Friday, June 22, 2012

Identity 8.5 - Divergence

I really struggled with parts of this chapter, knowing how crucial it was to get Ranma and Akane’s interactions right. Changes I’d made to earlier in “No Place of Sanctuary” had to be reflected, and as a result, there is in general more understanding between Ranma and Akane, even if they don’t see eye-to-eye right away or get along without some tense moments. In the end, though, I’m happy with the end result. Ranma and Akane are making progess and trying to overcome their insecurities and fears. I think that clear sense of momentum is important.

Where Ranma, Ukyō, Kohl, and Shampoo have all had something to say in these past few chapters, this is Akane’s turn (and she doesn’t even get the entire chapter to herself). This is where she can shine and show her bravery—which isn’t meant to prove her worth to Ranma (that’s what Shampoo hopes for) but to show that he needn’t worry, that she doesn’t need his protection. On a moral level, Akane is the most well-intentioned character of them all. While she may fall into moments of jealousy or anger from time to time, I think she has a keen awareness of how those reflect poorly on her and how they represent flaws in her character. Even though Shampoo once tried to kill Akane (and, unbeknownst to anyone but Shampoo, seriously considered trying again), Akane would never leave Shampoo out there alone.

I created the character of the new captain, Liesun, out of necessity, for Xiu was a traitor, and Kohl is obviously in no position to lead. Where Kohl’s ultimately loyal to the people and doing his duty, Liesun is loyal to Sindoor, making her reckless and fanatical as a result.

Ranma’s gambit to get the souvenirs out of the house and Akane along with them was my attempt to have him do something productive while still dealing with his fears. I felt this was necessary, or else Ranma’s desire to protect Akane would become obstructive and hampering.

Of course, one should infer that Kohl is the one who led the Sorcerers to the Tendō home and that when he describes Liesun, he’s not being entirely truthful. Because that scene is from Akane’s perspective, we can’t know what’s going through Ranma’s mind at the time, but his caution in detailing where the box is should be noted. Remember that Ranma is not generally a trusting person, and particularly when he’s suspicious of Kohl anyway, there’s only one natural choice here. I, for one, think that Ranma’s tactical plan here is particularly canny: because he doesn’t actually need to defend the inside of the house, he can keep picking off Sorcerers and only go inside when there’s no chance of getting boxed in.

When Ranma says that the box isn’t in the house at all, Kohl quickly realizes that Akane and Ryōga (or perhaps the rest of the family) have made off with it instead. While he doesn’t know exactly where Ucchan’s is, he can give a general idea. I’d originally planned to have Kohl meet Ukyō at some point, but it didn’t pan out for 8.3. When Ranma goes to find Kohl, it’s just after Kohl has doped himself up with vision dust to get the message out. In retrospect, this might’ve been a good time to change perspectives and make all that explicit.

I never thought Akane would be willing to sit still at Ukyō’s, even knowing how Ranma was afraid for her. Ukyō is responsible for Akane’s safety; she naturally takes the lead, and that’s the role I think Ukyō will embrace going forward. She’s a generally level, well-meaning person also, but where Akane can be idealistic, Ukyō has it in her to be more pragmatic. She’s been through rough stuff in her life, so she knows it’s not all cherry blossoms and roses out there.

It’s somewhat convenient that Ranma and Akane can’t be killed—at least, not by the Sorcerers who need them, who need Ranma to be the Sieve at some point—but I see no way around that, and at least it gives a reason why they won’t die (at least for a while) aside from heavy-duty plot armor.

In truth, I never really planned on destroying the Tendō home at all, but I realized that given the stakes, it was time to give a real sense of damage and change. I was going to have the kiss scene at the end here take place in the walkway to the dojo, mirroring the scenes earlier that took place there, but this makes more sense, at it’s understandable for Ukyō to see them in a more open area, and the umbrella is a cultural symbol for romance in Japan. And Ukyō, while endeavoring to maintain some sense of personal integrity, is driven to join forces with Shampoo and Ryōga, marking the creation of a pact that was also one of my major goals with this story arc. Both the kiss and the pact were scenes I’d long had in mind.

Identity will be on break for a while during the rewrite, but a couple parts of “The Wanderer” are written, and I hope to be back as soon as possible. More on the rewrite in a later post.

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