Sunday, November 14, 2010

This is What I Do When I'm Stuck Writing One Story. . . Spoil Another One!

Hi Everyone,

As I mentioned earlier, one of the character sketches that I've been itching to write is also one that might spoil things later on in the script. Granted, all the character sketches I've written so far are spoilers in a sense, but this one contains particularly sensitive information. After scribbling out a rough draft that avoids giving away anything in a blatantly obvious way, I've decided to write up the sketch and post it. Hopefully, if you do decide to read it, it'll be subtle enough to peak your interest without revealing too much.

. . . though, now that I think about it, the very fact that I mentioned that this sketch contains spoilers may allow people to guess what's about to happen. A similar thing happened to me when people mentioned that The Sixth Sense had a "twist ending". . . I guessed the ending before I even saw the movie. Do they have a name for that? The "Shayamalan Effect?"

Anyway, be warned. Here there be spoilers.

. . . and yes, I know this come perilously close to Peter Parker territory near the end, but it'll get better afterward, I promise.

If I Wrote the Sailor Moon Movie #19: The Disappearance of Minako Aino, Part #1

Minako Aino, or rather Sailor V, barely escaped Eudial and Mimet's treacherous attack following the defeat of Queen Beryl and the Dark Kingdom. Weakened by the attack, she did not dare try to confront them immediately-- she knew that even at her peak she was no match against the combined might of her new foes. Instead, she made her way back to Tokyo, the hard way: knowing that the portal that took her to D-point would be under guard, she pushed her senshi abilities to their limit and made the 3500 kilometer journey to Japan directly, transversing the vast Siberian tundra, sneaking through the Koreas, stowing away aboard a JAL airliner, and finally allowing herself to be "caught" by Japanese customs in Osaka. . . all of it in eight days, with the Cold War still stubbornly lurching on.

Minako Aino was an athletic, attractive and popular schoolgirl-- naturally, her disappearance during those eight days became national news. Police throughout Japan, along with authorities in foreign ports of entry, were kept on high alert. Minako's school picture was broadcast on Japanese TV every day and night. Politicians and pundits across the spectrum exploited her disappearance to suit their own pet causes. To some, "Minako-chan's" disappearance (a few media figures in Japan took to addressing her as Minako-chan) was a direct consequence of the collapse of traditional family and societal structure in the face of rampant modernization; to others, it was a result of increasing police corruption and the growing influence of organized crime at all levels of society. Some even went so far as to accuse the North Koreans of kidnapping her. The cover story Minako had concocted-- that she was following a famous J-pop idol on her east-Asian tour-- did little to help matters (indeed, said singer's career actually suffered a setback as a result of the controversy). Minako Aino, affectionately known as "Minako-chan" while she was missing, was decried nationwide as a symbol of modern youth's irresponsibility after she was found.

Minako had bigger things to worry about than her reputation, though. She had travelled three and a half thousand kilometers to avoid being discovered by her enemies, only to find the national media announcing her disappearance-- one which just happened to occur on the same day as the attack on the Dark Kingdom. The last thing she needed was fifteen minutes of infamy. Knowing how intelligent her enemies were, she was sure that they would find her soon enough. . . except, they didn't. Days passed, and then weeks, with no sign of the enemy. Only after a month's passing was Minako finally certain that her enemies, for one reason or another, were not coming for her after all.

Whatever relief she may have felt was short-lived. Whether or not they were after Minako personally, they were still out there, and she needed to find them. Minako knew that the only reason she was still alive was because her enemies believed her to have been killed. Thus, "Sailor V" was temporarily retired, while Minako did her best to investigate the enemy without being discovered. Unfortunately, her enemies proved to be too cunning for her. Whoever or whatever they were, they left not a single trace of their existence. Even the portal which she had used to travel to D-point had vanished-- whether it was destroyed or re-located, she couldn't know. For all intents and purposes, they were simply gone.

Minako's search for the enemy became her top priority. Everything else came second-- family, school, friends. . . whatever semblance of a personal life she had, she maintained only as a cover for her true mission. No-one was more surprised by this-- or more disturbed-- than her mentor, Artemis. When he first met Minako, Artemis had to pressure her into performing her senshi duties. Now, she was letting her life fall by the wayside for the sake of the mission. Minako's relationship with her family, in particular, suffered heavily, much to Artemis' dismay. Minako's mother, Ikuko, had always thought her daughter was irresponsible, but she never thought she would do something as reckless as to run away from home to follow some singer on tour. Minako's aloof attitude following her return only made things worse. Does Minako not even care about what she put her family through?, she wondered. Does she think only of herself?

Minako was on the lookout for two-and-a-half months. That's how long it took for the times to finally catch up to the Aino family. The asset bubble had burst, and Japan's once mighty economy was crumbling. Minako's father Kenji Aino, a man who had studied finance in England only to become a run-of-the-mill salaryman, was one of many who suddenly found themselves without a job. He could no longer support his family, and getting another job would be next to impossible-- bad economy or not, for a salaryman to lose his job was considered deeply shameful. So, like many at the time, he did the honourable thing: he left home to live on the streets of Tokyo, never to see his family again. Suddenly, the enemies who had nearly killed her all those months ago seemed incredibly distant. Whatever had motivated her to find her enemies-- was it a sense of duty? A thirst for revenge? Fear?-- vanished in an instant. Her family needed her now.

Ikuko managed to get a menial job, but this alone was not enough to support the family. Minako was unabale to find lasting part-time work; despite sincere intentions, she ended getting fired from her first two jobs. School, she decided, was getting in her way. She decided that she would talk to her mother about dropping out of school and going to work full time, at least until things started to get better. She waited in the kitchen for two hours that night, mentally preparing for the conversation while she cleaned things up. She expected her mother to vehemently object once she revealed her plan, but then relent once she saw how serious Minako was about helping the family.

Instead, she just laughed, and went to bed.

When Minako had disappeared all those months ago, she had lied about running away from home. That night, while her mother and younger brother slept, she came very close to running away for real. The only thing that stopped her, in fact, was Artemis, who found her huddled in a corner at a nearby train station, weeping.
Not that he said very much. What could he say? "Sorry that things didn't turn out as planned"? "Yeah, I know I told you that there would be other warriors that would fight by your side, but hey, them's the breaks"? "Hey, this is what you get for trying to save the world"? So the two sat in that train station for hours, virtually without speaking. Then Minako broke the silence.

"I think I'd like to introduce you to Mom."

Artemis quickly looked around to make sure no-one was listening, and then replied, "I think we've already met. Charming woman."

"I'd like to go back home."

"That's sounds like a good idea--"

"I'd like to knock on her door, wake her up, and transform, right there in front of her. Then, I could introduce you. 'Mom, you remember Artemis, right?' Then you say, 'So nice to finally meet you, Miss Aino. How do you do? And now that we've met, please allow me to introduce your daughter, Sailor V. Surely, you've heard of Sailor V, the crime-stopping vigilante? Well, I don't mean to take up your time, you two obviously have a lot to discuss. I just thought you might like to know that, whatever you might have thought, your daughter did believe in something. She did take something seriously. Yes, she failed at it. And no, it won't be any help to your family whatsoever. You'll still have struggle to keep the loan sharks off your backs, but at least. . .'"

Even as she spoke, those few words, "won't be any help," hung in her mind. It seemed ridiculous. All those people Sailor V saved, but she can't even help her own family. She didn't quite realize it then, but the germ of an idea was already beginning to grow in her head. Sailor V had been in hiding for too long. She was due for a comeback. . .

To be continued.

1 comment:

Cait said...

I'm excited for your next update! It definitely seems like you're channeling PGSM Minako rather than the anime version (though admittedly I've only seen two seasons of the anime...), and I can't wait to see how it all turns out :)

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