Avenues of Communication (Complete)

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Lap
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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by Lap » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:12 pm

Wow. And many thanks for the kind words--glad to hear you enjoyed it!
DouViction wrote:
Fri Oct 18, 2019 2:34 pm
Would you mind if I translated this in Russian so my non-English speaking friends could enjoy the story, too? I mean, this deserves to be spread as wide as possible. Really, really good writing.
I'm flattered, though you do know you're proposing to translate over 73,000 words, right? :D ... In any event, if you're really feeling that, ah, dedicated to the task, that'd be fine, I only ask that you link back to the original work here, and give me a link to the translated copy for my own interest. Where would you be posting it?

Not sure if posting a Russian translation on this discussion board would fit in the normal purview of this place, but I also post on Archive of Our Own, you could easily post it there, too. And/or I could post it for you, with your name as translator tied to it, of course.

Again, thanks!
Avenues of Communication: Shizune suffers an accident.
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival: Hanako's first days at Yamaku. (On Hiatus)
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).
One-shots

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Razoredge
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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by Razoredge » Sat Oct 19, 2019 1:01 pm

Reading Lap's work, is, as always, a good thing.
Man, you should have more kudos on your work.
Lilly = Akira > Miki = Hanako > Emi > Rin > Shizune

Stuff I'm currently writing : Beyond the haze : A Lilly Satou pseudo-route & Razor's One Shots & misc.

ProfAllister
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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by ProfAllister » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:01 pm

First of all, completion of a work is always an accomplishment and always deserving of an accolade. Congratulations. I truly and sincerely mean it.

While my previous comments may have been premature in conclusion, they remain viable for general sense as reading through the story progressively (which is admittedly a reasonably method of commentary, as it reflects the manner in which most readers will experience the story). As such, I will continue comments on a per-chapter basis, then wrap it up with general conclusions.

10

This chapter feels to be mostly fluff and laying groundwork. Not too much to say about this one. But the only Hayashi I can think of is Akio Hayashi, (who has osteoperosis, matching the scenario described), but I'm fairly certain that Akio's a guy.
I'll set aside my objections to your depiction of Jigoro for the moment (by this chapter that's locked in anyway), but I'd expect Jigoro's counsel would be to be careful of who you trust - if you fail because you thought you could trust someone and it turns out you couldn't, it's your failure, not the other person's. In fairness, that could easily be misinterpreted as "rely on no one but yourself."
This also touches on a bigger point, but I'll get there in due time.

11

There's the whole issue with JSL and ASL(or any overseas Sign Language) not being mutually comprehensible (With the possible exception of Misha going to Taiwan), but that's carrying over directly from canon. It would've been nice for Misha to address that fact as an aspect of her concerns, but, at the same time, it's hardly relevant to your plot.
And then we get to Shizune's insight of "We Win"...
You've mentioned elsewhere that you consider this "we win" insight to be key to the whole story. This is all well and good, except for one problem: This is in fact the point where I believe you have a fundamental misinterpretation of Shizune's entire character. You present "We win" as a transformative insight for Shizune, but, to put it bluntly, that's what she was trying to convey to Hisao as early as the end of Act 1. She's competitive because she wants to inspire people to be the best version of themselves that they can be. To pull from the route itself:
[quote="Infinity]MISHA: "Hicchan, what do you think it would take for Shicchan to be happy?"

HISAO: "World domination, obviously."

MISHA: "Wahaha~! Even though you're joking, Hicchan~... No, even if she could, it wouldn't make Shicchan happy. Only for a little while. Hicchan, have you ever heard of artists who tear up their paintings as soon as they finish them? Such people really exist in the world, you know~! remembered it all of a sudden. It's just like Shicchan, now that I think about it. Whenever Shicchan sets up a challenge for herself and completes it, she acts like her skills have no meaning any more. I wonder~, is it because she can't create anything permanent? It's just like those artists, and how they want to create a piece of art to leave behind~, a really great one~, but can't do it. It's really obvious when I look back at it~, but~, I didn't see it before. Now, I'm scared. I wonder if Shicchan will ever be happy."

HISAO: "No, I don't think so. Not about her ever being happy. I think you're wrong. Shizune is actually happy more often than I'd thought. I think it's actually kind of amazing. Usually, people don't think about that kind of stuff until they're middle aged or dying. Then they think “I want to leave something behind” or “I want to be remembered.”"

NARRATOR: "Like me. Only I skipped ahead a little. My life was short, and seemed even shorter after my heart attack. I didn't think about what I was leaving behind, because I very quickly thought there was almost nothing I was leaving behind. So all that was left was for me to stew in my own bitterness."

HISAO: "Shizune already wants to leave her mark somewhere. But she wants to do it by helping people. That's why celebrations are so important to her. She even wants to be a philanthropist. I think it's the best way to live, living on by what you give to others. Even if it's for a selfish reason, that's okay, too. Shizune is already happy, because if something goes well, there will always be someone else to see it and remember it. That's what makes her happy."[/quote]

While I'll grant that this exchange comes at the end of the route (in the good end), it's Hisao reflecting on how Shizune has been since day 1 (by contrast, Shizune's accusations against herself in "Terminal" represent the Shizune she fears herself to be).

Hopefully that at least explains why this characterisation of Shizune bothers me so much - I'm not seeing Shizune grow and learn; I'm seeing a caricature become somewhat more human.

(Side note: I notice that some of your navigation was never fixed; might want to get on that)

12

Generally a sweet sequence. though, given later revelations, I wonder how Kenji would react to learning of the statistically unlikely concentration of lesbians at Yamaku, particularly with regard to their proximity to Hisao.

13

Not much to say about this one - pretty solid/standard connective tissue between the plot points. However, this continues to bring up one concerning note on the relationship you have between Hisao and Shizune: Shizune consistently retains control of all things sexual, and keeps Hisao on an uncomfortably short leash - which kind of clashes with the theme of "we win". As I observed earlier, canon Shizune wants Hisao to seize the sexual initiative; your Shizune acts like she would be appalled by such assertiveness, and smack him down if he tried.

14

The thing I just said about a sexually controlling Shizune? Yeah... ("No fun with the funbags" is a lot stricter than "no baby batter in the bath")
(Also, out of curiosity, I looked it up, and evidently World of Warcraft is kinda notoriously not a thing in Japan. Sachio must be one hell of a westaboo. 'course, then Hisao would probably have referred to it as "some Western MMO". But I digress...)
And then we get the cardiac event at the onsen. When I first read this, it felt off, and my follow-on research just makes it feel more so. Specifically, what I've read seems to indicate that danger with heart conditions only really comes after 10-15 minutes and/or in hot tubs at or above 42°C. Seeing as this is (presumably) a reputable onsen, there would be the warning sign about heart conditions, and having an onsen's default temperature at 42°C on December 24 is kind of asking for trouble even for people with normal heart health. Add on that Shizune would be expected to have at least done a little research about onsens and heart conditions herself (as a seasoned onsen-goer, she's doubtless seen the heart warnings), because that's the kind of person she is. Overall, the incident feels just a bit too contrived (enough to jar my suspension of disbelief, at least).
In fairness, at the end of the day, the incident would have been salvageable to "unlikely" (as opposed to "unbelievable") if the onsen scene were extended a bit to have a bit of "losing track of time" contribute to the incident.
The aftermath is put together well enough, albeit undermined by the aforementioned issues with the precipitating scene. Of course, here you note Shizune doing research on Hisao's condition, which ties back to how she should have been on guard at the onsen (at the very least, she'd have confirmed with Hisao that he was cleared to use an onsen and likely even pressed for details on temperature and time restrictions).

15

My biggest complaint with this first part is yet another Jigoro-related issue (I'll admit that I'm a little protective of the big guy). I'm really not a fan of the whole "Mayoi was a perfect angel too good for this cruel world, and with her died anything good about Jigoro." It's right up there in my Shizune-writing peeves with "Shizune dies tragically in the birth/miscarriage of Hisao's child." (That one is disturbingly common for something so specific)
I'll admit that it's mostly my problem, but I do wish it weren't so common.
Not many complaints about Hisao's old friends, with the possible exception of Hisao's casual "Yeah, we're totally having sex all the time". I guess some people are like that, but it still strikes me as odd.

16

"Hikkun" seems odd not only for the reasons Mirage mentioned, but also because she left a note to Hisao calling him "Hicchan". Not a big deal, but it is what it is.
For the most part, no complaints. In fact, the conflict is a refreshingly new approach to Hisao's parents.
BUT...
I kinda feel the use of "katawa" undermines the punch and emotional impact of the scene. In general, I advise against using "weebspeak" (i.e., untranslated Japanese), especially when there's a serviceable word in English that can be used without coming off as awkward and stilted. A big part about it is for this exact reason. Without being immersed in the culture, you don't get a sense for the "flavor" of the words. I could write a story where a "fribbleschneerp" is a terrible insult, and I could go on in detail about just how foul a word it is, but it will take a *lot* of groundwork for a reader to instinctually grasp the hatred when the Hero, in a fit of rage, calls the Big Bad a "fribbleschneerp".
Unfortunately, this is a tricky situation. Normally, "cripple" is the go-to word here (or perhaps even "gimp"). But those don't really apply to Shizune. I this case, you know what word I'd use, to really give the reader the gut punch you're going for?
"Retard"
To a woman growing up in the 70s, that would be considered an ordinary, descriptive, and straightforward description of a mentally disabled individual, and it wouldn't be unusual to categorise the deaf in that grouping, too. To the modern ear, of course, it's pretty bad. As an added bonus, this presents an opportunity to illustrate measurable growth on Shizune's part, considering one of her objections to speaking was the "sound retarded" claim. This is a perfect opportunity to show that that criticism no longer moves her.
As it is, I understand Hisao's outrage on an intellectual level, but I just don't feel it in the gut.

17

No real comments here. Everything seems to be rolling along reasonably well.

18

The Hakamichi visit was a little rushed, which is a bit of a shame seeing how you could have really shaken up the dynamic with everything that had happened up to that point. A bit of a missed opportunity, there. I'll admit that there's a far chance that I'd disagree with large swaths of it, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't want to see where it goes.
The Misha and Shori subplot was an interesting mini-conflict, and generally carried well, but, pending breakup aside, I find it a little hard to accept Misha being overjoyed to be told "I'm not too worried about breaking up, because I never meant this to be anything more than fuckbuddies from the get-go." While that would give relief on the guilt of breaking up, I'd still feel pretty severely betrayed were I in Misha's shoes. Then again, this being Misha, she'd likely just go into her defense mechanism of bottling it up and putting on a big smile. In which case, OOF.

Also, the principal of Yamaku is female. And a luchadora.

Epilogue

I'll chalk up the differences between the labor and delivery experience described here and my own as different practices for different maternity wards. I'll also admit to being a little old-fashioned and thinking that 30 is waiting a bit too long to wait to have kids when you've been in a relationship since High School. But I guess that's how it's done by most people these days. I'm sure Jigoro will at least comment about having started to think that Hisao was only capable of shooting blanks.


So, all in all? It was quite well done. I'm not really a fan of the precipitating action that set events in motion, and I feel that you started with a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of Shizune as a character, but you did work with what you set out to do. I don't agree with some of your choices on background and "soft canon", but I can't say that they're "wrong".
Yeah, there were several sections that I didn't enjoy, and things I would've done different, but it managed to dig its hooks into me and compel me to finish it. That's saying something. Especially considering that a large amount of what I didn't like is on me, not the writing itself.

Well done. Well done, indeed.
Current Project: Misha Pseudo-Route

Discord ID: ProfAllister#9754

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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by Lap » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:41 pm

Thank you for all the thought and work you put into your comments. I'm a little bit at a loss for how to respond to some of it--I have no plans to do re-writes (though I'll correct Hayashi's gender--oops).

We have divergent interpretations of who the character is. I respect that you're passionate about your interpretation of Shizune, but I don't believe any fictional character can have One True Version, set in stone. Part of the appeal of fanfic, at least for me, is to explore theme and variations, and different viewpoints. I confess to being a little puzzled as to why you plowed through 73k words of a version of Shizune you didn't like.

I was bemused by the notion that the word katawa was to your mind "weebspeak." If there's any one word of Japanese that fans of Katawa Shoujo should be familiar with, well...

Meta-narratively, I used katawa in this context as a reminder that this phrase that we as fans use so casually is, in fact, a rather nasty insult.

One major failing in my story that I was unaware of was the balance of Shizune's & Hisao's sexual relationship. In my mind it was, going forward from the point where he (verbally) tied her up, more balanced between them. But because I had no desire to write more erotic scenes--that wasn't the major focus of the story for me--that wasn't conveyed well. Mea culpa. The scene in the onsen was intended to be more about a horny 18 year old guy potentially getting carried away vs. the desire for propriety and politeness. In my mind there were other situations where Shizune would have been--and was--more receptive to these kinds of overtures. But those never made it onto the page. I probably should have included a bit more of their flirtations, even if I didn't follow them into the bedroom thereafter.

And, hey, at least Shizune didn't die in childbirth :-).

Thank you again for all your thoughtful words. You may be relieved to know that I think I've written all I want to write about Shizune, at least as a central character.
Avenues of Communication: Shizune suffers an accident.
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival: Hanako's first days at Yamaku. (On Hiatus)
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).
One-shots

ProfAllister
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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by ProfAllister » Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:55 pm

No need (or expectation) for rewrites - this is mostly my thoughts on areas where it was weak or could have been better, for you to chew on as well as for anyone reading.

With regard to the difference of interpretations, I think I can best express my objection on the basis that your alternate interpretation is entirely unearned. Whether intentionally or not, you set out to contradict a core aspect of Shizune's personality that informs much of her behavior (i.e., the philosophy of "we win"). Specifically, it is explicitly stated in canon that this "we win" ideal is the baseline motivation for nearly everything she does. As you instead have "we win" be a new idea that she discovers, with a resultant shift in her behavior from that point on, we get a significant question: what the hell was she doing prior to this? The implication you provide is that Jigoro raised her to work toward building a monument to her own greatness. Why would such a Shizune spend so much energy on cheering up a loser like Hisao? (There may be an answer; the issue is that you never give it to us.)

For comparison, this is comparable to writing a story where Rin decides it might be helpful to try expressing her thoughts through art, or Emi learning that she can stand on her own two feet without lying on others; Lilly learning that it's sometimes better to keep quiet about her own worries and focus on the needs of others. Those are all legitimate story arcs, but they need to address the fact that the canon representations assume that their personalities are already informed by these respective ideas.

As for why I read 73k words about a representation that I didn't like? I asked myself the same question several times while reading. I decided that it wasn't worth it several times, but I still found myself caring what happens next. I would say that is a testimonial to the strength of the writing. I eventually resolved that your Shizune was so far removed from the original that she may as well be a different character, and continued reading on that assumption.

As for the usage of katawa, that is why I was distinguishing between intellectual familiarity and, for lack of a better term, gut familiarity. As such, I recognise what you were trying to do, and was more attempting to explain why it was doomed to failure. While there is a certain je ne sais quois (ephemeral quality) conveyed by an untranslated word, in which an English approximation is insufficient, it is, by this same token, an admission of defeat by the writer. While there are situations where it is desirable to leaver the term untranslated (e.g., onsen and ryokan aren't really effectively replaced with "public bathhouse" and "luxury bathhouse", and, being purely descriptive, little impact is lost), untranslated words tend to be woefully insufficient when conveying tone and atmosphere. Compare:
"I felt a surge of schadenfreude from seeing the other team's star player break his leg." to "I felt a surge of perverse satisfaction as I observed my former rival reduced to such a pitiful state."

In this case, the reader is left uncertain. Should he side with Hisao's mother, and tell him to "buck up, snowflake", or should he side with Hisao, and say "Yeah, your mom's a total bitch!" Were it an English word, he'd have a gut reaction and the core conflict of the latter few chapters feels natural. As a foreign word, he has to refer to the cultural notes to conclude "Yeah, what she said was pretty bad, wasn't it?"

You had a noble intent, but my argument is that it ends up undermining the emotional thrust of one of the major conflicts in your story.

As I said before, this is quite well-written. But there's always room for improvement, and the best way to learn how to get better is to look at what did and didn't work in your previous work. I wish you all the best on your future endeavors, whatever they may be.
Current Project: Misha Pseudo-Route

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Scroff
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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by Scroff » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:41 am

ProfAllister wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 7:55 pm
untranslated words tend to be woefully insufficient when conveying tone and atmosphere.
I had never come across this opinion before participating in this fandom and it makes no sense to me at all. I see untranslated words in literary fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, technical literature etc so I wonder why this opinion exists. Take your example
"I felt a surge of schadenfreude from seeing the other team's star player break his leg." to "I felt a surge of perverse satisfaction as I observed my former rival reduced to such a pitiful state."
I understand that you're using it to illustrate your argument so I won't dwell on it, but to me the sentences don't convey the same tone and atmosphere at all - the second is a straight-jacket, the first is a pair of wings.

I am woefully ignorant of the Japanese language but even so I enjoy its high context nature, it let me use the word miko when Miki referred to Suzu's role in performing ceremonies without contradicting Suzu's view of herself as a Sleepy Shaman. There was no English word or phrase I could find which did the same job so not using it would have been a failure on my part and would have irritated me. Did it convey meaning to every reader? Was I at risk of my readership being halved (as Hawking was told about including equations) because I used it? I don't know and I don't care. I hope people enjoy what I write but it's not necessary to me that they do.

Lap's point of the word katawa being important to us is very well made. I head-canon it being used affectionately at Yamaku, reclaimed, so this reader's reaction to Hisao's mum using it derogatively was very much from the gut. Lap trusted his readers.

Anyway I don't want to derail the thread further with my ramblings so I'll add my congratulations to Lap on completing yet another long-form piece (how do you do it?!?!) and my thanks for doing so.

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Re: Avenues of Communication (Complete)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:36 am

For me the "I want to be a philantropist" reveal was one of the most cringeworthy scenes in all of Shizune's route...
I don't know exactly which part of the story you refer to with the "we win philosophy" but I didn't think the Shizune in this story diverges a lot from the canon one.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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