Friday, April 23, 2010

Identity 3.2 - Night Life of the Dotonbori

Night Life of the Dotonbori on FFN.

I've finished the first act of chapter four, but I think it requires significant polish. The effect of, in essence, having a deadline has been positive, however (I think). Whether I'll be able to churn out larger acts in the same time frame is an open question (this one was on the shorter end). That said, getting this first act out of the way, I'm fairly confident about the prospects of finishing this chapter on time.

Commentary on Chapter Three, Act Two is below.

As I mentioned in last week's commentary, I did harbor some fears about this sort of diversion into Ukyo's perspective. I actually really like the character of Ukyo, and to some extent, I think it may show that I like her more than I like Shampoo (although I will say that Shampoo, despite her outward behavior, may well be the more complex and interesting character--I'll save most of those remarks for 3.3 commentary, however).

What I see as Ukyo's struggle right now is the conflict of desires. She wants Ranma's love, but what she's done to get it frightens her. Her own past frightens her. And maybe this is something she's never thought about before, not until the wedding and the shock of hearing that Akane nearly died. It's tempting to say that all these girls are just outright terrible people (including Akane), but to me, that's a fairly dull and boring interpretation. If these people have no redeeming qualities, why should we care? If they have nothing good in them, then how can we root for any of them without a bitter taste in our mouths?

That's where I started out with this, anyway. Let Ukyo be the one with a conscience, who resents that it holds her back from what she wants most. And in this way, let her be a foil for Shampoo, who generally doesn't let morality hold her back. This plotline, with Shampoo and Ukyo being on opposite sides of that fine line, is going to be a big deal over the course of the three books.

I think it would've been easy to have Ukyo's father push her toward marrying Ranma, but in that, there would be no conflict. Ukyo already wants that. And while family honor is, to my reckoning, very important in Japanese families, I have to believe not everyone values it above all else. People have their wants, their desires. We can interpret Ukyo's father as a man who did a dumb thing, trying to basically sell her to Genma, or we can look at him as a parent who knows no other way to give her a good life. That's probably a bit too sugary a viewpoint; the truth probably lies somewhere in between, or perhaps it's even both interpretations at the same time.

The Dotonbori is a real place, by the way. Granted, I may have drawn a bit too heavily from Wikipedia to depict it, but I think the appeal is natural, especially to someone like Ukyo, to her father. And in a big way, it represents what Ukyo's given up chasing after Ranma, all these years. Ultimately, it drives at the heart of the whole book, at least for Ukyo. Who does she want to be? What will she make of herself? What choices will she make that shape her mind and soul?

It's the reason I call this story Identity--or at least, one of them.

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