Friday, April 16, 2010

Commentary: Identity 3.1 - "The Nerima Conclave"

As promised, I have notes and commentary on this installment, hidden behind the "read more" link below.

In a way, this act serves two purposes. The front half deals with the history of the Sorcerers and the Amazons. It's exposition, but as always, I try to embed enough hidden information that you can come up with some interesting questions. Of course, if I mention them outright, it will definitely deflate some of the surprise, but I will say that much of what I have planned is hinted at or foreshadowed in Cologne's story here. Acts 3, 5, and 6 of this chapter will deal heavily with the Amazons and their politics, so this is important setup. And, as I get to touch back on the hints placed in this installment, I'll probably reference this section a lot. I know when these revelations are made I'm going to say, in no uncertain terms, "Do you remember when Cologne said (blank) in 3.1?" It's that important.

But, on the subject of the Amazons, I will admit that this is the last we see of Akane in any great detail for quite a while. If things go according to plan, she won't feature heavily again until 4.3 (her presence will be important before that, but she herself will come greatly out of focus). To Akane fans, myself among them, this may be unfortunate. In truth, you can say that this chapter had (had) three broad sections: one for Akane, which is over now; one for Ukyo, which is the next act; and one for Shampoo. The problem is that Shampoo's section greatly intersects with the plot at that point. It just expanded and expanded. I don't view this as bad, but I know that this may not have the same appeal. It's important, in my opinion, but not the same appeal.

On the second half of this act, though, I was somewhat reluctant to include the image of Ranma again. I felt it was a good gimmick for the first chapter, but overused and overdone it could get tiresome quickly. In this, however, with Akane training in the dojo to work off her feelings, I came around and do feel now like this element can remain in the story (although perhaps not so frequent or central as to grate, I hope). It does give good symbolism to the duality I want to portray. For me, at least, what Akane and Ranma lack is trust of the heart. This is what's kept them from each other and, indeed, even now that Akane's admitted openly that she loves him, it's still an obstacle to their happiness. Look at chapter one: Akane thinks Ranma loves her here, and at the beginning, she's much more placid, level-headed. She's kind and sweet and without the bad qualities that make her seem bitchy or insecure. But that insecurity starts creeping back in. By 1.4 she hits it full bore. She needs him; having tasted that affection, she doesn't feel complete without it (or even with the possibility of losing it). She doesn't trust. And neither does Ranma, really, but that's a problem for another time. All this stuff is what comes into better focus in book two.

When is book two? Well, more or less book one, Tribe of the Ki Sorcerers, is seven chapters. At four to six acts per chapter (and then add teasers), it's about 50 installments, I'm guessing. So it's a ways away.

But anyway, back to this act. I really view everything the image of Ranma says to Akane as her own inner fears (well, this is obvious; if they're not her fears, then I have a literal ghost of a living person talking to her--that's not what I want to be doing. To me, it's important that this narrative device only represent what Akane is trying to reason about herself, not some outside influence on her). You can see how the image is at first forgiving, trying to boost Akane's self-esteem. Akane fears sinking into the black, you see, but her state of mind won't let her reach out, so the image instead swings in the other direction. In part, Akane's just being contrary to herself, but I think the idea is clear: only by subjecting herself to the most damning statements can Akane see the good in herself. She proves it when she comes down the stairs and admits what she's done.

Anyway, that's all for now. Off to work on 4.1.

No comments: