This picture of Kazuki Yamamoto was taken on December 24, 2008. He was 6 years old.
Half a world away, the Lord’s Resistance Army was busy with the Christmas Day Massacre against the Democratic People’s Republic of Congo.
That same day, Riyo Mori, who had won Miss Universe a year earlier, was preparing to celebrate her 22nd birthday while still pondering what to do for her future.
A day earlier, Chicago had recorded its 500th murder.
On March 2nd, 2010, he would remember the day that he hammed it up for this photo as he started to get into reading abridged versions of Shakespeare plays in his elementary school library. It was at this moment at the age of 7 that he aspired to be an actor in a TV drama sometime.
That same day, the photographer was with his girlfriend having forgotten about ever having taken this photo, where it lay in his hard drive sleeping amongst a thousand other similar files but those were of girls on the street. The kid here was just a crapshoot. Something to pass the time going up an escalator. Now he was lounging on some beach in Mexico with a Corona in his hand.
On September 11th, 2011, Kazuki scored his first role on his 9th birthday. It was a spot for some English branch where he had to wear a pretty elegant suit while speaking cheesy pick-up lines to a pretty blonde girl on the schoolground. He would then wink at the camera as the brand name came up. Of course, at his young age the humor didn’t quite register with him.
The same day, there was a scandal as China had increased defenses around the border of North Korea. They felt the tension there getting higher after Kim Jong-un had declared the DPRK to be preparing for a strike on Seoul. The tensions died down soon afterwards, with China quietly leaving the troops on the border of the Yalu river.
Throughout the reminder of 2012, the commercial proved a smash hit nationwide and created a wave of merchandise that the school profited handsomely from until September of that year, wherein the company announced the end of the “Nanpa-no-ko” CM campaign. He was already starting to look older as puberty started to kick in early and a grown-up pick-up artist isn’t as cute as a little one. The final commercial concluded with him settling down with a porcelain-perfect Polish girl and riding off into the sunset on his mami-chari. The whole saga would be fondly remembered by many, but, forever typecast, Kazuki’s career as an actor was over.
On January 2013, his family moved away from their Kanagawa town to a small apartment in the heart of Shinjuku. Partially it was to be closer to Kazuki’s father’s workplace and partly to allow the “nanpa-no-ko” to disappear. The classrooms where he attended were huge and fortunately the character was far more famous than the actor. “Nanpa-no-ko” was a darling. Kazuki Yamamoto, not so much.
In March of the same year, the Democratic’s People’s Republic of Korea suddenly collapsed. The Chinese soldiers at the border kept the literally thousands of starving peasants from crossing. It’s controversial decision to fire on those who resisted the soldiers lead to the talking heads firing off vitriolic comments and strongly worded statements, but the Chinese behemoth was attached the economic lifeblood of the world and few could find a reason to let go.
November 1st, 2018. His days of stardom far behind him (although his parents loved to bring them up again and again), Kazuki breaks up with his first girlfriend Michiko. She was a 15 year old Junior High student who he kept in touch with as he entered his first year of High School. They dated only for a few months but she had completely immersed herself in him. He never saw her again.
February 2019. China’s builds numerous offices and factories in what used to be the DPRK, now merged into The United Republic of Korea. The local Koreans regard these set-ups with suspicion while the government of the URK in Seoul openly expresses gratitude for the much needed financial support.
April 1st, 2019. Kazuki goes to Shinjuku Gyoen to take pictures of the sakura. He meets a pretty blonde girl and they start to talk. Thanks to the free conversation classes given to him, he is quite confident in English. He is surprised to learn that the girl was Simona, the very same one from the commercials 8 years ago. They go out to Shibuya that night and wind up spending it in Dogen-zaka. They exchange phone numbers.
April 3rd, 2019. She never replies. He gives up trying to contact her.
March 22nd, 2021. Kazuki graduates high school and has been accepted into Waseda University. He majors in Political Science.
April 25th, 2021. Kazuki applies to go abroad next year. He elects to go to Korea, fascinated by the situation there. He figures that his mastery of Hangul will help him there.
April 26th, 2021. Violence erupts in the URK against the Chinese factories following a plant that exploded in Pyongyang neighborhood, injuring 14 people and killing three others. By the end of the night, hundreds of innocent Chinese workers have been either murdered or maimed, ethnicity checked by shibboleth.
May 1st, 2021. Kazuki and his girlfriend Elena are killed along with hundreds of others in a Tokyo metro bombing caused by a pro-DPRK radical group. The perpetrators are themselves killed by the blast.