Friday, February 4, 2011

Identity 6.6 - "The Descent into Madness"

Chapter six, act six on FFN

Commentary below.

This, you might say, is the act of subtle tweaks. I did a fair bit of restructuring and reordering around the events of this installment, trying to find the right sequence of events to be effective.

Originally, I wanted to lead with Ranma squaring off against Cologne, Shampoo, and Mousse. This isn't a big, drawn out battle. It's something Ranma wants to get under wraps and fast because he knows what's going on up the mountain. Admittedly, Cologne doesn't get to be as impressive as she probably should be, and she harangues Ranma for a bit (a good way to work in a Matrix reference, though). But Cologne, even under Keema's mind control, isn't stupid, and to give up the advantages of having Shampoo and Mousse be involved is significant.

I settled on Ranma letting Cologne finish off the platform and send it crumbling to the ground. Ranma, for his part, can be selfless and can accept that risk if he thinks he can overcome it. He thinks he can fly free and stay under control long enough to get away, and he does.

I said I'd wanted to lead with that passage, ultimately deciding against it, for it felt clunky to have Ranma get to the top of the mountain with Akane and Ryoga gone and have to have, say, Konatsu explain what transpired. A little better in the sense that it allows one to imagine what destruction occurred after Tilaka's bold pronouncement, but having one character tell another over a long passage is something that has to be done carefully, and in the end, I felt I couldn't do that with Konatsu, who to this point has been more comic relief (what little there is) and doesn't have the emotional investment.

So the torture of Tilaka's spell is what we start with, and one may wonder, why should Tilaka and Kohl show them mercy? Is it in the hope that they'll turn these people against the Amazons? Is it simple pity? Something in between? I do think Kohl has a soft spot for Akane, a touch of admiration and respect, but that doesn't go so far as to stop him from striking when she makes a move against Tilaka. What answer one chooses here is, I think, a matter of taste. I do think there are reasons, if only to refrain from killing those who are already crippled and beaten. But I know there will be some who say these Sorcerers should be ruthless and that Akane and the others have just gotten a free pass. Maybe they have.

I mentioned before that I felt I couldn't cut the passage regarding the aviary, and this is partly why. Yeah, Ranma could go into the mountain, discover the egg storeroom destroyed, and have a similar reaction, but this entire space, a huge section of mountain, filled with ice--that's big. That's cataclysmic. It's not just that the eggs being kept are gone. The birds are dead. There won't be anymore. It crystallizes the feeling of loss.

So at last we have Keema, and with her passage I wanted to emphasize the profound complex of her mindset. A bit of what she says here to Ranma about why she did what she did she'll reiterate later, in part 7 (she's not dead after all--not yet), but I wanted this part here because Ranma would demand answers, and Keema, being Keema, would have little to lose by explaining herself. When caught on her scheme, she makes her anger well-known. And I thought Ranma leaving her alive was really the right call on several levels--it helps him draw the line between taking vengeance and doing right by his friends, but that doesn't mean it's not vindictive.

This act and the next couple to follow are a bit shorter than the last few. Not by a lot, but I felt these were the natural spots to break in the action and keep from, say, having a massive finale like with "Journey" or the the fourth part of "Ashes." That's part of why this chapter is in eight parts, but I think they all stand reasonably well on their own, in the sense of providing closure to some elements while introducing the conflict or premise for the next part. Ryoga and Akane are still missing in the mountain. The Sorcerers are making their move to Saffron. And Ranma? What will he do but journey through the tunnels, seeing who might piss him off along the way?

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