1. I just gave them a little scare. A touch of psychological terror. As Joseph Conrad once wrote, true terror is the kind that men feel toward their imagination.
This is Frog’s response to Katagiri when he asks about the visit to Big Bear Trading. Frog tells him that he didn’t use any actual, physical violence to achieve his ends. He simply played on the executive’s fear. In his explanation, Frog paraphrases an excerpt from Joseph Conrad’s novel Lord Jim (1900), in which one of Conrad’s characters remarks that “the reality could not be half as bad, not half as anguishing, appalling, and vengeful as the created terror of his imagination.”
The notion that the imagination can be the source of terrible, horrifying experiences recurs throughout “Super-Frog Saves Tokyo.” When Frog recounts the battle with Worm that Katagiri cannot remember participating in, Frog tells him that the battle had actually been fought in Katagiri’s imagination. Earlier in the story, when Katagiri is shot, he remembers Frog’s Conrad quotation and turns off his own imagination, immediately falling into unconsciousness. When the nurse tells him the next day that he hasn’t actually been shot, his memory of the incident becomes hazy. Perhaps Katagiri imagined the shooting, but if he did, then that would mean that an imaginary creature managed to have an effect on him. This refutes Frog’s earlier attempt to prove his own existence, in which Frog claims that, by making the Big Bear executive change his mind about the payment he owes to the bank, he has proven that he exists as a real creature capable of producing results in the real world. These inconsistencies and ambiguities make it impossible to say definitively whether Frog, Worm, and the battle actually “existed,” and if so, what kind of existence they may have had.