Saturday, May 21, 2011

"Sunday at Mother's"

"Sunday" is a little story I'd started writing two years ago while on vacation in Florida. I'd long been touched by the bust battle arc in volume 34 of Ranma, in which Ranma misses another opportunity to meet his mother as a man. I felt it was an opportunity to explore feelings between Ranma, Akane, and Nodoka. On the whole, the piece largely speaks for itself. I'll just give some insight into the making of it.

At the time, I was still operating under the mistaken notion that Ranma and Genma's room was on the second floor of the Tendo house (which, in my defense, I'd found on a diagram on the internet to back the idea). Hence, Akane was originally meant to find Genma in that room and be unable to follow him after he jumped from the window. Here, I had to figure Genma would struggle and even make his way up the stairs in the effort to free himself. Inelegant, but I didn't want to have to restructure the story to take out the anecdote about Akane's jumping ability. The characters of Ranma may be superhuman in some respects, but they still have some level of differences between them, and Akane's inferiority toward Ranma is real.

I originally wrote this story with very short scenes and many breaks. My writing style has changed since then, and I wrote the second half with no breaks, taking out the breaks that were originally in the first half. In this way, it is stylistically more like "Before and After."

As always, I try to do justice to characters while representing how they behave and who they are. Shampoo here isn't evil by any stretch, but she is manipulative and her priorities are simple and clear. She sees an opportunity to ditch Akane, and she takes it. It's not even a malicious act. It just is. The same with Ukyo, who is too tempted by the idea of getting to Ranma to really care what happens to Akane. Granted, it's just Genma, he probably wouldn't hurt her very much anyway. They would use Akane as a distraction to him, and that's okay. Not honorable, but not evil.

At the time, which was again near the time I started working on Identity (remember, I wrote "In the Cold Rain" in four days in July 2009, only to break it apart and rewrite it over the following four months, extending it by about 10,000 words), I still had Nabiki calling Ranma only by his family name. I fixed that here, in the sense that when she's done playing her trick on Akane, she reverts to what I think she normally calls Ranma--"Ranma-kun." I extended that scene a touch, having Akane realize to her horror just what she'd done and how Nabiki would probably use it. This scene is an illustration of my theory of Ranma and Akane's thought processes: that you can get them to harp on each other's faults to an extent, but when other people start saying such things, it won't be long before either of them try to punch the offender in the face, so to speak.

I remember I'd initially stopped writing this story because I felt it was too short and quick. I don't think that now, of course, and having had the confrontations with Genma and Ranma in my mind for so long, I'm very pleased with the results. It was an opportunity to show Akane's mettle and Ranma's devotion to his mother, and all along, the undercurrent that Akane was part of Ranma's struggle to prove himself, while Ukyo and Shampoo were ignorant, was important to me. It also gave me the chance, with this story, to explain how Ukyo and Shampoo knew where Nodoka's house was in volume 36.

The final scene, where Ranma and Akane run into the incense flyer, is a reference to the following arc in the manga, the incense of spring sleep (which was made into the latest OVA). Originally, I didn't remember that it was Akane who bought the candles, not Kasumi, so I had to alter the scene slightly to make it work. This wasn't an idea I'd had before returning to the story a couple weeks ago, but it seemed a good ending, better I think than stopping at "Look, Mother: I made my fiance" happy. That would've been the more sentimental ending, but lacking, I thought, in lightness. But that's a personal choice, either way.

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