Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some Ami-able Rewrite Ideas

I decided quite a while ago not only that I need to completely overhaul the first act of the Sailor Moon script, but also more or less how I want to do it. The first act differed too much from the introductory events presented in earlier versions of Sailor Moon (manga, anime, PGSM) . The deviations from the "proper" storyline that come into play later on the script will have more impact if everything initially seems to be going "according to plan." So, not only is the cultural festival in the first act going to be nixed (I always hated that idea anyway) but many of the character development scenes involving the supporting characters (Ami, Rei, Makoto, Mamoru. . . and yes, Minako's in there too) will either be omitted, retooled, or moved further ahead in the script.

Another, related, thing that I realized was that the budding relationship between Ami and Tomoe, which was hinted at in this part of the first draft, can be set up quite a bit better than it has been in this draft. So, with that in mind, I thought I'd give a summary of the revisions I had in mind regarding Ami's development in the story up to now.

Ami's Introduction:

When Ami is first mentioned in the script, she's not actually present; rather, Umino is discussing a strange "genius girl" with Usagi and Naru, complaining about how she always gets better grades than he does. When Umino spots her, Usagi turns to have a look and mistakenly thinks that this genius is actually a tall, slim fourteen year old with short hair, much like the Ami we all know and love from earlier versions of Sailor Moon.

Nothing new here so far. Now, flash forward to after school. Luna, still recovering from her injuries, has fallen asleep next to a sidewalk, a few feet away from a pedestrian overpass. She's woken up by a little girl, around eight years old, asking Luna if she's okay. Hardly in the mood to humor some overimaginative kid, Luna ignores her, but as she (the kid) keeps going, it becomes clear she's not an ordinary little girl. Her choice of words is just a shade too clever, her manners just a little too refined. Upon examining Luna, she reveals that she possesses a fair amount of medical knowledge, enough to deduce that Luna has suffered a concussion. She offers to take Luna to a vet, but Luna backs off. The girl acquiesces and leaves Luna be, but not before politely introducing herself as none other than Ami Mizuno.

Ami Tries to be a Good Friend Book (Bonus points if you catch the references):

I'm having a little trouble figuring out how to fit this scene in with the others, but I really want it in here somewhere. Ami is riding the bus, on her way to crams school, when she see a handsome boy, roughly her age, sitting a couple of seats over. They're silent at first, but then Ami (perhaps after hearing some girls from Juuban Junior High talking about her) decides to strike up a conversation. After a moment of small talks, the boy matter-of-factly asks Ami if she would like to see his elephant. Ami politely says yes. . . at which point the boy drops his pants, releasing his "elephant" into the wild. Horrified, Ami runs off of the bus, which leads up to our next scene. . .

Ami v. Bullies:

Almost immediately after running off the bus, Ami is confronted by the same bullies we saw nearly beat up Usagi (indeed, in the second draft, Usagi will not encounter the bullies). Ami makes a couple of surprisingly daring and clever attempts to escape them, but eventually they corner her against a wall. Things go from bad to worse when she sees a tall, mean looking girl approaching the group from behind. But just when the leader to the bullies is about to kick at Ami, he's stopped by the other girl, who turns out to be Makoto. Before Makoto and the bully have a chance to really get into it, a police car pulls up, and Ami makes a break for it.

Ami at the Hospital:

Still nerved out from her encounter with the bullies, Ami returns home, only to find that her estranged father has left an angry message on voice mail. Worse, Ami's mother has forgotten an important file at home, and rather than come home to get it herself, she's asked Ami to come to the hospital and drop it off for her. Great. So she goes to the hospital, and after a vain search for her mother, she accidentally enters the room of a "sleeping sickness" patient.

So far, so the same. But now, instead of running and crying to her mother, she walks out into the main hall and faints. When she comes to, she's being tended to by a gentle, elderly man. Ami's mother, Saeko Mizuno, soon joins them, and the man is revealed to be none other than Souichi Tomoe, the infamous grand old man of Japanese medicine. It turns out that Tomoe has been visiting Saeko (a former student of his) at the hospital semi-regularly, assisting Saeko in her research into a strange, rare form of cancer contracted by one of her patients. Tomoe has even arranged for Saeko to present the results of her research at a talk happening at his own private school, Mugen Gakuen, a scientific academy which admits only the best and brightest students Japan has to offer.

Ami, having given Saeko her documents, is about to go home, but Saeko asks her to stay for a bit. At first, Saeko and Tomoe discuss their research, but gradually the focus shifts to Ami herself, specifically the only aspect that anyone seems to care about: her intellect. It's at this point that Ami suspects something else is going on here, and her suspicions only grow when Tomoe--casually, but not casually enough-- invites Ami to attend her mother's talk. She realizes that her whole visit to the hospital was a ruse; Tomoe's and Saeko's real intent is to eventually convince Ami to attend Mugen Gakuen.

Ami leaves, but Tomoe catches up with her. He comes clean: the whole thing was ruse-- in fact, he would have disappointed in her if she had not seen through it. Through their conversation, we learn something very important about Ami: she suffered a nervous breakdown a few years ago, a results of her parents' divorce and of the stratospheric expectations heaped upon her. This is why she's still in junior high school, despite her obvious intellectual gifts. Ami doesn't want to be pressured into anything, and Tomoe agrees to leave the matter alone.

But before she leaves, Tomoe asks for a chance to plead his case, straight up. He tells her a story going back to his days working at Princeton University in the 1950's. Sometime during his tenure at Princeton, residents of a nearby New Jersey factory town were showing symptoms of a strange new disease. Tomoe-- in his telling of the story, at least-- realized that this disease was not natural in origin but rather the result of ground water contamination originating from the town's chemical factory, and that the evidence was being covered up by owners of the factory, in collusion with corrupt authorities (he also points out that this was years before Minamata, just in case you noticed the similarity). For Tomoe, this was a seminal moment-- no longer some abstract intellectual exercise or public health issue, this was now a battle, with a hero and a villain. It crystallized, in Tomoe's mind, the moral obligations that come with great intellect, the opportunities to perform acts of genuine good that ordinary people could never hope for. Since then, he says, he has always tried to do good with his intellect, and will keep on doing whatever good he can do, "right up until the end."

It's a vain, melodramatic story, and a deeply ironic one given what we'll learn about Tomoe later on. Nevertheless, it strikes a chord with Ami. Before they part, Tomoe dares Ami to do something worthwhile with her intellect, to solve a great problem. . . whether or not she decides to go to Mugen Gakuen. That last dare sticks with Ami. For the first time in a long while, Ami sees her intellectual gift as a gift, an opportunity rather than an obligation. She will solve a great problem. . . but which one?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day-- 'Cause Nothing Says "Love" Quite Like A Holiday Named After a Catholic Priest Who Had His Head Cut Off.

On this, that highest of high fabricated giftcard non-holy days, let us remember that love is evolution's way of making sure Daddy sticks around just long enough to help raise the kids.

Cynicism on Valentine's Day. . . I'll bet no-one's ever thought of THAT before!
Locations of visitors to this page