controlled by the Universal Cosmic Destroyer.”
But it turns out it’s the same one!
A scream spilled out from Ness as he instinctively pointed at the burger stand. The tall man in a red and white striped shirt and a cook’s hat who was busily frying burgers noticed the scream and looked up—he instantly pointed and screamed back.
“Dad!” He charged forward. The crowd parted in shock.
“Ness! Is it really you?!” It was really Dad, and with the spatula still in hand, he opened up his arms.
Next to the iron stovetop sizzling with hot burgers, the father and son clutched each other tightly.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake! So the heroes who exterminated the monsters were you guys, huh? What a surprise.”
“You surprised me, too!” Ness smiled. “Your overseas business trip was here, Dad?!”
“Here,” incidentally, is the bustling capital city of Deep Darkness, but for this and other geographical god-playing I’ll have to leave you in the capable Japanese-speaking hands of Chewy.
[Mixed-Metaphor Clarification Note: Chewy does not actually speak Japanese with her hands. But I'm going to suggest it to her ASAP.]
Meanwhile, Ness and Mister, uh, Ness continue to share a reunion that sounds more or less like the phone call I get once every two weeks from my dad, who has no idea at all that I’m the only boy prepared to use the power of love against the personification of evil.
“That’s right.” He looked at Ness with an embarassed look in his eye and nodded with a smile. “Mr. Aloysius ordered me to all different places, and finally I landed on the other side of the ocean, but… it turned out to be worth it coming here. Turns out almost no one in this country has ever seen a hamburger before! They all just eat it up and tell me how delicious it is. I feel like the chef of some five-star restaurant.”
“I see…” Ness remembered the Bio Ness Burger incident in Fourside. It was clear that the one and only Aloysius was involved in that, but there was no need to distress his dad about it, Ness figured. He decided not to mention it. “But, I think Mom’s really lonely.”
“Someone’s stolen your trademark and used it in a terrorist attack on Eagleland’s biggest city to create a race of murderous burger-zombies who—aww, shucks, it’s not important. But, I think Mom’s really lonely.”
“Yeah…” Ness’s dad looked troubled and he picked at the end of the napkin folded around his neck like a necktie. “I call Rachel on the phone sometimes. So that’s how I knew you had left on a journey to fight a bad guy. I thought that we’d be able to meet up someday, but I never thought I’d see you today.”
Ness’s dad ran his large hand across his son’s cheek. “You got so big on me. You’re working so hard, Ness. Your dad can’t just go and lose, either… I’m going to make our beloved Ness Burger the number one burger in the whole world!”
And then they just kind of go their separate ways. If I’m talking to my dad in this situation we each mention the weather in our own location one more time, then there’s a pause, and then we both remember an errand that needs to be run away from the phone.
And he leaves the conversation none the wiser about my PSI powers.