[FFML] [Mai Hime, Future] First Contact

Raye Johnsen raye_j at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 23 10:10:38 PDT 2009

--- On Sun, 8/23/09, John Biles <john at biles.us> wrote:

> > This more centered, straightforward narrative with a
> single POV was
> > pleasant to read, even though I started out not
> particularly liking
> > Shinichiro as a character.  
> >
> Shinichiro was very much a character experiment for me;

One which I for one am glad you did.

I confess I was predisposed to like him from the outset, because I have a 'thing' for the characters who, through no fault of their own, 'miss out' in stories: the older brother of the Prodigal Son, the woodcutter's elder children, Cinderella's second stepsister who is as nice to Cinderella as she dares be under her mother and sister's gaze... the ones who have to sit back and watch someone else shine.

Let's just say I have a very great deal of sympathy for the older sister who took her younger sister walking on the cold sea strand, and while I'm glad Shinichiro never succumbed to the temptation, it was really good to read about somebody who would be tempted.

> >     I understand the appeal of
> fannishness; I really shouldn't obssessively
> >> watch the Diadochi, but I can't help myself.
> >>
> > Heh.  Second time you've referenced this soap
> opera.
> I like creating bits of culture like this which aren't big
> plot points but
> help to give a kind of common sense of world.

My googling this word brings up pages on ancient Greek history, specifically centring around the Macedonian period in the 3rd Century BC, which leads me to believe that this show is a bit of lore you've created for the fic.  If so, can you please share some notes on it?  It sounds interesting.

> >
> >     Plus, it is Desert Rose, which
> I hate with a burning aluminum fury.
> >>
> >>
> > Heh.  I think we got it.  Why doesn't Nao
> tease him about this?  Maybe he
> > acquired this hate after leaving home, though.
> >
> Heh.  There's some subtext here which I never managed
> to actually make
> explicit.
> Pre-Finding Out-Everything, Shinichiro was a big fan of a
> lot of magical
> girl / high school fantasy / etc. programs like this
> one.  Ending up
> discovering the truth about everything basically caused him
> to turn on his
> old love of this stuff as part of his general struggles
> with self-loathing /
> angst / etc.  I tried to hint he knows too much about
> this to have always
> hated it but I was probably too subtle.

And here I thought it was simply the same reason why I mutter "and where is the food, and where is the food" during the cross-Antarctica scenes in Happy Feet, my geologist friend snarks bloody murder at movies like The Core and The Day After Tomorrow, and my marine biologist friend throws cushions and popcorn at the screen during the shark scene of Finding Nemo: they who know How It Really Works tend to be either infuriated or disappointed by the way Hollywood Always Gets It Wrong.  I was thinking that, as the son and nephew of a set of genuine Magical Girls, Shinichiro knows exactly How It Works, and how Desert Rose manages to Get It So Wrong It's Not Funny.  And gets infuriated by it.

As an educator and someone dedicated to giving people correct information, it can't be fun to watch something and have a little voice chanting 'that's not right, it doesn't work like that' in the back of your head for the *entire show*. 

> >  gentle with her despite my usual gut reaction to
> seeing anything connected
> >> to Desert Rose, which is the urge to soak it in
> gasoline and watch it
> >> burn.
> >>
> >>
> > No!  Really?
> >
> Really.

Don't hold back, Shinichiro.  Tell us how you *really* feel.

> >
> >  fill in for all sports, though we have a few
> practice fields.  We have a
> >> goatload of picnic tables.
> >>
> > First time through, I went by 'goatload' without
> thinking about it.  Third
> > time though, it struck me that goats can't actually
> carry all that much, so
> > I looked the word up online, and found a definition
> that means "offal".
> > Not sure I'd change anything, but if you mean "a large
> number" (as context
> > suggests), you might want to be aware that this
> doesn't seem to be a
> > widely-known definition.  Or is that a typo for
> 'boatload'?
> >
> It's Texas slang.  But I will change it, as it's not
> really fitting for him.

I don't think so either.  Here in Queensland (northeastern quarter of Australia) prior to the twentieth century goats were beasts of burden and were often used like oxen or mules, to haul small wagons around.  So while it's not in general use, someone from my region will interpret 'goatload' as 'a medium load, too big for one person to carry alone, but not oversized'.  I don't think Japan has this same context, though.

What is the Japanese traditional beast of burden?  I can't find reference to any in any reference I have.  IIRC, nobles had access to horses, but the average peasant had nothing save himself.

> >     I'm not sure if it was just
> me, but Miyu looked actually disappointed
> >> it
> >> was just a messed up dog.  Delightful.

I have to admit, I was expecting the dogs in the park to play more of a role.  To be the first ones affected by the magical warfare about to go down, and thus to be the menace Shinichiro faces.  There really is very little scarier than a pack of dogs gone feral (yes, I speak from experience).  Having them taken out by another enemy first seems to me anticlimactic.

> >     "What's wrong?" Nakamori-san
> asked me, sounding worried, her hand on my
> >> shoulder as I shivered, feeling a burst of utter
> rage and hate.
> >>
> >>
> > What's not at all clear in this story is why Nakamori
> like Shinichiro.
> >  Yes, he's tall, athletic, and concerned about
> his students, but being prone
> > to obsessed depression would be a major
> turn-off.

... Um.

Okay, as a girl, I have to say that that's not always the case.  Or even often the case.  Also, Shinichiro isn't even really depressed in this story.  He is not too depressed to get out of bed, or to teach his classes, or to cook, or... well, he's not acting depressed at all.  I'd assume he was serious, with a tendency to melancholy, but that's not the same as depression at all.

Of course, I have experience with clinical depression; that may have coloured my impressions.

> >     There is no other way to
> power.  I tried.  I blew a huge amount of time
> >> chasing fairy tales and lies.  Some college
> kids blow money on beer, I
> >> blew
> >> all mine on magic that didn't work.  I should
> have known better.  In the
> >> end, it amounted to nothing.  I am powerless
> and there's no way to change
> >> that.

I am surprised that his family didn't think to try to give him his own role and power; having seen how Tate, Haruka, Takumi and they themselves reacted to 'powerlessness', they should have known it would poison the next generation too.

> >     Watanabe Hiro was the king of
> the thugs at Saint Mark's, where I went
> >> to
> >> school in Junior High.  I hated it, but it
> was Catholic, so the folks sent
> >> me there.  It was right next door to Saint
> Anne's, a girl's school.
> >>
> >>
> > Are there really that many Catholic schools in
> Japan?  
> Yeah, I'm going to change it, though I'm assuming
> Catholicism is a little
> more prevalent in Hime-Japan than the real world.

I think you're following anime lore here.  In anime, it seems, private school = religion-based school, usually Japanese Christian (which is NOT the same as Catholic at all).

Of course, in Real Life, the Japanese Christians got reabsorbed into the Catholic Church when the Japanese Empire was dissolved and religious freedom was written into the Japanese Constitution, but the differences between the version of Christianity that survived in Japan under the suppression and the Roman Catholic Church made the period of transition Very Interesting for all concerned, and anime Christianity seems to have preserved several of the more unique quirks of the variant faith.

> > Kind of a Buddhist observation, not that it's
> implausible that a Shinto
> > priest would be well-educated in Buddhist concepts
> (Shinto not having any
> > real equivalent body of doctrine).
> In Japan, there's a lot of overlap, yeah.

Isn't it 'Live Shinto, marry Christian, die Buddhist'?

> >     We ended up with a huge amount
> of barbeque being delivered.  Mr. Cooper
> >> ordered it and paid for it all.  I think he
> likes to show off his money.
> >>
> >>    He certainly was showing it
> off.  And man, it was great barbeque.
> >>
> >>
> > Is there an awful lot of specifically Southern food
> and drink in this
> > story, or is it just me?  (Next they'll be
> chowing down on black-eyed peas
> > and collard greens.)

It's not just you.

With no disrespect intended to Mr. Biles, in my experience, American Southerners tend to be EXTREMELY patriotic about their food.  I've never met an American from that region who, when given the choice between an emphatically Southern USAian dish and another would not choose the USAian dish.  So I don't think he really realises he's doing it or how offputting it is to us of other cultures.  (Kind of like the premiere episode of Star Trek: Voyager, where they had the alien put everybody into a hallucination of a Southern USAian hoe-down and the alien said that it was 'the most welcoming situation for everyone'.  No, not for all the non-USAians it isn't...)

Barbeque varies in different parts of the world.  It would be interesting to see what type this was.  And if it was Mongolian as opposed to American.  Mongolian barbeque is very popular in Japan.

> >     I really wish I didn't have a
> life where I had cause to memorize the
> >> standard prayer to Saint Jude, patron saint of
> lost causes and forlorn
> >> hopes
> >> and last resorts.

Oh-kay - every college student of Catholic background I know (and being an alumni of an all-girl Catholic high school with ties to about seven other such schools, I know a *lot*) can recite a possibly-slightly-mangled but still pretty accurate version of the Standard Prayer to St. Jude.  He's the unofficial patron saint of every Catholic high school.  (He *is* the patron saint of students, too.)  It's not Shinichiro's overall life that led to that quirk - it's the fact he's spent more than twelve months in a Catholic school.

But he can blame his life if he wants to.

> >     "You don't have to be impotent
> or a monster," Nasu no Yoichi said.
> >>  "You
> >> just have to aspire to greatness and hone your
> skills until they bring you
> >> power.  Until you become the best and can
> overcome anything by your
> >> greatness.  As I did when facing the Heiki."

"It is our choices that define us, Harry."

> >     "I wonder if he will approach
> other men in our family," Aunt Shizuru
> >> said.
> >>
> >>    "Maybe," I said.  "Uncle
> Yuuichi, I think, has enough skill to appeal.
> >> I think...if this is the Silver Knight...he's
> looking for people who have
> >> worked hard to become good at something.  And
> who want to do great deeds
> >> with it.  That would be Uncle Yuuichi all
> over."
> >>
> > Heh.  Yep.
> Yes.  Given Crystal can now take care of herself a lot
> better and Mai is on
> the march, he is likely to become a lot more active. 

I'd think that they would be approached by *everybody*; given that they're forced to sit back and watch the women they love go back into danger for them, *again*, I think Kazuya at least, and probably Takumi too are going to be looking for ways to protect themselves, and thus open to offers they might otherwise refuse.

I am looking forward to more of this storyline!  I found the single narrative much easier to follow than the previous multiple viewpoints format, so I hope you'll continue to use it.  Also, I hope there's more from Shinichiro's viewpoint; given his position (unable to find a role within the family dynamic or its allies, he has taken up a role with what can only be at best a neutral third party) I think his commentary from his position of half-in, half-out will be really interesting.

And again, I find his position a woeful commentary on the attitudes of the older Hime; why didn't they realise that children always want to match or surpass their parents, especially those who are the offspring of those who perform great deeds?  Why didn't they teach him to see the heroism in everyday life and how to be a hero without magic powers?  Maybe the younger Hime wouldn't recognise the need, but Midori and Yukariko should have and they wouldn't have needed to break the Hime secret to do something about it.  I have to admit, in this storyline, I am getting really annoyed with the blatant STUPIDITY of the parents.  This is basic human nature stuff, it should not be coming as any kind of shock, and yet they've not prepared for any of it at all!


raye_j at yahoo.com

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men
and other mythical creatures.


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