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Friday, January 14, 2011

Identity 6.3 - "What Waits in the Shadow of Madder"

Chapter six, act three on FFN

Commentary below.

For some time I've been talking about writing a story I call The Color Red. It's a story much like Identity in some ways, a trilogy, my next "big" project while I consider other smaller pieces like Before and After and, maybe later, a Haruhi piece I call The Coin. The Color Red would have three parts, each a different shade and corresponding to a different Japanese name: Sakura derives from the cherry blossom, a light shade of pink; from Tsubaki, we have camellia, which flowers in a variety of shades but all generally in the red end of the spectrum.

And the third part (though I've not decided on any particular order) would be after the word for the madder plant---that is, Akane.

At times, much is made about the symbolism of Akane and the meaning of her name as a shade of red. Perhaps it's overdone, as she doesn't write her given name in kanji at all. But it can definitely be a convenient symbolic shorthand, an easy association to make that lends atmosphere and style.

This installment is all about Akane coming to grips with the situation she's in. Some of that situation, of course, can't really be explored until later, when all this mess in China is dealt with and the kids can go back home. And the central fear that Akane has is the crux of the story itself: how much should one change oneself for love? Is Akane losing a part of herself to become more appealing to Ranma? Can she really hold on to him if she doesn't know what it is he likes about her, what it is he loves?

That's the thing. At her best, Akane is a stand-up human being, unbelievably kind and a friend to all living things. At her worst, she lets her anger and insecurity get a hold of her, and she lashes out at whatever's around. Akane doesn't think anything of the former. There will always be this small aspect of surprise, in her mind, when other people notice how good she can be because to her, it's the way people should behave. At least, when her impulses don't get the best of her.

I think that's the person Ranma can admire and be attracted to, and because she doesn't think it's unusual, Akane doesn't comprehend that, at least not yet.

I didn't originally plan to have Akane realize Ryoga's feelings for her in this installment, but as I was writing, it felt like the right thing to really shake her. Again, it's duality--the competition between Ranma and Ryoga for her mirrors her situation with Ukyo and Shampoo. How do we react when we look at others and see something of ourselves? Does it assure us, or does it horrify us? Here, it brings up more questions, more doubt, more confusion.

Having already made it abundantly clear that Akane was being controlled by Keema, the only way to really end this act was to hit home that Akane's realized it. Hence, the blocks that Keema must've installed in her mind have begun to break down, in pieces, in shards, in her voice echoing through Akane's mind. Later on, I'm going to run with the idea that Akane is a little more resistant to mind-tampering than the average person. Not a lot, not as a major plot point, but just to tie back with how she could eventually be broken out of the shampoo mind-wiping and this here.

Of course, by this point, it's a bit of a running gag that Ryoga can survive almost anything, and here, luckily for him, he escapes the collapse of the tunnels fairly unscathed.

Beyond all that, the act is fairly contemplative. It's an exploration of the mind, and I think a lot of that speaks for itself and demands no further comment. Thanks for reading. Act four next week.

1 comment:

octomobiki said...

just read through it, figured i commented here. I didn't understand the ending till I came here and checked it out. As reviewed before, I'm looking forward to more chapters/installments from you!

-Ramzab