By Jeriaska . May 2, 2008 . 3:01pm
Having scanned scramble crossing, Neku finds himself afflicted with a troubling case of amnesia. You can hear the clatter of trains passing overhead on the soundtrack in what appears to be the dark of night. The protagonist's hostility toward others and distrust of Shiki in particular are far from lifted by the realization that he has come to beneath the station underpass with no recollection of how he got there.
Neku notices the date has changed on his phone. You have already discovered that during missions it is practically impossible to make contact with bystanders not playing the Reaper's game, and the countdown to erasure that compels your characters to fulfill their assigned tasks seems to exist on a timeline removed from everyday reality. Shiki flippantly dismisses the full day that has gone by, goading Neku onward toward completing their next mission. According to the message from the Reapers that appears on their phones, they have an hour to "Set the cursed sculpture free" or face erasure. The two immediately draw the same conclusion, that the statue in question must be that of the faithful dog Hachiko, a famous meeting place located outside the train station.
On their way outside the graffiti-strewn underpass–another of the game's superimpositions of hip hop culture upon the reality of Shibuya, Japan–an invisible barrier appears, zapping the protagonists. At this point you notice the red hoodie from the day before observing your actions from the shadows. Neku is reminded of how the stranger in the baseball cap cannot be scanned, signaling that he must either be a player or working for the enemy. When he orders the party to clear the area of Noise to move on, it seems certain that the onlooker is a crony of the Reapers. Before taking off, the red hoodie cryptically warns them that the world is more than it seems.
Before scanning for the noise in the underpass, Shiki alerts you to a few new pins in Neku's possession. Since the missions keep getting more difficult as you progress, getting better acquainted with the weapons in your arsenal is essential to survival. Activating the pin with the stylus, a blue light fills the cavernous room, revealing several floating yellow orbs.
Each of the next three battles acts to familiarize you with the particular features of the new pins. Once a fight has started, tapping a croaking frog creature with the stylus causes Neku to fire projectiles from his hands. The lightning pin requires you to quickly tap your stylus on the enemy, sending thunder bolts down on the targeted foe. The psychokinesis pin allows you to move obstacles around using your telepathic powers, letting you fling motorbikes and roadblocks at the Noise. Once the gauge for each pin empties, you are forced to wait until it fills back up before repeating the same attack, but alternating between sending obstacles careening toward the frogs and barbecuing the enemy with the flame pin affords them few chances to eat away at your hitpoints. The last pin on your person, the shockwave, lets you confront the enemy directly by damaging them with your fists as you scratch them with the stylus.
After clearing these battles, the red hoodie mutters with his characteristic absence of emotion that the objective has been met. The party is now able to move on beyond the underpass. Counter to what seemed to be nighttime found within the unlit station, bright sunlight awaits outside. Upon exiting into the light outside the station's Midori no Madoguchi ticket window, you find yourself accosted by a bulky, enraged teenager in chains. Apparently able to scan just like Neku, the stranger mistakes the two of you for Reapers. Before he strikes, a voice calls out behind him, belonging to his partner. It turns out that Beat and Rhyme were assigned to the same mission yesterday to reach Building 104 and escaped erasure only when Shiki and Neku managed to complete the task for them. You are instructed on how to equip pins by clicking on the cellphone icon in the corner of the touch screen. The Players propose pooling their resources to complete the day's mission of freeing the accursed statue, offering your characters a valuable soda bottle pin that restores HP. Naturally, Neku will have nothing of it, saying he does not trust strangers. Offended by his accusations, Beat storms with diminutive Rhyme in tow. Shiki nearly loses it, watching the damage entailed by Neku's rudeness, but the protagonist tells her he would just as soon they break their pact so he can take on the Noise alone.
At this point you are allowed to enter the cellphone screen and save your game. Hopefully you have not passed over any events you would like to revisit again soon, as you are not allowed to save your progress at multiple points in the story. Equipping two of your pins at this point, you can make your way to the far side of the overhead map where another barrier awaits you, blocking your way to Hachiko. After briefly losing hope, Shiki notices that another statue awaits nearby. It is a Moyai, a stone head like the ones found terrestrially in Easter Island, or extraterrestrially in Pariodius. Using his scanning technique, Neku summons the yellow Noise orbs from the surrounding region. Taking out the enemies, the two discover that while the countdown still appears on their palms, they can now progress to the next area without difficulty. After your characters have taken off on their way to the mission's goal, the action briefly cuts to the dimly lighted boardroom where the two Reapers previously appeared. Now we see a giant with unkempt locks of hair cascading down his head watching the characters from his perch on the upper floors of an office building. Unquestionably a Reaper, he seems to desire something from the Players.
Inspecting the Hachiko statue, Shiki exclaims that the stone dog looks off somehow… "He seems less lovable." She cannot quite put a finger on what is wrong with it, but you can notice a luminous blue marking on the dog's side. Neku activates his scanning, but to their surprise no enemies are revealed. There is a Noise that looks and oinks like a pig hiding in the corner of the screen which appears together with a green orb, but defeating the porcine foe before it flees does nothing to lift the curse on the dog statue.
Returning to the bus terminal where the cleansed Moyai statue is located, you notice a bystander lamenting over Hachiko's loss of luster. Scanning him, you hear him saying "If only I could polish all Hachiko's pain away." Neku calls him idiotic, but the stranger's remarks give Shiki the idea of physically polishing the dog statue to undo the curse. Having hit upon the idea, you can now return to Hachiko and are presented with the option of tidying up the place. Tracing the outline of the statue with the stylus, the dirt and grime is lifted, while a blue imprint is revealed. A menacing growl appears on the soundtrack.
No sooner have you polished the statue than the Noise attacks in the form of three wolflike enemies and a powerful black porcupine. The two characters take to their stations on either screen of the DS to face off against the Noise. The boss's quills stretch beneath the ground and jut up through the pavement, damaging both your characters. Alternating between pins and ensuring that Neku and Shiki take turns passing their green puck back and forth helps quickly dispatch the foe, which disappears in an explosion of light.
When you clear away the enemies, the curse on Hachiko is lifted, and the timer on your palm disappears. But it seems that though you have completed the mission, your victory has only cued the Reapers to target your party. Neku recognizes the coquettish pink-haired woman from when she appeared near Building 104 the previous day. The Reaper approaches the protagonists with an offer. Summoning a circle of the Noise, she says she will release Neku from the requirements of the game with his consent. In a hurry to escape his predicament, Neku ignores Shiki's warnings and agrees to whatever "ticket out" will release him from his bondage. To their shock, the Reaper accuses Shiki of being a spy for the Reapers. She orders Neku to kill his partner within one minute to gain his freedom, or face erasure himself.
Realizing he is trapped between murder and self-sacrifice, he morbidly tells Shiki that he has no choice. The action jumps to a cinema cutscene in which Neku stretches out his hand and lifts Shiki into the air with his telepathic powers. With Neku's partner suspended above ground and losing consciousness, the second chapter abruptly ends.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.