Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where is Jusenkyo?

I've drafted act three of "Journey to Jusenkyou"; it's a bit meandering, and I think I want to clean it up, but I'm happy to have, well, let's call it a change of perspective. As a result of changes made to the structure of the chapter, I now anticipate a short fourth act followed by either one or two more. Two is more likely. Again, however, I anticipate a lot of cleaning up for acts two and three, the latter in particular. I think, at this point, I will be pleasantly surprised if the chapter is finished by the end of the month, which saddens me. I'd really hoped to get on a pace more like a chapter a month.

On chapter length: I'm giving serious thought to breaking the chapters on FFN and posting material one act at a time. This would have some benefits: I think the acts are easier to digest and probably easier for me to get feedback on what happened specific to that act. The chapters are so big it's hard to get more than a general impression of things.

That said: I like the chapter structure I have because each chapter is, in some ways, its own story. That's not strictly speaking of course--you can't read chapter two without reading one, for example. But if each act break is sort of like "take a breath," each chapter break is supposed to be, "okay, now take 5 minutes and go recover, think about what you just read and stuff." The chapter breaks just have so much more finality to them, but I also want the piece to be readable. With chapters as long as they are, I'm aware that it may simply be too much to handle for some, that the act breaks don't really give people the sense that they can stop here and come back (which I intended they should).

It's on my mind, at any rate, and I think when chapter 3 is done, I will ask to see if there's feedback on it. The good thing about posting in acts is that I could feasibly post an act every 1-2 weeks and do that semi-consistently, which I know would be a big plus to readers, too. It would also give me something of a deadline to shoot for.

Where is Jusenkyou? In other news, I do have some possibly interesting notes based on research I've had to do for this chapter. After all, it's called "Journey to Jusenkyou," so naturally I had to figure out--what all would it take for a trip to Jusenkyou, and what obstacles would be faced getting there?

Jusenkyou is stated to be in Qinghai Province. This actually puts the spring ground on the Tibetan Plateau (also called the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau), albeit only on the northeastern edge. This area is more hospitable than the rest of the plateau: the further west you go, the more desolate and unfriendly the terrain becomes. Indeed, even on the province level, the eastern parts of Qinghai, closer to the edge of the plateau, are relatively more inhabited.

This is the area of the Bayan Har (you might know them as Bayankala from the translation in the New Ranma Project scanlation of Vol. 38) Mountains and roughly the source for both the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers. Indeed, one can take the Yangtze from its delta in Shanghai to well inland, to a town called Yibin, but this still leaves several hundred miles before one reaches Qinghai. The river goes up the mountains further, but it is impossible to navigate.

In the manga, we see Ranma and company depart Tokyo by boat, but I think this somewhat intractable. (The following is almost entirely based on rough guesstimation based on distances and speeds; the speeds in particular may be inaccurate). Shanghai is roughly 1000 miles as the crow flies from Tokyo. At reasonable speeds, that's probably around 4 days (for a ship making roughly 10 knots). If they continued upriver, count on another 4-6 days to get to Yibin, and at least another few days to get to Yushu, Qinghai. And that, of course, is assuming Jusenkyou is near the Yangtze or Yushu at all. I believe it would take around two weeks to get from Tokyo to Jusenkyo by sea and bicycle, which is what we see in the manga. Train or air would be more reasonable.

Where do I think Jusenkyo is? Probably in the more densely inhabited region of eastern Qinghai. Think about it: the Guide has telephone service. The springs are an attraction of sorts, even if they're magical. I also think the Amazon village must be somewhere close to Jusenkyou (close being within a small number of days, certainly), but again, this is all speculation. From what I can tell, though, the Bayan Har Mountains are specifically in an (admittedly large) subsection Qinghai, south of the capital Xining in the northeast to perhaps Yushu or further (internet information is sketchy), so I think at least the location of Jusenkyou is somewhat pinned down. Where anything else is in China...good luck.

Edit: corrected a slight misinterpretation. Yushu is actually quite a bit further west than I'd thought (looking at satellite maps mostly to follow rivers instead of more clear political boundaries). I do think Jusenkyou is probably between Xining and Yushu or perhaps to the west of Yushu.

Edit edit: added the thoughts on chapter length and breaks.

No comments: