Friday, January 7, 2011

Identity 6.2 - "To Fly Like Faeries of Fables Old"

Chapter six, act two on

Commentary below.

I think this is an act I wouldn't have written before--at least, not the way it's written now. It's simple in construction; I'm actually rather surprised it turned out as long as it did. That's not to say I'm unhappy with it. Quite the contrary, I'm pleased that I could tell this aspect of the story in a way that didn't feel underdeveloped and without stretching it out unduly.

Coming from canon, where injuries are comical and treated as such, there's a lot of death in this story, a lot of death just in this installment. I think Ranma sees himself as having crossed a precipice when he killed Saffron, no matter how justifiable it may be, and while that event doesn't paralyze him or make him unable to use necessary force now, it also compels him to remember, to remind himself, that what he's doing is ugly no matter how he rationalizes it. There is, or there should be, a part of him that detests what he's involved in now.

Yet there's also a part of him who's all too glad to see it done. It's not reckless, insane pleasure, no, but it strikes him as just and fair. That is the wrath he brings down on the Sorcerers. I know there was one reviewer who said he was sick to death of Ranma "holding back." I could only smile to myself a little bit, knowing that this act was coming. You can't make Ranma a cold-blooded weapon overnight, and he still isn't that even after the events of this act. Because he takes no pleasure in his deeds, he's not a monster.

As always, the early parts of a chapter are setup for things to come. Here, I wanted to emphasize Ranma's budding mastery over Sorcerer arts. It really is quite incredible that he's come this far with magic, isn't it? Some might say too incredible, even for a character who's shown vast aptitude for foreign techniques in the past. I let you, the reader, decide on that point. But it will soon come to the point where even the Sorcerers fear Ranma to a degree. He represents nothing they've ever seen before: an outsider who wields their magic to a great extent.

Of course, with a story as dour as this, it's important to have moments of levity to lighten the mood, to provide contrast, and I hoped to do that with Ranma's learning to fly scene. There is, of course, an anachronism in Ranma knowing of Buzz Lightyear, but I think it's a forgivable one. All in the name of fun, after all.

I admit, one of the things I worried about was the Amazons' arrival. There's no avoiding that it's convenient, but as always, I note that if they hadn't arrived, is it certain that Ranma wouldn't have escaped the Sorcerers anyway? Wounded, maybe he would've been caught, but maybe not. Surma's arrival here does suggest that this installment is some number of days after the previous one, so the timing is a little tricky, but I felt this was the best way to tell the story, to let all the pieces be shown on the board, so to speak, before we get to how they come into conflict and interact.

Anyway, that concludes the commentary for act two. See you next week!

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