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|“||At any rate, this game ends now. I will escape, and the rest of you will have a slightly less pleasant ending. I suggest you enjoy your final moments. Goodbye.||„|
|~ Hongou, about to escape the building and leave the other players to their demise.|
Gentarou Hongou (more commonly known as Ace) is one of the nine main characters and the hidden main antagonist in the visual novel 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. A tall, middle-aged man, who according to the protagonist Junpei resembles a lion, is eventually revealed to be the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceutical and the main architect behind the First Nonary Game and the indirect cause for the events of the Second Nonary Game.
Gentarou Hongou was the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceutical, a corporation affiliated with numerous hospitals and selling various types of drugs. Hongou suffered from prosopagnosia, a condition in which he was unable to recognize and distinguish human faces and thus created the First Nonary Game as a chance to see human faces again. The Nonary Game consisted of eighteen children being abducted as players: eight of them were put in Building Q in Nevada Desert and the rest at a sinking ship known as Gigantic. Using morphogenetic fields with their counterparts, the players then had to solve different puzzles in order to escape.
However, an undercover detective named Seven, was also captured and placed in Gigantic for snooping around the docks where Hongou's men were loading the abducted children in a cargo ship. The escaped Seven managed to rescue the remaining children, most notable being June, Santa and Snake. However, as June went back to retrieve the missing gift she intended to give Junpei, the furious Hongou captured her and put her in an incinerator. Frightened and unable to solve the sudoku puzzle without his counterpart (his brother Santa was accidentally put in the same location), June died in the incinerator after the time limit was full. It was much later in the Second Nonary Game, when the future incarnation of June managed to rescue her past self.
Events of the game
Nine years after the events of the First Nonary Game, Hongou was kidnapped by a masked person named Zero and was put in Building Q as one of the nine players of the Second Nonary Game. All the players had numbered bracelets from 1 to 9 and Hongou had the number one bracelet. The players had to, along with several riddles, open various numbered doors (1-9) using their bracelets to form a digital root. Supposedly, all nine of them were planted with a bomb in their gut, which would ignite whether they decided to enter a certain numbered door alone.
During the early draft of the game, another player named Teruaki Kubota (nicknamed the 9th Man), who was a technical supervisor in the First Nonary Game, knew Hongou from the past and thus was a threat at him. Also, the number nine bracelet he had was extremely useful, since adding nine in any sum won't alter the digital root. With these circumstances, Hongou decided to get rid of Kubota as soon as possible and manipulated him to enter door number five alone. Thus, Kubota died after the bomb in his gut ignited and Hongou eliminated the first threat. Later he went back at the hallway behind door number five and obtained the number nine bracelet.
Much later Hongou encountered another colleague from the past, Nagisa Nijisaki in the large hospital room (who was the chief of staff in Cradle Pharmaceutical and Hongou's assistant during the First Nonary Game). However, he was drugged and put in Snake's clothes, and because of Hongou's prosopagnosia, he believed the man was Snake, one of the eighteen children he abducted nine years before the events of the game. Since he was also a threat at Hongou, he opened the door number three using their and Kubota's bracelet and then pushed Nijisaki inside, killing him.
After Hongou, Clover and Junpei entered door number one and went to the captain's quarters, Hongou, already aware of the solution of the puzzles, went further and murdered Kagechika Musashidou (majority stockholder of Cradle Pharmaceutical) using a nearby axe. He was motivated by a letter Zero had put in his pocket after the kidnapping, which said that if Hongou didn't confess his crimes, the man in the captain's quarters would.
Depending on which ending sequence the player chooses during the game, this also affects the actions of Hongou. In Knife Ending, Junpei finds Lotus being stabbed to death in E Deck and shortly after, Hongou kills him too. In Submarine Ending, Hongou manages to kill every one else and supposedly manages to escape the building. In Safe Ending, Hongou's identity is revealed and was also responsible for murdering Clover, Snake's sister, earlier because he feared that Snake would have revealed some vital information about him. Using the golden revolver, found earlier in the game, he kidnaps Lotus (whose number eight bracelet is vital for his escape) and heads to the number nine door. After finding out that Snake was, in fact, alive, the remaining players found Hongou and Lotus in the incinerator. Hongou then taunted Snake how he murdered Clover and the furious and vengeful Snake, despite being shot numerous times by Hongou's revolver, manages to grab his foot and hold him with his last strength before the doors of the incinerator closes. They both die after the countdown.
In True Ending, Hongou's identity is also revealed and after heading to the incinerator with Lotus, he finds out he is unable to make further despite possessing all the required bracelets. Junpei then reveals his past and how he murdered Kubota, Nijisaki and Musashidou. After Junpei and the others escape the building, Hongou is found tied up in a car trunk. He is later incarcerated for his crimes.
At first, Hongou seemed like a trustful person who also had an altruistic side, "sacrificing" himself when he drugged himself with anesthetic drug and was willingly left behind (he did this only so that the other players couldn't enter door number three and find Nijisaki's corpse). After his true identity was revealed, Hongou was in fact a cruel and sadistic man, who didn't care how much people he had to murder in order to escape and keep his reputation clean.
During the past, his excuse for curing his prosopagnosia, was not enough to justify his atrocities and willingness to sacrifice eighteen innocent children. Hongou's extremely sociopathic behavior is presumably because of his prosopagnosia since he sees humans as empty, shallow "monkeys". He was also a master at manipulating others, proving this by encouraging Kubota to enter door number five alone. However, he himself was manipulated during the whole time by Zero without his knowledge and this also proved to be his weakness. In the Safe Ending, Hongou also had a cowardly side, begging for Snake to release him and save his life. By the end of the game he was just a selfish, cruel man and nothing like he merely pretended to be.