When I conceived of this chapter, I thought this part with Mori and Arakawa would only be half, where the promised confrontation with Asakura would make up the rest. As this part grew longer and longer, however, I realized there was no good way to connect the two parts thematically, and I decided to make this passage work on its own. I admit that, going into the writing of it, I was a bit at a loss for what could connect Mori and Haruhi, for the message that should come across in this chapter.
I was still struggling with that point when I made it to the closed space scene, and I realized that that was a natural time for Haruhi to remember when she’d been in that place before—with Kyon at the end of Melancholy. This gave me an opportunity to confront Haruhi’s feelings for Kyon, which to that point had been very oblique. Haruhi had admitted nothing, even though we saw clearly what she wanted. In that, I think Haruhi has a dichotomy, or at least I’m writing her like she does. There are some things Haruhi can be unabashedly straightforward about. Perhaps that description should extend to most things, but in my mind, the only consistent description of Haruhi’s feelings for Kyon, with everything before already written, was one of tacit acceptance yet refusal to act. It troubled me somewhat to do this without really planning it very far in advance, but I felt it was the best direction to take, given what I had.
And, in doing so, it gave me an angle to draw parallels between Haruhi and Mori, and parallels are something I like to stress in my work: look at Echoes and how Imi’s powers mirrored Rockman’s, look at Identity and how Kohl and Tilaka mirror Ranma and Akane in importance to each other (though the dynamics of those relationships are very different). I find the psychology of people, of how they justify their actions and sometimes deceive themselves, very attractive to study. Perhaps I find it too attractive, thinking people will convince themselves of things that are too outlandish to be seriously considered. That was a major problem with the first draft of chapter four. But here, I think this is relatively straightforward and not unexpected. Having Haruhi convince herself she’s fine with whoever Kyon wants or is close to him is a step up from being jealous at slight provocations. Having Mori tell herself that this it’s a wonderful experience being an esper when it’s nothing she really wanted is understandable. I only regret that I couldn’t show more of that here.
Arakawa Seijio pointed out that the ending of last chapter didn’t really give a clear idea what would come next, and as a result, we’re not certain what Haruhi’s motives are—at least, outside a very, very general statement of intent—until she goes to Asakura at the end of this chapter. On the one hand, I definitely understand the confusion, and as I told him, some of the weakness on that front may stem from splitting this chapter in two. In doing so, the sense of conclusion from Haruhi having confronted both Mori and Asakura, the people who manipulated her, is delayed. I admit that I felt the ending of four would’ve been too weak if we got to Mori’s theater and just ended there. In hindsight, I may change that, but I don’t think I will now, while people who have already read four may be confused.
If I had better background in international theater, I would’ve tried to do something to start this chapter using, for example, Nō, as is mentioned, but I really just don’t know enough about Japanese stage to do that convincingly, or at least not to the level of knowledge and confidence that I’d want. The Crucible is something I at least have familiarity with, and the role of Abigail Williams just jumped out at me for Mori. It also builds on the theme of acting and deception. How Abigail fools the court at the witch trials is so very much like Mori’s performance for Haruhi at the station. It’s theatrical, and it’s done with full knowledge of the act being committed.
After the monstrous deed Mori did, intimidating Haruhi, I wanted to paint this woman as sympathetic but still not someone we can completely accept. Where others in the esper community are frightened by Haruhi’s power (see how Arakawa immediately says that Mori should apologize?), Mori isn’t. Mori, I think, only fears for the consequences that may result. And while Mori’s method depended on Haruhi being a fundamentally good person (which is something I wanted to emphasize), it still misses that in the end, Mori didn’t trust Haruhi enough to tell her the truth (or think that she’d be believed). That’s why this doesn’t turn into a blithe love-fest. There can be only…an uneasy respect, a mix of compassion and guilt and wariness on the part of Haruhi.