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Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumed: July—Iwanako)

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:06 pm
by Leaty
This thread is making me so happy. It's been a godawful summer and I really needed something like this.

Also, I guess this would be a good time to announce that I'm 3500 words into the next chapter. Mean Time to Breakdown has been brought to you this month by Ritalin™.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumed: July—Iwanako)

Posted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:42 pm
by brythain
More views of Mons Sebastes iwanako

Scene Eleven:

Back in hospital
People not so helpful
Rock girl hits bottom

Scene Twelve:

Self-loathing count(l)ess
Emi click click trigger bang
Oops finds new bottom

Scene Thirteen:

Rising to surface
If rock-girl won't find tea-room
Tea-room finds rock-girl

Scene Fourteen:

Space girl senator
Yet lost between translations
Unusual driver

Scene Fifteen:

Nurse hypodermic
Truth lies unexamined reflex
Free self not self free

Meeting Notice for August (Reading List)

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 1:16 am
by brythain
There's time for remaining commentary on Mean Time to Breakdown, and I thank Leaty very much indeed for being part of this thread. Things I'm really grateful for include the availability of an interesting opus and an interesting author, and the likelihood of more to come. :)

For the first ten days or so of August, we'll be looking at the first Yamaku character whom Hisao encounters, the enigmatic and sometimes sub-coherent 3-3 class teacher, Akio Mutou.

My criteria for picking Mutou pieces were that they should have him as a central character, and that they should be complete. Some interesting works were only part-complete, and some of them were crossover fics or experimental pieces with Mutou in a Fight Club (see below) or as a Time Lord, or something else. Such works can be read on their own for pleasure. However, exploring Akio Mutou as a Katawa Shoujo developed (or at least substantial, non-joke) character is a different thing, and it leaves us with surprisingly few options on the board. I've attempted to pick a balanced selection from what's been suggested.

So without further ado, here are the nominations for August readings on Mr Akio Mutou:

Why he lights up the night by Lux (20 Jun 2012)
MishMutou by themocaw (03 Aug 2012)
A Different Future by fardels (17 Aug 2012)
Pavane by brythain (24 Aug 2014)

It's interesting to note that three of these pieces were written in Augusts past. Perhaps it is indeed Mutou's month.
Let's aim for discussion around 9-10 August 2015?
If anyone can find more readings to suggest, I'd be glad to fit them in!

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumed: July—Iwanako)

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:46 am
by Blank Mage
Alright, the end of the month is upon us, and thus, it's about time I finale'd (holy shit, spellcheck isn't calling me on that travesty) MTtB and fanboyed out proper. A lot of this might end up being a repeat of my previous comments. Actually, this is shaping up to be one of the most thrown together reviews I've ever done. It's, ah, going to get a bit messy down there. Possibly repetitious. You've been warned. So, everyone ready? Buckled in? Got your Dr. Pepper to your left of your chair, with a recycling bin to the right? I do. It's practical, damn it.


Rereading this fic, I remember what makes it all so engaging: Iwanako is not perfect. I mean, that much seems obvious, no one is, but so often everyone is so perfectly imperfect that it's annoying. Sure, Hisao isn't perfect, but honestly? His major failings are pretty lightweight. His angst is 'meh'. Emi is certainly a bit broken, but she perseveres and overcomes and becomes a picturesquely better person for it. Her faults are both understandable and ultimately reversible. No matter the route, love conquers all, disabilities are only secondary or even tertiary to the stories truly being told. It's all very heartwarming and touching and such. It's the same in all the routes, really, and even the fan fics tend to mirror this notion. Take, and I'm just pulling something at random, Freaks and Friends. (Don't mean to put you on the spot, Oddball.) Hitomi is bitter, yes, confused, absolutely, but she's got a good sense of humor and enough flexibility to deal with even the most bizarre circumstances with hesitant acceptance. She builds her new identity quickly and efficiently. She's, to paraphrase a famous sitcom, gonna make it after all. She's an interesting character, and a rounded one, and she seems custom built to fill Yamaku's roster.

Iwanako is none of these things.

Here, we have a character who is building an identity that scares her, one who can't conform and can't understand how others can, one tossed about by the events of her life like a ship in a storm. Every day isn't a heartwarming tale of making friends and understanding human nature, it is a goddamn fight for survival, beset by an antagonistic student council, reckless track star runners, enigmatic strangers and negligent family. Iwanako is a girl who doesn't fit the story, a concept that Leaty knowingly writes into MTtB to incredible effect. (Did I say fanboying? I friggin meant it.) Doctors aren't always funny and likable. Teachers aren't always insightful and wise. Classmates aren't always friendly and reliable. People are strange, when you're a stranger, etc.

The result is realism. Possibly the most realistic Yamaku on the forums, because she doesn't delve into the Dues Angst Machina that plague the dark-fics and death-fics, either. The events of MTtB are things that happen to all of us. Who here hasn't dealt with feelings of depression and worthlessness? Or complicated and hurtful familial interactions? Or annoyance at the jerks who just make your day difficult? Do you feel like a better person for having overcome it? Sort of, right? Like a little. Maybe. Because your life isn't a plot arc, these things aren't foreshadowing some divine 'Act 2, Scene 4' of your life. Iwanako just does the best she can, and often, it doesn't seem like a lot, and at the end of the day, it might not even be particularly significant to the plot. And this realism extends to her actions, as well. She isn't so accepting of strong-willed Shizune. She isn't so sure of her actions around nervous Hanako. She feels incompetent and apologetic around perfect Lilly. Her reactions aren't ideal, and she isn't always the person she wants to be, because really, none of us are.

This is the main thrust of the entire fic, I feel. Iwanako isn't always understanding, she isn't always listening like she should, she has a hard time changing, because that's life. We all have a snide voice in our head that swears at the cop who pulls us over, the person chatting at the register while your groceries get warm, the coworker who takes a break at the busiest time of the day, every day. It's not something we talk about, but it's there, and seeing Iwanako call these people out is so much more honest and intriguing then the cheerful and non-threatening way Yamaku is typically portrayed.

But enough generalizations! Time for some fine detailing! (You thought we were wrapping up? You poor, deluded fool.)

I love how Iwanako manages to befriend Hanako, not only because I like Hanako almost as much as Shizune, but because the parallels Leaty draws between the two are great for both. (I love it when characters bond over shared experiences.) To see the Tea Room Duo come so readily to her aid is just adorable, because it's just so altruistic and artlessly thoughtful of Hanako to help someone who needs it, and at Iwanako's lowest point, at that. I also like how plot points are unfolding in the background, things like Misha and Shizune's separate actions, Molly's odd behavior, events never brought into focus, existing just on the peripheral of the narrative, because again, that's how reality works most of the time; the answers aren't always obvious.

AHAHAHAHAAAAAA THIS CHAPTER. This chapter. This chapter was the reason I even signed on to the damn forums! That's right, you can all blame Leaty for that one. This chapter perfectly summarizes my whole point. If this were any other character, in any other story, this kind of behavior would be a Bad End, a Misstep. It's the kind of reaction that's just hurtful, a visceral tirade whose only purpose is to inflict furious vengeance on Emi. And you know what? It's the best chapter. It's something we all know about, it's like the lowest common denominator of human nature, but something that we learn to suppress, and never something that we would expect from the protagonist of a story like this one. It's like that scene from Fight Club, where Ed Norton just breaks Angel's face because he 'felt like destroying something beautiful'. It marks such a huge deviation from the character we had at the beginning of the story, a culmination of everything that's happened before it. It's the basest form of self-validation possible, and the ugliest. It's cathartic, and shocking, and brutal, and tragic, because this is what happens when you back someone into an emotional corner.

And everything leading up to the explosion is so perfectly written as well, that build of pressure, the determination not to snap at someone you just want dead. I've been there. Yes, I've had a Bathory of my own, something I didn't think I was capable of. For that one fleeting moment, I made my older sister cry and it felt incredible, because she deserved it, and my points were unassailable, eloquent and utterly devastating. I destroyed her, really, and it was only later that I learned that I almost drove her to suicide as a result. Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can fucking kill you. So yes, I understand Iwanako here, that line you cross, the moral event horizon, and I know how it feels when the consequences come around. It's something no other fan fic on this board has managed to emulate, and it stands as my single favorite moment in KS fiction, bar none. This chapter sets Iwanako apart as more then just a familiar name in a familiar setting; she's a human being, a deeply flawed and relatable person, and while MTtB isn't doing her any favors, it'll make her victory all the more thrilling, and her setbacks all the more heartbreaking.


Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Resumed: July—Iwanako)

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:03 pm
by Fardels
For Silentcook: Yep, not only that, but they talk back. The bigger issue is when I use somebody else's characters, like I do with KS, for example. When they talk back, sometimes they lie. Putting it another way, I haven't really figured them out enough to use them well. With this particular review, I shamelessly stole about half of Holden's part from Salinger, because not only do I not understand Holden, but I'm not sure that I want to. Lifting portions of the original is the best way to get it done. So it's not really that meta. Blank Mage had the idea of going quantum, but he handled it better than I could.

Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:15 pm
by brythain
Greetings to fellow KS aficionados, and welcome to August!

I gather the consensus about Leaty's Iwanako so far is that the Iwanako of Mean Time to Breakdown is psychologically a very realistic character. Leaty's hinted several times that the realism comes from her own experiences of life and humanity, and she's put that to good use, crafting an alternate vision that appeals to us even as it shocks and saddens us at some moments along that journey. It's created a kind of gold standard for Iwanako-design, and indeed for sheer intensity of psychodrama.

Discussion on the last few chapters should probably continue, but I suspect we're about to be surprised and delighted even further, sooner than we think.

Meanwhile, in the next one and a half weeks or so, please join me as we take a look at the surprisingly scarce literature on Mr Akio Mutou, the lead 'teacher' character in Katawa Shoujo—and the first human encounter Hisao has when entering Yamaku. Further introductory comments on this August selection can be found [here]. Do join in as and when you feel like it.

After 10 August, we'll switch back to other main characters, and the next up is probably Hanako Ikezawa. There's a lot about her, and if anyone comes up with clever suggestions we've not discussed here before, that'd be great!

All the best to all of you! Have a wonderful August.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:15 am
by brythain
Back into the Matrix of Mount Aoba... Iwanako by Leaty

Scene Sixteen:

Conversation drifts
Absolute paint fantasy
Bohemian terror

Scene Seventeen:

Cosmetic ambush
Relationships ambivalent
Tangled web woven

Scene Eighteen:

Strange behaviours
Two ghosts mutually afraid
Binary resolved

Scene Nineteen:

Further developments
Crafty linkage not unseen
Cannot be untrue

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:32 pm
by Leaty
brythain wrote:Scene Nineteen:

Further developments
Crafty linkage not unseen
Cannot be untrue
Scene Nineteen was Bantamweights.

...Just kidding. Bantamweights is more like "Scene Two-Alpha." (Which I guess makes "Out Cold" Scene 1α, and Chapter 60 of Developments Scene 60α...)

I'm hoping to release the real Scene 19 by the end of the summer, but the other thing took precedence for obvious reasons.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:29 am
by brythain
Leaty wrote:Scene Nineteen was Bantamweights.

...Just kidding. Bantamweights is more like "Scene Two-Alpha." (Which I guess makes "Out Cold" Scene 1α, and Chapter 60 of Developments Scene 60α...)

I'm hoping to release the real Scene 19 by the end of the summer, but the other thing took precedence for obvious reasons.
Y'know something? I had this morbid thought when I woke up this morning. I was somehow thinking of you and Iwanako. Then I realised I'd really miss your comments and writing if you suddenly stopped. I'd be missing you, whom I've never met (that I know of). What a thought! It's been a great month in this thread, thanks to you.

Mutou: First Sensei

Posted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:38 am
by brythain
In the wake of Hiroshima Day, I found myself reading a little bit more widely. David Pilling once interviewed Donald Keene, the US scholar who became Japanese. In that interview, Keene spoke on Japanese literature:
“I suppose every kind of poetry has its overtones, things that are not spoken. But this is especially true of Japanese,” he says. “The most important statement in the English language is ‘I love you.’ You translate that into Japanese, there’s no ‘I’ and there’s no ‘you.’ ”
When I look through every Mutou scene, there's this sense of longing and alienation. Mutou is a mirror of Hisao — Hisao as he might someday be, or not at all. Mutou is Hisao's mentor, a wise but scatter-brained sage.

Discussion is open from Sunday 09 August, or earlier, if you wish. Of course, discussion on MTtB is not closed — far from it, and possibly never. :)

Link to Mutou reading list posted earlier is here.

Suggestions for upcoming Hanako blockbuster session also welcome. Sisterhood and Reconciliation, anyone?

Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Reminder)

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 4:18 am
by brythain
Just a reminder about the next in sequence: Hanako Ikezawa.

If all that needs to be said about Mutou-sensei has already been said, do PM me suggestions for Hanako's segment, lasting from end-August through September! :)

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Reminder)

Posted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:59 am
by Blank Mage
brythain wrote:Just a reminder about the next in sequence: Hanako Ikezawa.

If all that needs to be said about Mutou-sensei has already been said, do PM me suggestions for Hanako's segment, lasting from end-August through September! :)
Actually, my default plan was to post biweekly. I'll comment in juuuuust a bit.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:27 am
by Blank Mage
Yeesh, and I'm already behind. I've been procrastinating about procrastinating. God help me.

Light Up the Night
So... Fight Club is a thing. Okay, whatever, I can almost kind of see Mutou as played by Edward Norton. Like, actually, that's pretty good casting. But anyway, I just straight up don't like this piece for a number of reasons. The idea of an earlier, more rash Mutou going through a violent, alcoholic phase is an interesting concept, but when I realized that this is present day Mutou, it ruined things a bit. The Mutou we see in the VN is almost relaxed and wise to a fault, not someone prone to flying off the handle or wallowing in self-pity. (I mean, dude works at Yamaku. You'd think he'd be a little more sensitive to putting youths in hospitals.) I was expecting to see him come to terms with his anger, work it into something constructive, and use that experience to better identify with his uniquely morose student body. Instead, it's capped off in no time flat with no resolution and a moral I can't really get behind. As for the religion aspect, I couldn't get behind that either. Religion didn't kill his wife; she wanted to keep the child. She knew the risks. It's hardly unreasonable for a mother to take that stance, particularly when a child is the result of a loving relationship. (Also, I dislike abortion, speaking as the accidental product of my Mom's dysfunctional and short-lived relationship with a complete loser.)

Oh ho, another one of yours, eh? I'll see if I can make sense of this one. (I need to just buckle down and make a timeline/character relation chart for AtD.)

Agh! Quality whiplash! Poignant metaphors outta nowhere! And here's the more traditional Mutou; a grey and drab person of little interest, save for his interactions with the colorful cast of Yamaku. I've always liked your ability to flood your stories with characters and minor details, both the overwhelming complexity and odd simplicity with which life so often unfolds. I'm not just being artsy when I say that - I don't profess to fully comprehend all of the social dynamics you're alluding to in this story, but at the same time, the story is anchored with little observations and constants, the kind of things you typically don't even note having noted. And as always, your unique style, your relentless, unflinching, clinical delivery, give your story their trademark immersion. Also, I'll never be happy again. But right, the story. (I've had a lot of praise for people this month, haven't I? Maybe I should try to be more critical? ...Nah, can't see that happening.)

Wait, Mutou is Lilly's uncle? But... if he's... divorced from the sister... of Jigoro's... ex-wife... then Lilly's father...? I'm so very confused. (That's why you need the chart, Blank. I keep telling you.) But looking past that! I like the Mutou-Miyagi dynamic here, because it's so sensibly built over the course of the story. It's a very natural progression, and a simple one. (I wouldn't mind a few Miyagi stories from you, I'm sure you have some stashed SOMEWHERE in the threads.) But reading through it, I'm having a bit of trouble, because this isn't a story about Mutou. This is a story about AtD in general, from Mutou's perspective, and if I had to level a criticism, it's the fact that this story is dominated for the Hakamichis and the Satous, and I've always tried to keep in mind that Mutou (and indeed all Yamaku staff) deal with dozens of students, not just our main cast. I dislike (slightly) how no mention is made of, say, Suzu, or Miki, or Taro, or a hundred other characters who should technically have every bit as much pull as their more esteemed counterparts. It all seems a little too... convenient.

This problem lessens towards the end, though, when the story comes back around a bit. The backstory you provide integrates wonderfully with how Mutou looks and acts, and you never shy away from writing these issues with painful clarity. In that time, you really manage to illustrate how Mutou has found some new purpose, new drive. Although he's still a very grey and drab character, he's at least pursuing his own goals by then, and we can see how his interactions with others have shaped him. Essentially, you did an excellent job developing a character whose defining characteristic was a lack of character. But then again, characters over the long haul is kind of your forte, isn't it?

*Next two to follow, oh God the sun is rising and I'm still awake.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:25 pm
by Oddball
I didn't get the whole Mutou fight club thing either. It just really didn't feel like the character to me.

Re: Yamaku Book Club (Meeting Update: August—Mutou)

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:07 pm
by Oscar Wildecat
I've been a remiss in my posting duties lately. *sigh*

Anyway, I wanted to mention that if we're talking about Mutou characterization, I have to throw the deadpan proposal scene from After the Dream. That bit of writing has cemented brythain's Mutou (as well as Mutou x Rika -- in spite of the age difference) as headcanon.

From the reading list, I'm most familiar with "MishMutou". I thought that story was good. Too melancholy to really enjoy, but still good.