One of my prereaders has intermittently given me grief for not leaving chapter three as a Nozomi perspective chapter, particularly since my intentions of writing the whole story through Shinji’s perspective were dashed in chapter four. I knew this chapter would eventually come, though, so this is, in many ways, a bit of an apology to him.
This is actually the original ordering, with Nozomi’s chapter coming first and Rei’s planned for chapter eight. I briefly considered switching them (I even wrote about 2000 words of the Rei chapter) before going back. Rei’s chapter conclusion makes for a much better ending to the war between humanity and Eisheth. However, as a result, some of the themes and scenes of this chapter, which I had outlined to go in Rei’s chapter, were merely reused here instead. They always had to do with Nozomi (for instance, her persistent fatigue and her battle with the walker and flying Angel) but they’ve just been shifted.
I actually did find myself a bit wondering about what Nozomi’s lesson should be here. I realized at some point that I’d written a very independent, solitary character, and as such she stood to learn to trust in others to help her. This is similar to Misato’s lesson in her chapter, but Misato’s was more about losing faith and personal vendettas.
The style of storytelling here is not really amenable to seeing the bigger picture of the war against Eisehth on Earth. This ultimately works to my advantage, as I can introduce details only as they become relevant (i.e. it’s a massive cheat). Still, I would like to be better at capturing the large, sweeping scale of things in future works. Most likely, I would have to abandon tethering to a specific character’s POV to accomplish this.
There are legitimate questions over how much leeway Misato gives to Nozomi despite the latter’s obvious struggles with the stress of piloting. I had hoped that her forcing Nozomi to sleep might seem like enough, but given that Nozomi completely breaks down, it’s may not be enough.
Shinji’s role in this chapter was a lot of fun to write. This is what I always intended for him: to be a mentor, to see things from a perspective like Misato must’ve in the series. Such is the transformation from a boy to a man, to training a new generation or replacements.
Nozomi’s scene with Eisheth is intended to be an analogue of Shinji’s train scenes. She’s experienced this many times before.
The character of Sasaki I alluded to in chapter three. He actually turned out to be a bit more of an arrogant jerk in this chapter than I anticipated, but I didn’t want to make him just this perfect guy whom Nozomi should be intereste in. Interacting with people means some clashing sometimes. Sasaki genuinely finds Nozomi interesting and admirable, and he’s definitely aware that she has a different (a more personal, and perhaps more romantic and emotional) approach to creating art. He aspires to be like her, to work with her. Well, you know, as much as a kid his age could be like that. I was tempted to have him touch Nozomi at one point, after her battle with the three Angels, but Nozomi would’ve had a strong negative reaction to this, and I felt it was inappropriate.
I had a lot of fun coming up with new Angels, especially so many. One thing Eisheth is able to do is deploy several Angels at once, giving a new dimension to these battles compared to the original series.
I wanted to make sure Nozomi had some interaction time with her family. Originally, I had planned a meal with the whole family, but I couldn’t work it into the final draft. So instead they each get a turn at Nozomi’s bedside, and I really enjoyed Horaki’s story about the Koshien tournament, which is based on an effort by Matsuzaka that I referenced in “Direction.”
The final battle is something that, while perhaps not as action-packed as the first two, thematically ties the chapter together. Resistance to Eisehth is something that each character can’t just go about and do; they have to find their own personal reasons for doing so, and this is Nozomi’s. She already learned to find comfort from her family, from people she cared for. Now she has a reason to be less of a loner and more of someone who can interface with other people.
Finally, there’s a character of Major Freeman who, alas, serves only a functional role here. I usually hate to give such characters names, but here, he serves an important purpose in representing American interests in Japan, and he’ll be making another appearance in chapter eight.