There is a rule that states that fiction is about friction. I absolutely agree, in every way I possibly can. Without conflict, there is no substance, no reason to keep watching. Some people might not be bothered by shows and novels that are lighter on that area but believe me when I say even the most light-hearted of all stories requires conflict to work, and by that I mean to make the reader/viewer give a damn.
At first, this was all Kouma was to me.
Shin-tsu and Ryo could spend great days together, but it would read as wish fulfillment and lies unless I made the sickness subplot come sooner. I would have hated that and as a cast it would feel incomplete, in a sense. I don’t think I would have it in me, to write a sweet love story like that… mostly because there’d be no story whatsoever. No matter how you think about it, no one wants to read about people being happy all the time. Like I mentioned in the previous post, how could we relate to them?
Kouma filled a personality-section gap and I made sure to shove it on it on the readers face with the whole id, ego and superego motif. Shin-tsu could be the bread and Shiina Ryo the butter, but that girl is the knife that can be used to rip, spread and connect the two elements. The moment I inserted her in the mess I call a novel I knew she wasn’t just the odd one sticking out like a sore thumb. She was that and a little more.
Even though Shin-tsu was happy to find a town in the world he didn’t seem to have visited yet and even though Ryo was continuously supportive one cannot expect a runner to stop running in face of imminent danger (and by that, I mean Mystery rather than a mere paper card that makes a person trip balls and see a Lovecraftian abomination) just because “oh she believes in me and wants me well”. That’s silly and I’ve seen that written somewhere else too. A single kind of relationship isn’t enough to establish order. Within chaos, runners gonna run.
You need more, and it’s hard to talk about this because the end of the novel already has a small dissertation on a very similar subject. The lover and the comrade are good archetypes, especially if they come in the same person; more than hope for it, you should actively seek those kind of qualities because, as I tell my brother every single day, you should only marry a model if she makes you laugh, can discuss metaphysics, defeat you on videogames and if you can do all of that for her too (including looking good enough in her eyes). Equality is important; although one should keep in mind it doesn’t require the two elements to be virtually the same.
It’s also not enough to make one whole.
You need a mission, you need a beginning, you need a mentor, you need training and you need a rival; Kouma is the latter. She is that person you wanted to fight rather than surpass. She is the one that would not be kind as to hide the truth you don’t want to see, the fact you suck and you could suck less but you won’t unless you stop crying about stuff and do something. And she’s not going to let you know that by spelling it out for you, she’s going to show you stuff and if you’re not clever enough to follow the signs you’re not half the man she expected you to be, therefore not a worthy enemy. And if all is well and she’s feeling cold the two of you’ll lock arms and oh my God I still love that cheesy scene so much.
She’s a Gary Oak with a good haircut you’d bring home to meet your mom (unless you want to take Gary himself, I don’t know, people have the weirdest tastes and stuff). So, yeah, this is how she began. First as a plot device, then an antagonist of sorts.
But then Kouma was more.
Her motivations started to be unveiled when I realized how odd she was. Unlike Ryo, she seemed to be good at pretty much everything except perhaps smiling and avoiding future Diabetes. Maybe not the last one, as the Taiyaki would have to get her overweight before she had any chances of developing Type 2 and there’s a special denomination in Portuguese made for people like her that roughly translates to ‘evil people never put on weight’; which, of course, is kind of hard to see as fact considering some of the most insane Roman emperors, but otherwise would be quite enlightening regarding how insufferably thin yours truly has always been.
Back to the point.
It’s hard to see how a girl that at times takes elitism to whole new levels, ignores or judges the ones she just met and teases the ones she already know, often doesn’t care about the kind of vibe she gives to other people, decides everything in the world is based off strawman arguments and Freudian standards (and on top of that, mostly first year of Psychology material only) and would fight to the death against someone because that person made her best friend cry would easily become a favorite character to everyone, yet she did. Even mine, really.
As the story progressed in my head, I saw she needed the spotlight more often than I initially assumed because if anyone is the active part of the main trio, it’s her. As implied by her, it should be Shin-tsu but I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say it’d be hard for someone like him to overcome her. Perhaps specifically because she is not the main character but rather the side character that grows to be the one to take it all in the end, our very own dark horse.
When I started thinking about the powers that would suit the characters I knew. I knew it was her who would decide the fate of the world, to save or kill and send us all to hell. Dead or alive, it had to be her call.
At this point, you are not able to tell ‘why’. This is the reason for the interlude chapter seen through her eyes that will follow chapter 2: to show how other people see Koukishin Shinzou and why it’s so important that, when the time comes, he has a moral compass to rely on no matter how warped this compass might be.