Yamaku Book Club (20191111 Two Old & Colourful Pieces)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — Misha!~)

Post by Blank Mage » Wed Sep 30, 2015 12:42 pm

Okay, back to it! Geez, why does everything seem to happen to me at once, eh? Screw it, I literally have all day, let's do some Goddamn REVIEWS.

For Want Of A Nail: I initially thought the most interesting thing about this story was actually Shizune. Although Misha is, of course, well written and, indeed, the focus, this is the only story I can think of where Shizune is a secondary character. Not just a cameo, or a plot device, but a full on supporting character, and it makes for a very interesting dynamic. It shows a very different, yet perfectly fitting side of her. But then, I'm biased, and Misha won me over before too long. FWoaN (what a weird acronym that is) does an excellent job illustrating just how determined Misha is to fly under the radar, to support someone else, to keep people from worrying about her at any cost, and how Shizune has realized that she just isn't equipped to fix that. It's actually a very painful situation for both, but neither has any idea how to fix it without causing even more damage, and it's something few fan-fics ever show to the degree of detail Prof. does.

The idea that Misha's first reaction to being loved is 'no, clearly, you're mistaken, Shizune is over there' just puts it all into perspective. Misha is a character who doesn't see the slightest value in herself, and she chooses to validate herself by helping Shizune in any way she can. She isn't even particularly down on herself; her own thoughts and well-being just aren't important to her. She lives vicariously through Shizune, and if Shizune is happy, then what else matters? It's kind of terrifying!

Everything Else: Today, I learned that there is no such thing as a 'short Misha piece.' Please hold while Blank reads for the next several hours.

Edit: You guys keep giving me horrible ideas. You have no one to blame but yourselves.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — Misha!~)

Post by Blank Mage » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:54 am

Close enough, might as well. The full routes will have to wait, sadly. Eesh, I haven't read nearly as much of these forums as I like to think I have.

Sweet Voice: An all around typical work, although it was one of the first. I'm not altogether a fan of the whole 'Hisao likes Shizune, but there's Misha, so why not' mentality that crops up now and again. At least Tongue Tied has more than a little plot leading to that moment, this just kind of flies in out of nowhere. One thing that does deserve mention is the idea that Misha might often disagree with what Shizune says, and how much worse that is when the subject of these lectures is someone you love. It's an idea I've actually toyed with in reverse, but I'll keep that under wraps, in case I actually stop being terrible and do that.

Constant Companion: I liked this more than I probably should have. I'm a sucker for cheap feels, and as unrealistic as the reactions presented are, I can't help but enjoy it. Taking the time to think about it, I suppose what I find so enjoyable is the idea that all the characters blame themselves, each of them essentially convinced of their own guilt in driving Hisao to drink with Kenji on the roof. Although there's no way they would be so emotionally invested so quickly, it paints them as unsure of themselves, aware of their flaws, and I think that's one of the better traits any character can have. It's adorable!

This is also likely my favorite example of how to write for Misha, and the narration is excellent, as it gives each character a chance to shine, delivering adorable feels while staying lighthearted and fun. Misha's retelling gives you a clear sense of what happened, but maintains a degree of 'plausible deniability' in either direction, so you're never wholly sure how much of what she's saying is downplayed or embellished.

Listen to your Heart: Seriously, why is it that all Misha works seem to revolve around one-night stands? That's really all there is to this one.

Reunion: I covered this before, so I'll just link what I said back then.

I Won't Be Back Tonight: What's Hanako doing in this story? I mean, she has literally zero relevance on the overall plot, so the coincidence just ends up being contrived for no reason. Also, while I appreciate the fact that unhappy endings are every bit as valid as happy ones, this one seems forced towards the end. The buildup of tension is just too sudden, the reasons for snapping too trivial. If it's supposed to indicate underlying issues, it does a poor job, since the only issues I can see are Shiina's low self esteem and Hisao's inability to deal with it. It sounds as though Hisao is ending the relationship for hitting Misha, the end, no fixing it, which seems stupid, as it doesn't even begin to cover the issues of custody and finances. You don't just walk away from a marriage after that long. Really, it's kind of just a dark fic for the sake of dark fic.

Misha's Story: It's always hard reviewing any given section of AtD, since they're so dependent on each other. I think the most interesting thing about Misha's arc in general is how her chipper personality blends with Bry's darker tone to create a more manic narration, which can be a very valid interpretation of her mindset, even early on. Misha here is determined not to reveal the extent of her flaws to anyone, and while she at least admits them to herself, she disregards them as being 'unimportant'. It's a realistic point of view among the depressed, that their problems don't warrant attention, that these are issues they should learn to deal with themselves, because they don't see anyone else complaining. It's sadly accurate, like much of AtD.

As for the plot, well, it's AtD. There isn't much to say that isn't said in all the other arcs, although I'll note that it was interesting to see her priorities shift from supporting Shizune's goals to supporting Shizune herself, if that makes any sense. It has been a while since I read it, after all, so sorry if I'm kind of glossing things over, here.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — Misha!~)

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 02, 2015 12:30 pm

Those are good reviews. Even though I've read those pieces more than once each, I find myself thinking about them and reading them again.

Then I have to tell myself: too much reading, not enough writing! And there's Shizune's month to think about... soon. Very soon.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Short Announcement

Post by brythain » Sat Oct 03, 2015 1:08 am

With Misha commentary winding down, here's the current (not final!) shortlist for the Shizune session about to begin:

Victory Day by Mirage_GSM (completed 23 Sep 2010) [prior discussion]
Weekend At Hisao's by themocaw (completed 14 Feb 2012) [prior discussion]
After Graduation by sg1cat (ongoing, started 07 Oct 2013)
Christmas with the Hakamichis by Numb (completed 25 Dec 2013)

There are several side-stories by themocaw from the WAH universe. Also, DaGarver has a Shizune one-Shot thread. And Megumeru's horror fic has also been discussed. The ones that haven't been discussed yet probably need more attention, but it can be interesting to add to earlier discussions as well. More suggestions would be greatly welcome!

Edits:

1) Shizune short fiction is also welcome. Currently, I'm looking at Blank Mage's recent trilogy: Missteps and Mistakes, Game Night, and Net Gain. There's also my In Our Hands, and dewelar has nominated Oddball's very pleasing Hugs For Everyone...

2) Speaking of dewelar, I think his 'Developments' epic has a great Shizune in it, but I will postpone it to the Christmas season because of its stellar ensemble cast, and the author has kindly consented to be co-chair for that period. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Meeting Resumes — [Shizune] (20151011)

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 09, 2015 1:22 am

Dear all,

It's my honour to introduce co-chair for the Shizune period, sg1cat. His 'After Graduation' is an interesting look at Hisao x Shizune, now at Chapter 24.

The list in the previous post constitutes our reading material as we discuss this most silent and polarising of all the KS girls.

A couple of additions to the list are as follows:
  1. Megumeru's The Haunting: A Love Story is a horror fic in which we're not sure about Shizune
  2. brythain's Shizune's Story, nominated because: "this is easily one of the most chilling, soulless incarnations of Shizune I've encountered" as one forum regular commented. (Needless to say, I don't agree, but YMMV... :( )
Some of you might want to continue the discussion on Misha with regard to Shizune. That's great too!
Please carry on. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by Blank Mage » Wed Oct 14, 2015 1:57 am

Man, not a lot of Shizune fans around. Well, now that I'm done taking care of real life issues, I can pay a little more attention to the Student Council. (I'm mostly putting this here so I hold myself accountable by this time tomorrow.) Anyone else who wants to chip in, feel free, eh?
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by brythain » Wed Oct 14, 2015 8:00 am

Blank Mage wrote:Man, not a lot of Shizune fans around. Well, now that I'm done taking care of real life issues, I can pay a little more attention to the Student Council. (I'm mostly putting this here so I hold myself accountable by this time tomorrow.) Anyone else who wants to chip in, feel free, eh?
As a writer, I like thinking about Shizune the most. There's a unique challenge in writing a character who can't speak, and whose thoughts need interpretation in the third person, or are difficult to handle in the first. I'm not deaf/mute so I have no idea how it affects a person; I myself would not be able to go about my usual business in my usual way if I had such a status: conceivably, I could have any of the other girls' disabilities and still do what I do.

My test of Shizune tales therefore is whether she has a unique personality that's congruent or coherent with what's presented in KS. Another, minor, test is that of whether I feel empathy and/or sympathy for the character thus presented.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by ProfAllister » Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:27 pm

brythain's Shizune's Story, nominated because: "this is easily one of the most chilling, soulless incarnations of Shizune I've encountered" as one forum regular commented. (Needless to say, I don't agree, but YMMV... :( )
Well, having been called out without being named, I guess I should come in to speak on my own behalf.

I qualified that statement by noting the lack of context I had coming in, and I haven't really remedied that, so I can't really say my opinion differs. As I said in that thread, she just strikes me as a shell of a person, collecting and controlling the lives of those who happened to fall into her web. And, tied into that, we have the pathetic figure of someone who can't move past her high school experience, kind of like the middle-aged manchild who never got over an abortive high school football career.

I'd be able to forgive all of that if the story seemed to find some sort of meaning or redemptive value there, but I didn't see any when I read. A second read might be more forgiving, but until then, I stand by my impression.

As with Misha, I've spilled lots of pixels discussing Shizune - probably more, especially if you don't count FWoaN.

A couple one-shot contributions I've had related to Shizune - one somewhat less serious and more Misha-focused, but I've a rather slim catalog to date:

A Very Student Council Christmas
Sharks and Minnows

Both also happen to be Christmas-themed. And, of course, FWoaN, as already noted, has significant Shizune (if less than some would like).

On the general subject of Shizune fics, I've previously noted that Shizune seems the most likely to die from pregnancy complications (now that's a unique "voted most likely" yearbook entry!). Another interesting detail is how people address her apparent duality (c.f. what was general considered the "best" act 1 Route, along with her "What the HELL is wrong with you?" expression). Most stories seem to focus on either "sweet" or "tart", "business" or "pleasure" - at best, it's a modality, in which she's all one way, then all the other. Which leads us to what I guess we can make a proposed discussion question of sorts:

Is Shizune modal, layered, blended, or a medley? In other words: sweet, then sour, business, then pleasure; sweet under sour, pleasure under business; sweet and sour, business and pleasure; or sweet business, sour pleasure, sweet pleasure, and several different variations thrown rapid-fire? Or, of course, none of the above.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by dewelar » Wed Oct 14, 2015 6:43 pm

The Shizune-Misha pairing comprises the two characters with which I struggle the most in my writing. Since I consider brythain our Resident ShizuBro in Chief, it is heartening to hear he considers my take to be "great". I can't say I found AtD!Shizune to be soulless so much as simply distant, which is an almost ubiquitous feeling for a deaf person. However, I do think that at times it drifted into her maintaining that distance intentionally, which is also quite appropriate for a Shizune who fell in love with, but never became a couple with, Hisao. It really does make for a rather morose take on the character, but having it then circle back to her relationship with Misha as it does makes some sense.

I made my feelings about Weekend at Hisao's known during that discussion, and its aborted sequel, Summer at the Sea, ranks as one of my great disappointments to date. So, let me move on to After Graduation. In the few months that sg1cat was posting fairly regular updates, it was one of my favorite stories on the board. It may not have seemed like it was going anywhere at times, but I didn't care, because I am a sucker for sweet slice-of-life stories, and it was definitely that. The interactions between the Three Musketeers are very believable and fun. However, I'm not as sold on what I guess you'd call its Act 2, where Hisao's parents enter the picture. It's still just getting rolling, but so far I'm not as invested as I was in the first 20 or so chapters.

Blank Mage's stuff is good, but I think Hanako is his star more than Shizune. The interactions between the two have been improving over time, and it's very interesting because it isn't a pairing you see too often. That in and of itself is weird, because I think the VN proper gives you a fair number of hints that the two would play well off of each other, and taking Hisao out of the picture altogether should actually move them closer, even if Hanako's lingering feelings are a catalyst for their friendship in these shorts.

Regarding the Misha discussion (since I missed it :oops:), For Want of a Nail is a conundrum for me. Whenever I try to read it, I'll be getting into the parts involving Misha and/or Shizune, and then I'll hear a needle scratch in my head whenever I get to a part where other characters come into the picture. Quite frankly, most of them are caricatures. I found both Rin and Emi so far OOC as to make them unrecognizable at times, and Lilly wasn't much better. I find the good Professor to be generally intelligent and insightful, but it appears she only has a good handle on certain characters.

Anyway, for my money the award for Best Misha goes to Hoitash, as I said in our discussion of United States of Misha. I'm not as keen on what he did with her in Road to Tokyo, but that's a reflection of my personal taste more than the quality of the writing.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by Numb » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:51 pm

I guess I'll poke my head in for the general Shizune discussion (I haven't read the listed fics recently enough to comment on them).

Shizune to me is a very interesting character, though not because of the characteristics directly displayed in the Katawa Shoujo canon. Shizune as a character can be summed up fairly easily: Shizune is a girl who grew up around an authoritative figure (Jigoro) and learned many of her mannerisms from him. She has also learned to be playful in a competitive manner, as she could likely only play games with rules that require no verbal communication (such as Risk, chess, etc.) and this shines through very frequently. While people can find this competitive playfulness quite sweet, there are others who find it very childish and annoying, which is to be expected, as being childish can be very a polarising characteristic. Personally, I liked it.

As for writing her effectively, addressing the duality is something that few have done effectively. I believe my previous works with Shizune as a character failed to find a balance between her business side and playful side, though I'd like to think I could do better now if I tried again. A good way to approach it, I think, is to ignore both the stoic business side and the playful side and focus on what both of those sides feature; a childish stubbornness. Shizune likes winning, plain and simple, and will change her strategy to make sure she does, even if it means bending some of the rules. This can be seen in quite a few places throughout the VN, but the biggest one is how she keeps Hisao away from other people so that she can claim him as her prize. The time the trio skipped class to stay at the Shanghai, the times that Shizune and Misha swarmed Hisao and pulled him away to a private room, the times she attempted to assert dominance over Emi, Lilly, and Rin by using her power as the student council president. All of these are efforts to isolate Hisao and almost induce Stockholm Syndrome if I were to go to extremes, but that is obviously too far fetched. It's much like how a child won't let anyone else play with their favourite toy, except here the toy is Hisao (take that as you will).

And because I didn't pop in for the Misha month, I guess I'll say my piece about her. When people write Misha, they're making a choice whether or not they write her as she appears in every route but Shizune's. There are two Mishas that you can write, one has drills and the other has short hair. The Misha with drills is happy-go-lucky and hides beneath a mask after Shizune rejected her, but here's the problem. If you aren't writing short-haired Misha, you can't really explore that unless you write from Misha's point of view, and at that point I'm at a loss. Honestly, there's not much to go on for drill-Misha because she's a side character, she serves as an airheaded voice for Shizune who occasionally offers advice in other routes, but she has no real personality until you start cutting coils off. Once you have the short-haired Misha, whose issues with Shizune's rejection are being brought to the surface by an external catalyst, you have a more interesting and diverse tool to work with.

Misha only truly becomes a real character when Hisao and Shizune are bonding, because she sees that the person she loves is being pulled away from her. If Hisao and Shizune don't start bonding, nobody is taking Shizune away from her, so nothing really changes. Maybe once the end of the year approaches and the idea of not seeing her anymore sinks in, you'd get short-haired Misha content, but with no foreign element there is nothing to cause a negative reaction unless you create a significant enough conflict between the pair. I'm not an authority on Misha by any means, I haven't explored her character enough to give a strong analysis, but these are my opinions on her for the time being. She's fun, but mostly insignificant.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by brythain » Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:17 am

I think of Shizune as primarily responsible, which I mean in the old etymological sense—that is, answerable in any context for which questions might be asked, whether those are questions of her leadership (or fitness to lead), of her decisions, of her personal life, or of her family. That she is unable to hear or speak makes this difficult, since you have to hear and understand a question (implicit or explicit) in order to provide an answer.

Her relationship with Hisao is problematic because Hisao doesn't ask all the right questions. In the end, she has to resort to making him ask them, or to the assumption that he has asked them. This is why she never defends her father; the responsibility for his actions is not hers, but his. She just ignores him, more or less.

In After The Dream, a mosaic for which the primary editors are said to be Hanako Ikezawa, Natsume Ooe, and Rika Katayama, the main problem for them is to get into Shizune's skull. Shizune is uncommunicative with regard to these three, generally, and it's only by listening to others that they get a sense of who their acquaintance really is. Hanako ends up more sympathetic than the others simply because she has an inside track in several respects. That's why her eulogy for Shizune is the way it is; Shizune taught her how to be responsible, and Hanako repays that by presenting an apologia for Shizune's life.

This is also why Shizune in Shizune's arc is so inaccessible — her motives are censored, her thoughts are terse, she hides a lot of stuff from her interlocutors, especially the editors of AtD. She has no responsibility to them for her own actions, and being responsible to herself is an odd thing to think about. However, in her more personal recollections, she lets out quite a bit more. One suspects that those were edited by her long-time friend, Misha, to whom she did indeed feel some responsibility.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by Blank Mage » Thu Oct 15, 2015 3:36 am

I remember a discussion Puncyclopedia and I had once, comparing our reasons for liking Shizune more than most, and came up with some interesting conclusions. (I wonder what happened to that guy...?) We agreed, for example, that Shizune is in many ways the kindest of the five characters, as she's the most accepting of Hisao throughout her story. I'll just copy-paste what I wrote then...
Shizune might not have been my favorite character initially, because I don't like jerks, and Act 1 Shizune is pushy to the point of being obnoxious. It's only on the way to her route that we see the justification, something Puncyclopedia brought up; Shizune is, in some ways, the most caring of the girls. It translates badly, because Shizune doesn't understand how emotions work, how to help people work through problems she doesn't have, and even then, she can only solve problems through action. She also works on logic that doesn't always apply, but between that or nothing, Shizune chooses to do what she can. It's that duality, that moment when Shizune stops being herself and quietly admits that she doesn't know what to do, that makes her my favorite character. It puts her whole character into perspective. Emi might be scared of commitment, Lilly and Hanako might not trust people, Rin doesn't understand anyone, but Shizune is just scared that she's unlovable in the long term, and of all the girls, she does her damnedest to overcome that fear, and everyone else just quietly waits until Hisao fixes them.

It's how she deals with that that adds another tragic layer to her story, though. She tries to compensate for her perceived failures by helping people in a macroscopic sense. If she can rope two people into more work to make the festival better for two hundred people, isn't that okay? It doesn't matter if she's hated, or mocked, or avoided, Shizune stoically accepts these consequences in an attempt to make everyone happy. It's all she knows how to do. And I think that over the course of her route, she begins to question herself, whether or not the big picture is really worth hurting people close to her, but since she doesn't understand them, she can only leave them alone and hope they don't leave her.

In a way, that makes her the most tragic of all of the characters, and her bad end drives that point home like a knife. You leave her thinking that she failed everyone, that she might never be capable of sustaining a positive relationship with anyone, that her personality is just toxic. And no one knows her well enough to tell her she's wrong. God, I love tragic characters.
I actually suggested Bry keep his own Shizune in the running for this discussion, because she sits at one end of the spectrum in a range of possible interpretations. It's entirely possible that Shizune's calculating attitude and logical analysis of emotional topics would lead to that kind of ruthless manipulation. It's cold and almost sinister, but Bry's Shizune is just taking what she believes is the best course to make the greatest impact. She's not even particularly self-serving or greedy. It made me wonder; what's better? An emotionless procedure to ensure the maximum amount of good, or a sympathetic and well-meaning plan that might ultimately fail? Both have merits, and it could be argued that sentiment without love is pointless. It certainly feels as though AtD!Shizune is just forcing her goodwill and charity on an unwilling subject, but I genuinely felt for her, that this was the only means left to a woman who never knew how to be lovable. Also, Brythain, your stories are so bleak.

More on individual stories later...
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by brythain » Sat Oct 17, 2015 1:10 pm

Blank Mage wrote:I actually suggested Bry keep his own Shizune in the running for this discussion, because she sits at one end of the spectrum in a range of possible interpretations. It's entirely possible that Shizune's calculating attitude and logical analysis of emotional topics would lead to that kind of ruthless manipulation. It's cold and almost sinister, but Bry's Shizune is just taking what she believes is the best course to make the greatest impact. She's not even particularly self-serving or greedy. It made me wonder; what's better? An emotionless procedure to ensure the maximum amount of good, or a sympathetic and well-meaning plan that might ultimately fail? Both have merits, and it could be argued that sentiment without love is pointless. It certainly feels as though AtD!Shizune is just forcing her goodwill and charity on an unwilling subject, but I genuinely felt for her, that this was the only means left to a woman who never knew how to be lovable. Also, Brythain, your stories are so bleak.
This is possibly going to shock some of you, or perhaps not. It might amuse some of you instead. :)

When I first sketched out the idea that would become 'After The Dream', it was based on the emotional conflict I personally felt when I completed Katawa Shoujo AND my third or fourth re-reading of Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' series. In particular, the recurring image in my head was this: someone had died, and all those around him saw it a different way. That's why I titled my very first piece on these forums 'The Wake' (it's in the last part of the AtD main index's first post). Loosely then, the image in my mind mapped Hisao Nakai and the six main female characters of KS into the seven Endless, archetypes according to Gaiman.

Hisao, of course, was Dream — the one who had just passed on. From the beginning, I knew Rin was Delirium, who was once Delight; Emi was Death, because her whole life revolved around it; Lilly was Destruction, who left the family early and tried to disappear, and whose leaving in part precipitated all that followed. The funny thing was that while I knew Misha and Shizune had therefore to be Desire and Despair, I wasn't sure which was which. And then, because to follow the mapping too slavishly would have made it just plain silly, I shuffled things around a bit.

Coming at the story another way, Shizune had to be the opposite of Lilly—whereas Lilly's story is told by Hanako once and then told again by Lilly herself, Shizune deliberately says little. She doesn't defend herself against a reader who thinks poorly of her: true to her nature, she appears not to care about that. She just continues to do what she thinks is right. Lilly, on the other hand, tells her own story a second time because she has the horrible fear that she did the wrong thing and has never set things right. Shizune leaves us with an enigmatic smile, having done what she can; Lilly leaves us while still not knowing if she's done enough.

So Shizune is perhaps the central character of AtD. She is the agent who keeps things together; the story dances around her even if it doesn't quite revolve around her, and if you somehow manage to survive all the different strands of my story, you'll see how the way the others relate to her tells us her REAL story, not the terse, functional, soulless narrative she allows us to see at first. She, more so than any of the others, has agency—whether or not we see it explicitly as such.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

ProfAllister
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by ProfAllister » Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:53 am

brythain wrote: This is possibly going to shock some of you, or perhaps not. It might amuse some of you instead. :)
(Stuff)
Well, that actually gives me significantly more incentive to push the series up my "to read" list. Sounds like an interesting approach, at least.
dewelar wrote:Regarding the Misha discussion (since I missed it :oops:), For Want of a Nail is a conundrum for me. Whenever I try to read it, I'll be getting into the parts involving Misha and/or Shizune, and then I'll hear a needle scratch in my head whenever I get to a part where other characters come into the picture. Quite frankly, most of them are caricatures. I found both Rin and Emi so far OOC as to make them unrecognizable at times, and Lilly wasn't much better. I find the good Professor to be generally intelligent and insightful, but it appears she only has a good handle on certain characters.
I'm not terribly certain how to respond to this. On the one hand, I will readily concede that I've spent more thought on Shizune and Misha than the other girls; on the other, I don't feel it would be spoiling much to note that, to some extent, they're supposed to be caricatures.Take into account the canon routes - you don't get terribly much of a picture of the other girls, and it's mostly the obvious and superficial traits. The less you know of someone, the more likely you are to categorize and caricature them. That's not to say that this natural tendency is an excuse to do whatever you want with characters; I was under the impression that, insofar I was making caricatures of characters, they were, for lack of a better term, "accurate" caricatures. Either way, I'd certainly appreciate continued/more detailed feedback on that concern (by PM or in the thread itself would be ideal, methinks).

I can't say I agree with Numb's interpretation of Shizune. I think I'd be inclined to say she has a sort of single-mindedness to her. She doesn't so much do things as she becomes them. When she does something, every fiber of her being goes into it. She considers it the greatest sin to do anything less than your full potential - if you're not going to do your very best, it's a selfish waste of other people's time. But tied into that, everything in her life is a discrete moment - if you're truly going in one direction 100%, there's no time to think of the future or long-term goals.

Mercurial creature that she is, I maintain that you should pull a page from Mutou's book in Emi's route, as a quantum-physics relationship counselor, and learn about Shizune not from the little you can tell from direct observation or interrogation, but from the response of those she interacts with. With Jigoro, it is instructive that they only really have one direct interaction onscreen, and it is not so much the interaction as the aftermath that we witness. And it is the closest Jigoro ever comes to defeat (perhaps tied to the scene where he talks about his relationship with Shizune). The one time we ever see any true fire from Hideaki is when he talks about surpassing his sister. The conflict between Lilly and Shizune is that Lilly feels Shizune gets too caught up in the concept of doing good for "people" that she ignores the actual people she tramples on the way. And then, there's Misha.

I'll hold off on discussing Misha for the moment - she's a cipher enough, without trying to unravel her interactions with Shizune. There's a lot going on there, but I don't want to wander too far off track from discussing Shizune fics. Similarly, I'll hold off on addressing Numb's interpretation of Misha, for the moment.

I will take one thing form Numb's comment on Misha, but argue that it's perhaps more appropriate in regard to Shizune - it is very difficult to explore Shizune unless you're looking from inside her head. And, offhand, the only fics I've seen explicitly do that are brythain's, which we are discussing so thoroughly, and Goldilurks's decidedly different interpretation.

And, of course, there's one final pivotal figure in her life, often notices, rarely addressed - her mother. You can tell a lot from an interpretation by whether she's remembered or forgotten, alive or dead, estranged or merely elided.
Current Project: Misha Pseudo-Route

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Leaty
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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumes — [Shizune])

Post by Leaty » Sun Oct 18, 2015 10:31 pm

You know, I'd like to think I'm a pretty solid writer, but one thing I notice a lot is that I'm not really well-known for sublime takes on any character I didn't flesh out myself. Like it's easy enough for me to say that Forgetmenot's Rin and Hisao are top-tier, as are Dewelar's Emi and Rin, Blank's Shizune and Hanako, Helbereth's Shizune and Misha, Bry's Kenji and Lilly, and so on, but I almost feel weird talking about my interpretations of those characters because I feel like they're all considerably more utilitarian than those of the writers who center more directly upon them than I do.

Like—Shizune, for me, is a character I almost got entirely wrong. I was one of those people who got really enthusiastic about the Act One release of Katawa Shoujo back in the day; all the way back in 2009, I wrote a couple pages of a Miki route that I'm very glad I never finished. But the thing is, I was, well, younger back then, and a considerably shittier woman in about a million ways, and in those early days when I would play through Act One, I mostly just wanted Shizune to get the fuck out of my my face. I was struggling in my own career, and intimidated by people with Type-A personalities, and when the full VN was released and I actually played through the route, I just kind of thought it was meandering and pointless. And that's why, as I alluded in the Authors' Notes I wrote about her first scene in Mean Time to Breakdown, Shizune started off in a very adversarial position—I genuinely did not like her. My take on her wasn't especially fair.

It was Tomorrow's Doom that first began to make me feel differently about Shizune, and I think the reason for it was that in that story she gets dragged into becoming sort of a social butterfly—we actually get to see her interact with people she hasn't stratified into "friends" and "enemies". I think this is one of the things that made her route so frustrating initially, this tendency in the VN for her to only be around people about whom it appears she feels either very positively (Hisao, Misha, Akira and Hanako to lesser degrees) or negatively (Jigoro, Lilly, Hideaki, Emi and Rin to an extent). Like, it's tiresome. Or, at least, it was for me. I, as the reader projecting myself into a (probably troublingly effeminate) Hisao, just didn't have the patience to deal with Shizune's drama. What I wanted was sloppy makeouts, not getting shouted at by her dad. So, yeah... I think Shizune (and in fact, all the characters bar maybe Emi) just work better in scenarios where things are less polarized.

One of the reasons I've been so crazy-fond of Developments (besides the fact that it's fantastic) is that it finished the adjustment of my outlook that TD started. Dewelar's take on her and her family was what made everything click perfectly into place for me—it tilted all my character preferences quite dramatically. (It probably helps that I like damn near anything with queer women. Go figure.) Since reading Developments, Shizune's route in the VN has felt so much more nuanced and three-dimensional for me, and while part of that is probably just me getting older, I wouldn't like it nearly as much without that broader perspective.

Like, to put it bluntly, in scenarios/fanfics where I'm compelled to envision a Shizune who had a different relationship with her mother than the one Dewelar devised, I just can't enjoy her nearly as much. Mayoi was the thread that tied everything together for me. That's not to say that I need his headcanon to be 100% viable in order to enjoy a Shizune story, but it really helps if I can think of the character in his context. Her family situation in Developments is just so damn real—and, at times, heartbreaking—that everything else just feels off-brand now. If it wasn't such a spoiler I would have recommended Shizune's chapter from Developments for this discussion, because it's one of the best from that story and one of my favorite moments in KS fanfiction. It's just that good.

Anyway, the point is that if it weren't for Dewelar and Helbereth's take on Shizune, the animosity she shared with Iwanako in MTtB wouldn't have abated, and the story just... wouldn't be as good.

So, if I don't think my early treatment of Shizune was fair, why didn't I change the chapters where we see it? Well, my take on Shizune was underinformed—which actually lends those scenes a sense of authenticity I don't know if I could replicate intentionally, because Iwanako's knowledge about her is similarly underinformed. Like, I don't think any of Shizune's behavior in MTtB was out of character or unreasonable, but it was exactly the kind of behavior that would make Iwanako think she was a total asshole—so she does! It worked out fantastically.

The early, superficial conflict between Iwanako and Shizune was, I think, founded in the different ways that both of them exemplify the "troubled rich girl" archetype. Both of them come from similar privilege, but the way in which both of them present it is wildly different; I mean, as a visual representation, Shizune's the kind of girl who lives in a house like this and Iwanako's the kind of girl who lives in a house like this. This is very much a style versus substance conflict—Iwanako walks into the classroom and Shizune sees how extravagantly she's dressed, how much time she's put into her hair, she smells her expensive perfume. Then they're given an assignment and while Shizune's all pedal-to-the-metal, Iwanako immediately starts goldbricking. It's a recipe for animosity.

I don't think that class-related issues are core to the pathos of either character. But this isn't a feud that was rooted deeply in pathos, anyway. This is about their identities being challenged. Shizune perceives Iwanako as being spoiled, shallow and indolent; the latter views the former as self-involved, heartless, and obsessive. Both subconsciously feel like the other undermines them just by existing—that they cast the wealth they were both born into in a bad light. Their relationship quickly devolves into passive-aggressiveness, with Misha lacking even more context than usual (and feeling conflicted, for reasons).

Is all of this silly and unfair? Abso-fucking-lutely, which is why the whole conflict breaks down after Báthory—this wasn't an animosity that was as deep and meaningful as other conflicts in the setting. As a enemy, Iwanako was small potatoes compared to say, Lilly. And as soon as emerald death struck (heh), both belligerents realized in short order how stupid their disagreement was. In the greater scope of Mean Time to Breakdown, you could say that the Iwanako/Shizune problem was a red herring.

Anyway, I have more to say (I want a chance to complain about Weekend At Hisao's Image), but we'll leave it at that for now.

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