Images courtesy of http://ohtori.nu/
Juri, an orange-haired woman on the Student Council, notices how Miki's confidence is higher during their fencing practices but tells him that his sword is not for battle, implying that his nature is not one suited to violence. It becomes obvious that Miki is attracted to Anthy's innocence, comparing her to the figure in the garden of his memories.
We learn that the song he's always playing, 'The Sunlit Garden', is a song he and his sister co-wrote when they were young. They were always playing together and considered young prodigies. Miki convinces his sister to attend a big concert with him where they will showcase their talents, promising to be there with her. The night of the concert he has to stay home with the measles and their parents make his sister go alone. She runs off the stage and never plays the piano again. Miki still carries the guilt of causing her to abandon music and is trying to regain the feeling of contentment and love he shared with his sister in that garden.
Utena supports a relationship between Miki and Anthy and cannot understand Anthy's insistence that, since she is Utena's bride, she cannot be with him. Miki proposes dissolution of the Student Council so that Anthy is free to make her own choices. Touga states that it's his youth talking and that the world doesn't work that way - that sometimes things have to be smashed (AKA people conquered) for true freedom.
After this meeting, Miki encounters his sister leaving the music room where she has been making out with Touga. The relationship between these siblings is now very cold, although they both profess to still care about each other. It's obvious that Touga is using Miki's sister to upset him. He tells the boy that if you don't 'protect what you love people will take them away from you', convincing Miki that the only way to ensure Anthy's happiness is to make her his bride. Although Miki sees this as helping Anthy, there's no doubt that his ultimate motive is a selfish one to retain the feeling of 'his shining thing'.
He encounters Anthy playing the piano and she emphasizes that she will only play the piano if Utena lets her. Here is another glimpse that perhaps Anthy is part of the manipulation of duelists. This is the final prod that inspires Miki to challenge Utena. Initially confident in his purpose, Miki manages to hold his own against Utena, drawing in for the final blow. Anthy's cry of support for Utena breaks his sense of purpose which causes him to lose. Despite the loss, he is determined to remain in the competition to preserve his 'shining thing'. The episode ends with Miki's sister talking to one of her friends, admitting that she never played the piano well, it was simply her brother's exceptional talent that lead others to believe so.
Herein is our first look into the psychological underpinnings of a member of the Student Council and why they compete for the Rose Bride. Although each member speaks of 'bringing the world revolution', it is becoming clear that the goal each seeks is entirely personal. It is also apparent that they are being led astray since the goals each strike for are achievable only by themselves, not by outside forces. This depth is what kept me watching the show and I recall now that there is much more intensity to come.
Images courtesy of http://ohtori.nu/
I'm learning a lot while writing my collaboration with leogrl19. One of the most fascinating elements is the tension between a character's choices and my own as an author. Even describing this experience is a challenge in itself. When you write a story solo, the time you spend is your own and you are working exclusively with yourself. As I've previously mentioned, this simplifies the process since I (in conjunction with the characters I create) determine how the story unfolds.
Writing a collaboration is like interacting in real life. You never know for sure how the other author's character is going to react or what move they're going to make. This uncertainty prevents in-depth planning and makes the narrative feel alive, something uncontrollable. A thrilling and frightening experience.
I would like to clarify before proceeding that, since my collaboration is in the genre of fanfiction where plot is predetermined and the characters exist as bases from which I can build, these reflections will not match those of authors creating a unique story together. Although I am sure there are similar challenges, authors in such partnerships would need extensive planning sessions to iron out the intricacies of plot and interactions. Given how much easier my job is since I'm working from established details, I give those authors a loud and enthusiastic round of applause!
Now we shall return to the experience of collaborating. As a result of the dynamic reality which comes from more realistic interaction, I have encountered several instances where I want to change the instinctual reaction of my character. Since my collaboration with leogrl19 is as much a character study as a plot-driven story, the characters are the story's focus. Therefore, altering their natural reactions defeats the purpose of the exercise.
This all sounds very technical, but it's an extremely emotional process as well. When the character I am writing suddenly demands I have them do something I cannot predict the results of I am deeply affected. The occurrence brought to light how much I like control, even on the most basic level of character decisions. Ultimately, I let the character make their choice and deal with the consequences. I get very emotionally involved with my characters so letting them do this is a bit terrifying, yet also freeing.
The experience has made me less afraid of consequences in a story. It's helping me separate my place as a writer from that of the characters living the narrative. This separation can be fluid and challenging to delineate, so the fact that this collaboration has enabled me to identify it in myself is powerful. I was also naive to how deeply affected by my characters I am, something that feels silly to admit, but is the truth.
Writing with another person is a very intimate process. Writing originates from experience and most of us draw from what is familiar. While no character is ever really the author, there are elements of an author in each person they create. This is why some authors describe characters as their children. They are, in a sense, born from an author and incorporate aspects of their parent, not all of which are positive.
Have any of you ever participated in a collaboration? If so, what has it taught you about being an author? If you haven't, would you like to – why or why not? Perhaps you've experienced some of what I'm describing without writing alongside another author. If so, what are your thoughts? Until next time!
Here is where I post updates and thoughts about my writing (as well as sources of inspiration).