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Author Topic: The El Hazard of Haruhi Suzumiya  (Read 5192 times)
Triple_R
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« Reply #75 on: July 15, 2009, 01:12:25 AM »

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First, let me congratulate you on seeing this through to the end.  Completing a story of this length and quality (and in this amount of time too) is an accomplishment you can be proud of.  


Thanks a lot. :)


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And, overall, I enjoyed the final chapter and felt it was consistent with what came before it.  I'll answer the questions you listed more specifically later this week or this weekend and focus on the update itself for now.


No problem. It'll likely be awhile before I start writing any sequels. The specific feedback I asked for is largely for the purposes of getting a good idea of where to go with any sequels.


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The confrontation on the rooftop was well written and probably one of the story's best fights, at least equal to or better than Yuki vs. Mikuru.  Jinnai's memory-fueled adrenaline rush and Haruhi's recollection-filled encouragements were well-timed and gave the battle a pleasing sense of emotional depth, and Galus was appropriately vicious and menacing here.


I was fairly confident that Jinnai's memory-fueled adrenaline rush would be compelling, but I was a bit worried that Haruhi's recollection-filled encouragements were a bit too lengthy - I'm glad that they both came across well, though.


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I do feel that it was a bit overly comic book-y at moments, but I've mentioned that before and it's likely more a matter of different tastes between us than anything wrong with the story itself.


Do you remember when I asked you and Spanner for your choice between three alternate conclusions? Well, each option I had coincided with a different means of Galus being defeated.

Over-The-Top Option 1 - Haruhi becomes Bugwoman and helps SOS Man defeat Galus.


Suspension-Of-Disbelief Option 2 - Jinnai essentially becomes Bruce Willis, steals a gun from Galus, and eventually shoots Galus down with it after Galus blows up pieces of the rooftop in trying to corner Jinnai; Jinnai defeats Galus with little or no help from Haruhi. Here, you have to believe that Jinnai can
signal-handedly defeat a cyborg killing machine - which I felt might be a bit too much for you and Spanner to swallow.


Plot Devicey Option 3 -

Haruhi: Katsuhiko... you have to get up and fight! Hurry!

Galus (to Jinnai): NOW YOU DIE!!!

SOS Man catches Galus' downwards punch, which shocks Galus; SOS Man has a reddish aura of power all around him, as he's been temporarily imbued with the might of Superman by Haruhi's God-like abilities. Still holding Galus' punch in his closed palm, SOS Man rises to his feet.

Jinnai: I'm putting an end to your madness Galus... just as Haruhi and Groucho put an end to mine. Now, I'm going to show you a REAL punch!

Jinnai finishes off Galus with a SOS Punch that's more powerful than a locomotive. ;)


Option 3 was actually my original plan, but I later decided that it would be better if Haruhi was a bit more active in her own rescue.

Option 2 was the only non-comicy booky one, but you and Spanner both shot it down, so... ;)  

Truthfully, these were the only three ways I could picture SOS Man winning (Haruhi helps directly, or Jinnai pulls off a Bruce Willis impersonation, or Jinnai goes Superman temporarily). If Haruhi was going to help directly, I was going to have fun with it. ;)


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I also really liked the scene with the cheering Bugrom at the end,


I wanted the Bugrom Empire as a whole to have a nice ending for a change, and hence the cheering for their victorious Queen and Supreme Commander. I'm really glad you liked this touch. :)


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...and I found Jinnai's line at Makoto's "interruption" very amusing.

Nice work with Makoto, Kyon, and Nanoha here too. There was nothing really unpredictable about the trio, but it was entertaining to see Kyon play the optimist to Makoto's pessimist in against type but believable portrayals.  And Kyon got the girl too which was nice. :)

The peace treaty signing was entertaining, and I particularly liked Jinnai's goading of Megraton.  The allusions to Transformers made the dialogue quite amusing.  The bit with Fatora was fun too.


Well, I'm very pleased that all of this came across well! Basically, it sounds like you enjoyed everything EXCEPT the big twist at the end. Since that means you enjoyed the solid majority of Chapter 20, that's pretty good then.

I had been a tiny bit hopeful that you or Spanner would like Chapter 20 in its entirety, but I also suspected that at least one bit of it would fall flat for one or both of you. For all but one scene to be received well is probably good.


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 As for the deus ex machine at the end...  


I'm... not quite sure why you call him a deus ex machina. It's not like Haruki helped his parents beat Galus or anything like that. Haruki does serve a couple plot device-esque roles, but he doesn't resolve any life-or-death struggles. Not in this fanfic anyway.


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I'm kind of split on it.  I liked your physical description of Haruki and the combination of Jinnai's mannerisms with Haruhi's excitement came across well,


That's excellent to know. Balancing out aspects of Haruhi with aspects of Jinnai in their future son is key to Haruki coming across well. It sounds like I managed this, which bodes well for any future use I make of him.


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...and his inclusion does wrap the story up and explain what set the metaphorical wheel spinning...but on the other hand Haruki came pretty much out of the blue.


I should say here that, while I appreciate the value of the foreshadowing literary device, I'm not as big a fan of it as you are. Put another way, I think it's good to balance out foreshadowed plot developments with startling plot twists - story cohesiveness is important, but so is ensuring that your story isn't overly predictable.

Since Chapter 20 was going to be fairly predictable in how SOS Man vs. Galus would conclude, I felt that the Haruki twist at the end would serve to add at least one welcomed surprising element to Chapter 20.

Haruki IS out of the blue... and intended to be as such.

"Out of the blue" does not equal "bad", in my mind. A lot of readers/viewers like surprises like that from time to time.

For example, I remember an Iron Man comic from the late 90s where Dr. Doom shows up out of the blue to be the villainous mastermind behind a major anti-Iron Man plot. It was a magnificent and dramatic entrance for Doom - one of his coolest villain moments ever, I felt.


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To make a comparison with OVA1 and Ifurita, although the audience didn't know who she was at the beginning they did know that she was responsible for putting the chain of events in motion.  When the OVA ended with Ifurita sent to Earth and reuniting with Makoto there was a beautiful sense of symmetry as everything came full circle and completed itself.  


OTOH, knowing that Ifurita loved Makoto and was the one to send him and the others to El Hazard made the El Hazard OVA much more predictable. For one, it was absolutely clear that Jinnai wasn't going to maintain control of Ifurita, which took a lot of the drama out of the Jinnai/Ifurita/Makoto scene in the final episode of the OVA, at least for me.

I agree with you on the beautiful sense of symmetry, but it came at a price.

With my own fanfic, I had hoped that Koizumi and Kyon in Chapter 20 referencing their own conversation in Chapter 1 would provide a nice sense of symmetry itself.


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With your ending, because there was no foreshadowing at all that I can remember (other than Koizumi knowing more than he should, of course, but that's typical for Koizumi *g*) the same sense is missing and Haruki partially comes across as a contrived plot device.


I... really don't see how he's any more of a contrived plot device than Ifurita herself is. Both are used in almost identical ways to send people to El Hazard. Both serve plot device-esque roles but they're more than plot devices.


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Had you included some mention of the "bizarre stranger who came out of nowhere and flashed the SoSBrigade with lights" in Kyon's narrative at some point in the story his sudden introduction might not have felt so abrupt, but as is it feels overly convenient.  


Rowan, given the nature of who Haruki is surely you must understand why I didn't want to tip my hat to him at all. It's easy to imagine, for example, that if I had incorporated the line that you suggested into an earlier chapter, that you and Spanner would ask "Why aren't Kyon and Koizumi brainstorming more on who this stranger could be? Why aren't they bringing him up to their new El Hazard friends?"

And once I walk down THAT path, I risk giving the entire secret away... which would spoil the Haruhi/Jinnai plot-line entirely.


I'm a bit surprised that Haruki, in and of himself, bothered you this much. I understand where you're coming from on him, but at the same time, I hope that you can see the rationale behind my use of him in this story, as well as my rationale for not hinting at him at all beforehand. I truly did not think that Haruki, in and of himself, would bother you anywhere near this much.

That being said, I was aware of the risks of having Haruki provide a startling explanation to Galus'
out-of-character behavior as of late. With that in mind...


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Your use of him to explain away other "inconsistencies" exacerbated the issue too.


It's unfortunate that my explanation to Galus' "inconsistencies" didn't resonate with you... but I'll concede this particular complaint to you, since I knew going in that you and Spanner might not like this PARTICULAR way that I used Haruki.

Is it better for Galus to act out of character for no apparent reason, or is it better for Galus to act out of character because he's being manipulated from behind the scenes?

There's pros and cons both ways, and I was hopeful that you and Spanner would prefer the latter, but I can understand it if you don't.


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Still, all in all a fun chapter and a good story.  Thanks for sharing, and I'll try to go into more detail on some other points later.    


Thanks. :)  

All of our disagreements aside, I now have a good read of what you like - for conclusions, at least, it seems that you prefer the neat and tidy cohesive approach with out any big plot twists at the end. If Spanner shares that sentiment, it'll give me a good idea of how to write any future El Hazard fanfic conclusions.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 02:37:26 AM by triple_r » Logged
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« Reply #76 on: July 17, 2009, 02:19:29 PM »

Before I start my review of Chapter 20, I wanted to address a couple things that you mentioned.

First off, you expressed disappointment that I was apparently predicting the events of the final chapter. Please don't take that too seriously... While you pride yourself on surprises and randomness to keep the reader guessing, please understand that a longtime reader of fiction like myself is going to recognize patterns in stories. None of my "predictions" were specific enough to guarantee anything except a happy ending - and it's really not unreasonable to expect a happy ending, given the way that the story has proceeded so far.

There are authors out there, to be sure, who are so determined to buck the "natural" storytelling order that they'll pull a tragic ending out of an otherwise uplifting story, but such attempts, while shocking, are merely shocking for shock's value; they're rarely examples of good storytelling. Predictable does NOT always equal bad.

In this case, pretty much the only way that you could fail to meet my expectations would be to suddeny twist the story around into some kind of grim, nightmarish conclusion where everybody dies and Gauls wins forever bwahahahaha! While that kind of ending would, indeed, be surprising, that doesn't mean that it would be a GOOD ending. Certainly not one worthy of this story as it's been written so far.

To respond to your analysis of Galus's fallability, you're right, we may have been assigning Galus a bit too much credit. On the other hand, both in this fanfiction and in the original source material, Galus has been presented as a schemer with a brilliant mind. In otherwords, someone who is probably smarter than I am. XD So, when judging whether a situation should be considered a "plothole" or not in his case, I try to estimate, "Is that a problem that I'd be able to see?" and then modify a bit to try to accound for Galus's prejudices and megalomania. It's not an exact science, but that's where I'm coming from.

(It's a bit of a modification on the "5-year old" test that more comic book writers SHOULD apply to their work than actually do: Does this plan have holes in it that a 5-year old could see? Failure to apply this rule is one of the reasons that comic books and other similar media have the "kid's stuff" stigma that they do, in spite of the fact that so many works are well above that level.)

Anyway, on to Chapter 20!

We start off with Galus's brutal thrashing of Jinnai. I appreciated the glance into Galus's mindset, and how he realized that with everything about to blow up around him this was the only way to salvage even a partial victory. This is the Galus we like to see, one that always has a back-up plan! Jinnai's futile come-back was well-done as well; it was good to see him get a few blows in. I have to admit, though, that if I was Galus I might have been a little more... drastic in my abuse of Jinnai. While killing him is out, ripping off a limb or two, gouging out an eye, or some other graphic and LASTING injury might have moved Haruhi along the path of despair a little more quickly.

On Kyon's front, I enjoyed their group efforts to diffuse the bomb, and if I'd been a teenaged girl I'd have squeeee'd for sure at Kyon's "I'm gonna die anyway so why not?" kiss with Nanoha. The "Oh crap, I didn't die, what now?" awkwardness that followed was fun, too.

I thought that Haruhi's montage of morale-boosting memories dragged on a hair too long, but the emergence of BUGWOMAN at the end was well-worth the wait. ;D I was glad, too, to finally see an explanation as to why Haruhi modelled Jinnai's superhero alter-ego off of a thoroughly western construct like Superman, when there were many Japanese heros she could have chosen. Superman's origins as a friendly alien hidden among humans would have definitely struck a cord with her. (On the other hand, I'd be shocked if there wasn't SOME Japanese manga hero with similar origins, but I shan't quibble.)

And then Haruhi's and Katsuhiko's romantic pledge of love... It was nice. Hopefully you weren't TOO disappointed that you didn't convert me over to Jinnai/Haruhism by the story's conclusion; I did warn you it'd be a tough sell. And NOT because I was lusting for a Haruhi/Fatora lesbian romp, thankyouverymuch. ^^;

Haruhi then shows her boyfriend off to her friends. I liked this scene a lot, as it had lots of funny awkward moments, "Uh, yeah, I already met Jinnai. He was trying to kill Makoto at the time." Loved the all-too apt comparison of Kyon to Groucho, too.

The peace treaty signing was well-done, with an additional appearance by our old friend Megraton. Then there was Fatora's fate as per the peace accord... It felt just a bit as though were were throwing us reviewers what you percieved to be a bone, but it was cute nonetheless. (Brokeback Muldoon was a great choice of names, by the way; the name alone evokes nearly the entire storyline of the lonely priestesses that find comfort in each others' arms...) Perhaps Fatora will take a greater interest in the political side of her job, now that someone's around to make her life miserable who has at least as much mischief in her soul as she.

Then the wrap-up. The introduction of Haruki Suzumiya-Jinnai would have been a MUCH nicer touch if that "strange student" had actually been mentioned earlier in the story. It's possible that he was, and I just couldn't find it again, but I had no memory of it. It was a good way to explain how Yuki and Itsuki had as much foreknowledge as they did. However, your wording seemed to imply that the two had a near-step-by-step map of everything that was going to happen in El-Hazard. Or perhaps I'm reading too much into it... Anyway, I think it'd be much more suitable for the son of Jinnai and Haruhi to risk everything on a wild gamble:

(Jinnai side) That rat thinks he's bested me, but I'll get my parents together yet!

(Haruhi side) I'm sure if I introduce my parents to each other they'll fall in love! Everything will work out!

He then throws everyone to El-Hazard and lets nature take its course.

The idea of the El-Hazard and Haruhi continuities as we know them being the result of malignant manipulations by the enemy of Jinnai's and Haruhi's son's enemy was an interesting one. It definitely makes me wish that Haruki had at least thrown out a name, though; with his foe remaining nameless, it gives him a deus ex machinaish feel that would have been very easy to avoid.

Anyway, we DID have a happy ending, and believe me I'm happy to see it. Everything wrapped up well, with interesting futures available as an option for each character, plenty of hooks for sequels if you feel the itch, and so on. Well done, I very much enjoyed this final chapter, and the story as a whole!
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« Reply #77 on: July 17, 2009, 03:25:48 PM »

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Rowan, given the nature of who Haruki is surely you must understand why I didn't want to tip my hat to him at all. It's easy to imagine, for example, that if I had incorporated the line that you suggested into an earlier chapter, that you and Spanner would ask "Why aren't Kyon and Koizumi brainstorming more on who this stranger could be? Why aren't they bringing him up to their new El Hazard friends?"

And once I walk down THAT path, I risk giving the entire secret away... which would spoil the Haruhi/Jinnai plot-line entirely.

Now that I've read Rowan's thoughts and your reply, I wanted to touch on this topic, since it's one that I brought up in my review as well.

There are ways to have introduced Haruki early in the story without necessarily having given anything away. For instance, he could have simply been the student representative who volunteered to show Haruhi and friends around. Perhaps Kyon could have noticed that he seemed familiar somehow, but I don't think that would have given things away if you'd left it at that. (You'd probably have to have disguised the fact that HE was the one to send them to El-Hazard, in this case.)

Or, if you prefer, you could have simply passed him off as a member of a faction of time travellers (there's multiple factions, I believe, including Mikuru's), who approached Itsuki's Organization with a proposal that they found to be advantageous. Given the nature of the Haruhi universe, I think this is something that most Haruhi fans would pass off as acceptable, and not immediately come to the conclusion that he's related to any of the cast. (After all, Mikuru's not related to anyone - as far as we know.)

Both of these solutions would have left the guy as a relative non-entity - until you sprung him as being significant after all. It's a very different situation than the one with Ifurita, I think.

While you did avoid the problem of, "Why don't Kyon and Itsuki talk about this strange dude that sent them here?", you replaced it with the problem of, "Wait, a strange dude sent them here? Why didn't Kyon and Itsuki ever talk about him earlier in the story?"

While I'm admittedly unfamiliar with the Iron Man / Dr. Doom plotline you mentioned, I don't think this is very similar. Rather than characters omitting valuable information because they don't know about it (I'm guessing Iron Man didn't know about Dr. Doom's involvement), or because they think it's irrelevant, they've omitted it because the author doesn't want the readers to know about it, even though it's something that the characters should be more interested in.

Anyway, now onto the post story questions you asked!

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Ok... How do you feel I did with each of the following over the course of the entire fanfic?


Characterization -

Jinnai and Haruhi were presented extraordinarily well, even granting my personal skepticism at pairing them romantically.

Kyon seemed, perhaps, a little off at times, and when those times occurred, I mentioned them. He was predominantly well-done, though I think he could have been a bit whinier. ;D

Nanami was a bit rough to start with, but once you recognized it she improved greatly.

I enjoyed the Fatora scenes, but had to admit that she seemed a little more restrained than she should have been.

Galus seemed a little iffy; most of the time he was the mwahaha schemer I felt he should be, but sometimes he seemed jarringly random in his actions.

Pretty much all the rest of the canon casts were presented well.

I enjoyed almost all of the original characters you added and some, like Prince Randorm, I found myself wishing had shown up a little more later on rather than making an appearance and then disappearing into the mists of time.

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Basic Enjoyment/Fun Factor -

It was a good romp. I won't say that it's the best fanfiction that I've ever read, but it's one that I read through to the end and enjoyed most of the ride.

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Plot Believability -

Pretty good. I had some discomfort with Galus's plans and the conclusions that he jumped to, but for the most part the characters moved the plot along in sensible ways.

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General Writing Quality -

To be honest, the comic-booky style didn't really work for me. (It doesn't work very well for me in comic books, either, to be honest. XD) I thought that the gratuitous use of italics and boldface text were more distracting than engaging. This almost certainly is more a matter of opinion, though, than an evaluation of your writing quality.

Setting that aside, your grammar and spelling were predominantly good. I have no complaints.

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OVERALL -

There were times in this story when you seemed to add elements without thinking carefully enough about how they would affect the plot or reflect upon the characters, such as Galus's eye-trap for Mikuru, the Shadow Tribe Detector, the whole deal with there being only one school in El-Hazard, and so on. Pretty much the only moments that this story felt uneven were at those times.

Fortunately (while it might seem otherwise from the way my reviews were focused), such moments were pretty few and far between. The story was a good read, and one that I think most fans of either Haruhi or El-Hazard would enjoy. It is a positive addtion to fanfiction as a whole.

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1. Which character do you think I did the best job with?

It's a close running between Haruhi and Jinnai, but I think Jinnai edges out, as he's the one that had to go through the most changes for this fanfiction to work. Jinnai's and Haruhi's argument to try to "convert" the other was possibly the best passage in this whole story. You managed to turn Jinnai into a "good guy" of sorts while leaving his basic personality intact. Good work!

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2. Which character do you think I did the poorest job with?

If I had to pick one, I guess I'd unfortunately have to say Galus. While his erraticism was no doubt partly to do with your attempting to keep the readers guessing, when a character is TOO random, it simply becomes difficult to enjoy him at all.

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3. Which chapter/scene was your favorite?

As you might have guessed, the great Haruhi/Jinnai conquer the world MY way debate.

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4. Which chapter/scene was your least favorite?

Probably the Quest for Itsuki's Plant. The whole poisoned Itsuki thing seemed a little too much like filler so the good guys would have something to do.

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5. Which of the following sequel ideas do you like the best (keep in mind that some are mutually exclusive)?


Prequel: The Shinonome High of Haruhi Suzumiya - This would explore Haruhi Suzumiya's time at Shinonome High in the "original" time-line, eventually showing the journey to El Hazard half-way through. This one is compatible with all of the sequel options.

I'm not enormously excited about it, but it could be a cool story. I guess the biggest problem is that Haruki's summary sort of gave away all the "good parts" already.

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Sequel Option 1 - El Hazard's Finest - Focus' on SOS Man and Bugwoman; very comic booky; by far the most action-packed sequel based on my current ideas.

Sounds cute. Not my favorite among the options, but not bad.

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Sequel Option 2 - The Conquest of Katsuhiko Jinnai - Jinnai slips back into semi-villainy with a diabolical plot to militarily conquer El Hazard that he hopes will elude the notice of peace-loving Bugrom Queen Haruhi.

I don't like this one much. Sounds like it opens up a can of worms that would be tough to close again (just how often will the Alliance be expected to trust Jinnai). It COULD work, if Jinnai chose a target they hadn't made peace with but that Haruhi would undoubtedly WANT to make peace with - the remnants of the Shadow Tribe, perhaps?

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Sequel Option 3 - Haruhi Suzumiya's Return from El Hazard - This is the most... standard of the sequel options and will have many different subplots, trying to evenly balance out the El Hazard/Haruhi casts. Similar in style and tone to the fanfic I just finished here, but probably with significantly less action of the fighting sort.

Not bad. It's hard for me to imagine why Haruhi would WANT to return from El-Hazard, but it could well be that you have something in mind. Considering that this fanfiction was a good one, more of the same certainly doesn't sound bad at all.

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Sequel Option 4 - El Hazard's Lyrical Nanoha - This sequel would be told from the perspective of Nanoha Inverse, and hence she would be the big star, with Kyon a close second, and the Shadow Tribe a close third. It will be a homage to Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha.

Given how unbelievably cute I found the Kyon/Nanoha romance angle to be, I like this idea a lot. Kinda surprising from someone that objected so strenuously to the "crossover" in the first place, eh? That said, though, I'd think you'd want to be careful in how much of an homage you actually make this to Lyrical Nanoha. Nanoha Inverse worked best, I think, because she borrowed a few elements from her source material but still evolved into her own character. I think it'd be a mistake to re-tell Lyrical Nanoha in the El-Hazard setting, if that's your plan, but it's not a bad idea at all to tell a new story that evolves the character further while drawing upon some elements from Lyrical Nanoha.

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Tangent Story - The Adventures of Haruki Suzumiya-Jinnai - Loaded with original characters, scenes, and situations, though with some focus on Haruki's life growing up, and hence on his parents and the Bugrom Empire. Cameo appearances by most El Hazard/Haruhi Suzumiya characters. Would probably have something of a Dr. Who/Flash Gordon feel.

I'm definitely interested in learning who Haruki's rival is, so I think a story focusing on Haruki is definitely in order in some form!

So, there you have it. The story I'm most interested in is the Nanoha one, but the more-of-the-same option 3 would not be out of order, either. Given the way that the original story ended, the Haruki tangent would not be unwelcome, as well.
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« Reply #78 on: July 17, 2009, 06:21:55 PM »

Spanner - Your overall take on Chapter 20, and the story as a whole, was more or less what I had expected and hoped for. :)

...with one exception that I'll get to in a bit.

I want to thank you for all of your inspired advice. Clearly, you've been a fanfic writer and/or reader much longer and/or more frequently than I have, and as such, I've learned a lot from your constructive criticisms, and I appreciate that a lot.

I also appreciate you clarifying how you don't view a predictable ending as necessarily being a bad ending. That's good to know given how the fanfic ended.

On Prince Randorm - he actually showed up in the Chapter 17 peace negotiations; so Chapter 6 wasn't his only appearance. Also, there's a good chance I'll be using him more in future fanfics. :) He's actually based off of a cartoon character from the 80s that I liked a lot - King Randor from the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe cartoon. Not sure if you're familiar with that old cartoon or not.

One of the other people who gave me feedback on this story told me that he loved the bolding and italicizing that I gave to much of Jinnai's dialogue. However, he didn't seem to care all that much about it as it pertained to other characters.

With that in mind - would you be cool with a sequel where I continued the bolding and italicizing for Jinnai and Haruhi alone - cutting it out for all other dialogue and narration? Would you like that better you think?


Some scenes apparently came off better than I thought (such as Haruhi introducing Jinnai to Kyon, which I actually wrote just because I felt I needed to), while what I actually thought would be a very well-received final twist in how the person who set this story all in motion was the son of Haruhi and Jinnai didn't come off that well (although I now understand why).

As for your questions pertaining to Haruki...

1. He gave Itsuki and Yuki some basic background information on El Hazard - such as info on the most important places there. He also gave them info on his father. That was it, though. I get your points on how the son of Haruhi and Jinnai would certainly be a person who tended to thrown caution to the wind (since Haruhi and Jinnai are both, in their own respective ways, people who tend to throw caution to the wind - or, at the very least, Jinnai is "excitingly bold!" as Diva says).


2. I'm going to admit that I haven't decided yet who Haruki's arch-foe will be. It might be another offspring of one popular El Hazard character with another popular Haruhi character, or it might be an entirely original fan creation. I'm mostly wondering if I should make it a son or daughter of Makoto who goes terribly bad...


I'm very glad you liked the Kyon/Nanoha romance. :D

Strange that a romance that I put such little effort into came off better to you than the main overarching one of the entire story that I tried desperately to sell you on...


Speaking of that, I had sincerely hoped that Chapters 16 through 20 would lead to you fully accepting the Haruhi/Jinnai romance. The fact that you liked and accepted my argument that Haruhi and Jinnai were kindred spirits in wanting to change the world to suit their desires struck me as you saying that you might be prepared to buy into the romance between them.

The Chapter 16 argument between Haruhi and Jinnai is also your favorite section of the entire fanfic. You also feel that Haruhi and Jinnai were the two characters that I wrote the best through out the fanfic - and I thank you for that "extraordinarily well" compliment, by the way.

You yourself argued on this very thread that Jinnai's approach to Haruhi's power may pave the way to her gradually and safely coming into a full realization of it. You also agree that Kyon is to Haruhi what Groucho is to Jinnai - hence indicating agreement with yet another similarity between Haruhi and Jinnai (i.e. in how they treat close plutonic friends).

Here's something to consider: Haruhi and Jinnai quickly began to view each other as equals, for various reasons (Haruhi's intelligence and "cunning" in Jinnai's case; Jinnai's bold initiative and hero status amongst the bugrom in Haruhi's case). Viewing someone as an equal goes beyond how Haruhi and Jinnai even treat their closest plutonic friends - hence it could be argued that this represents an uniquely special relationship for each of them - which both of them would soon come to recognize upon reflection - which then naturally leads into a romance.


Within the fanfic itself, there was a lot of narration that I felt provided some strong reasons for why the Haruhi/Jinnai romance would work. This is especially true of Chapter 20. These reasons that I outlined through out the fanfic for why Haruhi/Jinnai would work - and work wonderfully, I think, honestly - were never really touched upon by you in either of your reviews. So... I'm not sure what to make of that. I mean, these are serious reasons, Spanner. I didn't just thoughtlessly take a male character I happened to like and throw him together with a female character I happened to like - there was a lot of consideration, rationale, and thought put behind my choice to go with a Haruhi/Jinnai romance.

I mean, given all of the above, I'm truly at a lost to understand why you still don't accept the Haruhi/Jinnai romance. It's not Haruhi/Fatora - it can't be Haruhi/Kyon because you're perfectly happy with Kyon/Nanoha, so...

Is it Jinnai/Diva? ???


Anyway, there is at least one more idea I have for selling the SOS Man/Bugwoman romance in a sequel - but it's kind of a nuclear solution that I'd rather not have to resort to. If I do resort to it, though, I think that even you would feel compelled to accept and buy into the Haruhi/Jinnai romance. ;)


Given that both the main overarching romance of the story, and the main villain of the last few chapters, didn't resonate with you, there was obviously no hope of this fanfic being even close to one of your favorites. All told, given that I failed to sell you on Haruhi/Jinnai, your response to the fanfic as a whole is the best I could hope for. In fact, I want to thank you for putting aside your skepticism over the central romance of this story in order to try to enjoy the story in general.  

One thing I want to reveal to you (I already revealed it to Rowan in chats) - the entire motivation behind this story was the popularity of a fandom within the Haruhi fandom known as gender-bended Haruhi - gender-bended Haruhi himself named "Haruki". ;)

This gender-bended fandom has become surprisingly huge on the internet, and made me think about which actual anime character is most like a male Haruhi Suzumiya.

I eventually came to the conclusion that the answer was Katsuhiko Jinnai, and hence this cross-over pairing struck me as a crack-ship on its face, but actually a very natural and fitting pairing once you dig deeper and resolve moral alignment (Haruhi's a protagonist; Jinnai's an antagonist) issues.

The idea of taking Katsuhiko Jinnai and a crack-ship involving him, and then making his reformation into a full-fledged protagonist both believable and enjoyable, and also making the crack-ship involving him believable and enjoyable, struck me as a very nice and bold challenge for me as a writer, and as a big Jinnai fan. The fact that I'm also a big Haruhi fan was simply icing on the cake. That was the main passion that fueled my writing here - accomplishing that challenge. Of course, I wanted the story as a whole to be good and enjoyable overall, but winning people over to the Haruhi/Jinnai romance, and the Jinnai-as-hero reformation, was my main goal.

So... I'm disappointed that I only accomplished half of my goal here. I've very glad that reformed Jinnai resonates with you, but am disappointment that the very romance that lead to the reformation didn't.

Oh well, as I said, I do have at least one significant trick left up my sleeve for a sequel.

I will be writing one, though I'm not sure when I will start it. I thank you for rounding down my six ideas to three. :)

Perhaps Rowan's further feedback will round it down even more.

Thanks for reading all of this fanfic, and reviewing it so thoroughly for me.

Two things that almost slipped my mind though - the YouTube trailer I made for the fanfic, and the Bugrom Queen Haruhi DeviantArt pic... did you like them? I actually ordered the DeviantArt commission based on your own enthusiasm over the idea of an image of Bugrom Queen Haruhi, as well as my own desire to see what such an image would look like if brought to life.

Have a good weekend! :)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2009, 07:35:53 AM by triple_r » Logged
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« Reply #79 on: July 19, 2009, 11:42:34 AM »

Quote
All of our disagreements aside, I now have a good read of what you like - for conclusions, at least, it seems that you prefer the neat and tidy cohesive approach with out any big plot twists at the end. If Spanner shares that sentiment, it'll give me a good idea of how to write any future El Hazard fanfic conclusions.


Heh, I'm actually somewhat erratic when it comes to my tastes in endings. I really liked OVA1's ending and how it brought everything "full circle" so to speak, but I also enjoyed the endings for the Big O and Neon Genesis Evangelion TV series, both of which raised more questions than they answered. In the case of this story here, the conclusion with Haruki felt flat to me for the reasons Spanner explained more coherently than I did in my previous post.

Characterization

Moderately good to very good. There were moments with Kyon, Nanami, and others where they felt off either in word choice or deed, but you treated the entire cast with respect and didn't demonize or caricature which happens disappointingly often in fan fiction. You also had some marvelous insights into Haruhi and Jinnai's characters.

Basic Enjoyment/Fun Factor

It was entertaining enough for me to read it through from start to finish, and you articulated some pretty interesting ideas and concepts. Certain issues I had with the story structure and characters prevent me from wholehearted excited over the tale, but it reminded me of why I am such a fan of El-Hazard and was a fun adventure to follow.

Plot Believability

The plot itself is fairly plausible, especially because investigating a rumor of missing students at Shinonome is exactly the kind of thing Haruhi would do and from there a trip to El-Hazard is virtually inevitable for Kyon, Koizumi, Yuki, and Mikuru. My criticism here is more with the believable execution OF the plot rather than the plot itself. As I've mentioned before, some of this story felt gimmicky and there were moments where it seemed the story was driving the characters more than the characters driving the story and in a manner that felt forced and artificial.

General Writing Quality

Decent. You know how to use proper grammar and spelling and create effective sentences, which is very important. Your writing style also conveyed the fun and exciting nature of your story which is a commendable accomplishment because it can be a sad thing when a good story is marred beyond enjoyment by poor writing. However, I also feel that your story was much stronger than the writing, and your occasional repetitive use of words and choice of words had me scratching my head at times. So...you have the basics down but there's still room for improvement.

OVERALL

1. Probably either Jinnai or Haruhi. You really seemed to have their characters and mannerisms down quite well.

2. Ura! ^_^V
Heh, more seriously, I'd probably say Nanami in the beginning for the same reasons Spanner has adumbrated.

3. If I had to choose a favorite scene, it would probably be when Haruhi, Mikuru, and Kyon were all reunited in Florestica. You did a great job with those characters and their friendship there and really showed Kyon at his best and most understanding.

4. My least favorite scene might have been when the Priestesses, Makoto, and other heroes stormed Galus's base. Between the Phantom Scope and the other issues I had with the encounter, I felt it wasn't handled well.

5.
Prequel - My thoughts on this is why bother? The outcome is largely the same whether you write it or not and rewriting both El-Hazard: The Magnificent World and The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi with new characters could be a massive and difficult project.

Sequel Option 1 - As you might have guessed, I'm a bigger fan of Jinnai and Haruhi than I am of their alternate personas. I found SOS Man and Bugwoman amusing in this tale because they were complements rather than the center of attention, and an entire comic book themed story starring these two doesn't excite me much. However, you are also much fonder of the comic book style in this setting than I am so if this is what you feel passionate about writing go ahead. I would say it might work better as a one-shot than another 20 chapter story though.

Sequel Option 2 - Sounds like it could be entertaining, though again I feel it might work better as a one-shot or shorter multi-chapter story than another lengthy tale like this.

Sequel Option 3 - I agree with Spanner on this. Depending on what ideas you have, you could do a fair amount here. And even if Haruhi and Jinnai aren't interested in returning to Earth, I imagine Kyon is (even if he isn't concerned about his little sister, he probably at the very least wants to let her know that he's fine. He wouldn't be a very good big brother if he wasn't even slightly worried what effect his long term absence might have on her). And you could try to do a split feature, with Kyon and Nanoha on one hand and Haruhi and Jinnai on the other having their seemingly separate adventures on Earth and El-Hazard that somehow tie into each other in the end. I also see more obvious opportunities to focus on the extended cast rather than a few key characters in this proposal.

Sequel Option 4 - Again, I think this would work better as a humorous one-short or shorter multi-chapter story. The idea is kind of cute and has a lot of potential for fun, but I'm not really sure what else it would bring to the tale and the fine line between a homage to Lyrical Nanoha in the El-Hazard setting and a pseudo-crossover could be hard to walk.    

Tangent - The potential issue with this one is the extensive use of original characters. Original characters in main character roles pose unique challenges, particularly in terms of capturing reader interest. In my own case, I liked your portrayal of Haruki but I'm not sure how keen I'd be to read an entire story starring him. If you want to continue to use him, he might work better in a supporting role in one of your other sequel/prequel concepts.

These are just my opinions, though, and you've surprised me before so I could be quite wrong in my speculation.

Anyway, once again thanks for sharing and sticking with this. It's better than a lot of fan fiction that I've read and was, overall, fairly enjoyable.  
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 11:44:36 AM by rowan_a._seven » Logged
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« Reply #80 on: July 19, 2009, 06:19:56 PM »

Quote



General Writing Quality

Decent. You know how to use proper grammar and spelling and create effective sentences, which is very important. Your writing style also conveyed the fun and exciting nature of your story which is a commendable accomplishment because it can be a sad thing when a good story is marred beyond enjoyment by poor writing. However, I also feel that your story was much stronger than the writing, and your occasional repetitive use of words and choice of words had me scratching my head at times. So...you have the basics down but there's still room for improvement.



Ouch

I know that I'm not a professional writer or even close to that level of refinement, but I honestly have to say that when I've had previous fanfics reviewed in the past, I got much more positive feedback for general writing quality than this.

I also don't know what to make of this - in your review for Chapter 7 you talked about liking my dialogue, but that I was a bit too wordy.

And now... my writing (and hence dialogue) is just decent and I'm not wordy enough? ???

When I think "decent", I think "bare pass" - like a D- in school. Also, the quality chain tends to go from...

Decent to Pretty Good to Good to Very Good to Excellent

Overall, I interpret your feedback as...

B-/C+, B, B, and D-  

Not exactly my idea of a good report card.
^^;

It's also a bit worrisome in that I spent a great deal of time making use of an on-line thesaurus while writing this to help ensure that my word choice was not repetitive.

At some level, I almost feel like I'm being damned with feint praise here. Your feedback for the story as a whole is certainly far less enthusiastic than it was for earlier chapters... or really, anything up to Chapter 12.

It makes me wonder if you (and perhaps Spanner as well) felt that the story was simply too long for its own good. If so, I certainly made the right choice in not dragging out the quest for Itsuki's plant/showing the Bugrom Empire conquering nation after nation before Haruhi FINALLY learned the truth.


Big thanks for taking the time to provide additional feedback, in any event.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 06:51:07 PM by triple_r » Logged
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« Reply #81 on: July 19, 2009, 08:13:08 PM »

Sorry about that. I didn't intend to come across so harshly, and rereading my post I do sound more condescending than I expected. What I meant by decent is that your writing is on par with what I expect from fan fiction I'm willing to read. It's not great, it's not bad, but it gets the job done with some particularly good spots here and there and it's definitely better than "barely passing" as you put it. And I do like your dialogue. It's one of the story's greatest strengths. The descriptive writing, on the other hand, isn't as good in my opinion and parts of your writing style came across as somewhat rough to me, which is why the overall mark is more mixed.

As for why my story review seems less enthusiastic than my chapter reviews, I tried (perhaps too hard) to step back, dampen my excitement, and focus more on technical merits.  And when I attempt to be seriously analytical, I often come across as restrained and understated because I'm using a higher standard.  Personally, I think this is a pretty good story and you did a good job telling it.  It's not on my top 10 list, but I enjoyed reading it and it has some notably creative ideas.  My critical feedback was meant to be constructive, and if I focused  more on the negatives than on the positives in my last post it's because I've already largely told you what I liked in the chapter reviews and didn't see the need to repeat myself.    
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« Reply #82 on: July 19, 2009, 09:20:25 PM »

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Sorry about that. I didn't intend to come across so harshly, and rereading my post I do sound more condescending than I expected. What I meant by decent is that your writing is on par with what I expect from fan fiction I'm willing to read. It's not great, it's not bad, but it gets the job done with some particularly good spots here and there and it's definitely better than "barely passing" as you put it. And I do like your dialogue. It's one of the story's greatest strengths. The descriptive writing, on the other hand, isn't as good in my opinion and parts of your writing style came across as somewhat rough to me, which is why the overall mark is more mixed.

As for why my story review seems less enthusiastic than my chapter reviews, I tried (perhaps too hard) to step back, dampen my excitement, and focus more on technical merits.  And when I attempt to be seriously analytical, I often come across as restrained and understated because I'm using a higher standard.  Personally, I think this is a pretty good story and you did a good job telling it.  It's not on my top 10 list, but I enjoyed reading it and it has some notably creative ideas.  My critical feedback was meant to be constructive, and if I focused  more on the negatives than on the positives in my last post it's because I've already largely told you what I liked in the chapter reviews and didn't see the need to repeat myself.    



I'm probably going to drop Kyon narration for the sequel.

I thought that it added to this fanfic - and, in fact, there were moments when I hoped that the Kyon narration, along with my handling of Haruhi and Jinnai, would make this fanfic a memorable top 10 classic for both you and Spanner... but in retrospect, the Kyon narration probably took away from it.

For one, it was simply impossible to do 20 chapters of consistently whiney narration voice, while also keeping the fanfic energetic and exciting - simply put, a whiney narration voice would ruin the mood for a lot of scenes in this fanfic. For Spanner, this perhaps translated to Kyon not being whiney enough.

For two, Kyon narration limited what I could do with descriptive writing - if I had went into highly detailed descriptive writing with a Kyon narration voice it would have been a case of Kyon being wildly out of character, I felt. Hence, given how familiar you are with El Hazard, I kind of hoped that your own imagination and memory of the anime would smoothly fill in the gaps for you and make lack of descriptive writing a non-factor. I guess it didn't. So for you, Rowan, this translated to the descriptive writing not being what you wanted.

So, you see, I hope, the Catch-22 that having a Kyon narration voice put me into. It works in the Haruhi anime because you have the animation visuals and hence Kyon narration is simply plot exposition - but with a fanfic, it's a major task since the role of 'descriptive writing' falls to narrator Kyon.

It's regrettable because I usually enjoyed using the Kyon narration voice - I thought that it would be a lot of fun, and make this fanfic really stand out in a good way for you and Spanner -  but in reading the constructive criticisms of both you and Spanner, I can see that it weakened this fanfic for both of you.

Oh well.

Apology accepted, anyway. :)
« Last Edit: July 19, 2009, 09:23:54 PM by triple_r » Logged
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« Reply #83 on: July 20, 2009, 03:05:58 PM »

Ah, I think I've confused you a bit with my support of several aspects of the Jinnai/Haruhi romance while simultaneously refusing the accept the romance as a valid one as a whole. Let me see if I can articulate it a bit better. Also remember that a whole lot of this is driven by my own personal opinions on the characters personalities and backgrounds, and my personal opinions on romance in general. Just because I don't buy it doesn't mean it's wrong.

Probably what I consider to be the core of the problem is something that you seem to feel is actually one of the greatest STRENGTHS of the relationship: Haruhi and Jinnai consider each other to be equals. It is my feeling that one of the defining aspects of both characters is that they have no equals - and that if they find someone that they see with the potential to be an equal, the one and ONLY recourse is a rivalry to firmly establish which of the two is better than the other.

Jinnai MUST be at the top. He may be, in theory, Queen Diva's general, but I don't think there's any doubt in his mind (or the mind of the audience, for that matter) that he's the one really in charge. If Queen Diva were ever to seriously oppose him, he'd find some way to force her to change her mind, or simply find some other way to prove his ultimate superiority that doens't involve using the Bugrom as a tool.

Haruhi MUST be at the top. She's the Brigade Chief, and as much as she says that she wants to find and befriend time travelers, aliens, espers, and sliders, I have little doubt that if she ever managed it, SHE would be choosing the games they play, setting the events they attend, etc., etc.

In both cases, it's hard for me to imagine them in a romantic pairing in which they are not "wearing the pants", as it were. I feel that for a romance to bloom with one of these characters as a member, the other member would need to be the sort who quietly supports them, not someone who calls the shots. Haruhi or Jinnai would certainly acquiesce to the wishes of their partner from time to time, but because they choose to please their partner, not because they believe their partner has an equal place in the decision-making process.

It is my feeling that, if Haruhi and Jinnai were placed into a situation like the one you constructed for this story, each of them would chafe more and more as each attempted to assert their own will. Eventually, one or the other (or both) would blow up, and they'd go their seperate ways.

It seems that you felt the same way, at least to a degree, as you built up their relationship on a series of misunderstandings. Haruhi had no idea that Jinnai was a megalomaniac who's machinations had cost countless lives, and Jinnai had no idea that Haruhi had any problem with that kind of lifestyle. Afterwards, when they finally DID have their confrontation and blow-up, the fact that they were already in love, using that was a good excuse for why they didn't just go their seperate ways.

However, I just don't feel that the love should have developed as far as it did without Jinnai and Haruhi "testing the waters", so to speak, for dominance - and as soon as both members realized that a vy for power was on the table, things should have gotten ugly.

Basically, one or both characters needed to change some fundamental aspects of their characters in order for the romance to work. In this case, I felt it was Jinnai that got "nerfed", as it were. By the end of the story, it was pretty clear that Haruhi was the one that was going to get her way. He wants to kill Makoto, she doesn't want that, Makoto lives. He wants world conquest, she wants to form a club, they form a club. While Haruhi was willing to make some concessions for Jinnai's benefit, she's definitely the one calling she shots. I just can't put myself in a mindset that's able to accept this as a valid development of Jinnai's character, any more than I would have been able to accept a Haruhi that was content to sit back and let Jinnai continue his rampage.

Kyon/Haruhi works because it's easy to imagine Kyon pretty much letting Haruhi have her way, stepping in only when he feels she's gone too far, and her listening to him only because she cares for him and doesn't want to upset him. That's more or less exactly the relationship they have already, to be honest, just without any open declartions of love. XD He's clearly the passive member of their relationship and she the dominant.

It's also a reason why Haruhi/Fatora would never seriously work as a relationship, in spite of all our joking. Neither Fatora nor Haruhi could possibly tolerate a partner as determined to have their own way all the time as the other.

Well... to be fair, I'm throwing around words like "never" awfully freely. My difficulties with the pairing work under the assumption that I know every aspect of the characters involved, which, naturally, can't be true, as there's no way for one person to know another completely. For instance, one of the steps you took to make Jinnai a valid partner for Haruhi was to assert that he'd taken the path of a villain because he felt that taking the role of a villian was the only way he'd be able to properly defeat Makoto. I tend to feel that Jinnai chose that path because it was a convenient one that had been offered to him, and that defeating Makoto was simply one of many goals he had in his desire to acquire power. Both views of his character are valid ones, given what we've seen of him from the anime.

To sum up, I don't feel that Haruhi or Jinnai would ever be satisfied in a relationship with an equal partner; they would each continually attempt to assert dominance, and that would spoil any attempt to actually remain together.

Don't take this to mean, by the way, that I believe that all couples require a dominant and submissive pairing. I just feel that these particular characters have a drive to remain on top that would prevent that kind of equality in a relationship.

Anyway, the reason that I can be so dead-set against the pairing and still provide positive feed back on many of their interactions basically has to do with suspension of disbelief. I was not convinced that the progression you showed us actually would have lead to a romantic pairing, but I was still able to evaluate subsequent scenes AS THOUGH they had been enough. Essentially, I approached scenes like this: "If we were to assume that Jinnai was in love with Haruhi for some reason, is this how he'd come to her rescue?" or "If we were to assume that Jinnai was in love with Haruhi for some reason, is this how he'd react to the S.O.S. Man costume?"

Essentially, I was able to give positive comments about their characterization during their romance by ignoring the fact that I was totally unconvinced that the romance could ever form. Basically, they're in love, deal with it, now is this how they would behave if they were in love?

I will admit that of all the possible paths you could have taken to establish their loving relationship, the one you took is the closest I can think of to something that has a remote chance of working. In the beginning, they were able to get close to one another because each had a thorough enough misunderstanding of the other that each believed that they were the ones in charge - or at the very least, that the other was no threat to their authority. This allowed them to become close in ways that no straight-up rivalry would have allowed.

To end things off, I'd like to mention that I was a bit bemused at one of the things you mentioned about your reasons for attempting this story: That Jinnai was pretty much a male equivalent to Haruhi. While I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment, I disagree with the sentiment that this would make them a natural pairing. Characters - or even real people - that are too much alike rarely make for good couples. It's better if a couple has a variety of traits between them - they should have personalities that complement one another, not exactly match.

By the way, I also am familiar with the "cross-gender" phenominon associated with Haruhi fandom, and instantly recognized Haruki as likely being modeled after the male version of Haruhi. I'll admit I'm a bit cynical about the whole deal; to me, it smacks of the Japanese fans being dissatisfied with seeing the male lead with such a "womanly" submissive personality and taking as much crap as he does from a woman - so they inverted everything so that Kyonko was in the "proper" role. I might be blowing things out of perspective, though. :P And, as cynical as I might be, I do enjoy seeing fanworks that use the cross-gender concept, so it's not exactly something that offends me.
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« Reply #84 on: July 20, 2009, 03:10:33 PM »

Oh, one other thing: Kyon narration. I have to admit, Kyon narration works best when ALL of the scenes are ones that Kyon is personally present for. In the novels and even the anime, pretty much nothing is described that Kyon isn't personally there to witness. In this story, a great deal of stuff happens that is outside of Kyon's ability to percieve (like Galus and Nahato's plotting), and while most of it is stuff that he could have been told about later, it's still a little awkward.

I have to agree that it might be best to drop the Kyon narritive, if you're going to be covering the activites of a large cast that are frequently split apart from each other.

Honestly, I think that's the bigger problem here, than Kyon not maintaining a proper level of "snarkiness". :)

And I completely missed that you asked for my opinions on the YouTube trailer and the Haruhi Bugrom Queen pic. I enjoyed the trailer all right; I thought it was well done. I'm afraid I don't really have any specific comments to share on it. I loved the Bugrom Haruhi pic, but I'll have to admit that I was kind of hoping to see Haruhi in a similar getup to Queen Diva, rather than in her school uniform. ;D Still, it was cute enough seeing her with antennae.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2009, 03:14:31 PM by spanner » Logged

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« Reply #85 on: July 20, 2009, 05:30:03 PM »

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Probably what I consider to be the core of the problem is something that you seem to feel is actually one of the greatest STRENGTHS of the relationship: Haruhi and Jinnai consider each other to be equals. It is my feeling that one of the defining aspects of both characters is that they have no equals - and that if they find someone that they see with the potential to be an equal, the one and ONLY recourse is a rivalry to firmly establish which of the two is better than the other.



I agree with this to a point. I don't think that either Haruhi or Jinnai could be happy in a romance where their partner had them matched or beat in every noticeable area - they each need to have room, so to speak, in having their own unquestioned area of command and expertise.

I think that with Haruhi she actually takes comfort in the fact that Jinnai is physically out of shape (at least relative to her) - it makes her athleticism an edge on him so that she feels that she can hold that over her boyfriend. Also, Jinnai acquiesces to Haruhi's playfulness (Mikuru being the Bugrom's moe mascot, most notably) because he doesn't care about it either way - but for Haruhi this is important in how Jinnai is... giving her room to breath, be herself, and command within her area of expertise.

I think that with Jinnai, he takes comfort in the fact that Haruhi is not his match in military tactics - her failure to notice the Itsuki-is-being-tortured trap when he noticed it quickly comforts him somewhat in retrospect, letting him know that he has an edge that he can hold over his girlfriend. And here, Haruhi acquiescing to letting Jinnai handle the planning out of the military operation to rescue Itsuki gives Jinnai room to breath, be himself, and command within his area of expertise.

So, here, Haruhi and Jinnai view in the other an equal that commands their respect, and an equal that they see much of himself/herself in, causing some admiration given their own egos (Jinnai saying how Haruhi takes after his own heart, while Haruhi loves how Jinnai likes adventuring - and he does, in a sense - just like she does). BUT each holds an important trump card over the other enabling both to feel comfortable in a relationship that is equal on the whole... but in which power shifts from one to the other depending on who's expertise is called upon.


If Haruhi's main strength was military tactics, or if Jinnai's main strength was athleticism or running school clubs, I'd agree with you - their romance would feel suffocating to each other and both would hate how they didn't hold anything over the other one. But since both are willing to admit the particular areas where the other one is better than him or her...

So, a big key for me in any sequels, I feel, is providing situations where Jinnai's skill set (military tactics - or something that can borrow off of that) has opportunities to be used. Or, perhaps, Jinnai gives a lot of speeches, where he arguably has Haruhi edged out (not that she's bad at speeches... but I like to view Jinnai as an excellent orator).


Quote


In both cases, it's hard for me to imagine them in a romantic pairing in which they are not "wearing the pants", as it were. I feel that for a romance to bloom with one of these characters as a member, the other member would need to be the sort who quietly supports them, not someone who calls the shots. Haruhi or Jinnai would certainly acquiesce to the wishes of their partner from time to time, but because they choose to please their partner, not because they believe their partner has an equal place in the decision-making process.


Here, again, I think that both are willing to admit where the other is superior to him or her... largely because they don't really care about that area (but to humor the other, they won't say that).

Haruhi probably couldn't care less how good she is at military tactics or planning military operations... but Jinnai cares, so she'll humor him there.

Jinnai probably couldn't care less how good he is at running clubs based on anime tropes like 'moe mascot'... but Haruhi cares, so he'll humor her there.

See what I'm saying?


I will say that Haruhi, simply because of the Bugrom Empire chain of command, has the overall edge on Jinnai. But, I actually feel that this is fitting, for a reason I'll get to later on...


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It is my feeling that, if Haruhi and Jinnai were placed into a situation like the one you constructed for this story, each of them would chafe more and more as each attempted to assert their own will. Eventually, one or the other (or both) would blow up, and they'd go their seperate ways.  


Well, the two were (as far as they could tell) in complete agreement up until Haruhi endured the big reveal. Aside from enduring the SOS Man costume, Jinnai really wasn't knowingly at odds with Haruhi on anything. And, because of what Diva said to Haruhi about the proper relationship between Bugrom Queen and Supreme Commander, Haruhi let Jinnai pretty much run the show as it pertained to "converting" Gannan over to the SOS Brigade.

The "Haruhi determines the ends/Jinnai determines the means" set up provided by Diva is going to come in handy as a means of compromise between the two of them; it'll be reinforced by Groucho and the other bugrom as well.

<Haruhi... you really should let the boss call the shots here; this is HIS role as Supreme Commander after all.>

<Boss... it's the role of the Bugrom Queen to chart the broader vision for the Empire; you know that!>


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It seems that you felt the same way, at least to a degree, as you built up their relationship on a series of misunderstandings.


Yes. The facade of agreement had to be there to avoid chaffing until they had fallen in love with each other.

THEN once they learn the truth about each other, they have a natural inner desire to make their romance and friendship work anyway.


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 However, I just don't feel that the love should have developed as far as it did without Jinnai and Haruhi "testing the waters", so to speak, for dominance - and as soon as both members realized that a vy for power was on the table, things should have gotten ugly.


I guess that this is the crux of our disagreement on the pairing. I don't think that Jinnai and Haruhi take their desire for dominance THAT far... where they would "test the waters" for dominance when they both had every reason to believe that the other one was in almost complete agreement with him or her anyway.

At some level, I think that they would shrug their shoulders and think...

Jinnai: This is perfect! I have found an equal worthy of my respect... but I need not ensure my dominance over this equal since she agrees with me all the time anyway... except on this SOS Man business which is fairly inconsequential to my broader plans. What a perfect ally I have in Haruhi Suzumiya! Indeed, she may be the perfect girlfriend for me as well - a girlfriend far greater than any girl that the accursed Makoto could manage to attract!


Haruhi: This totally rocks! I have found a really extraordinary guy that is beloved by an entire alien empire, an intellectual equal, and worthy of my respect! He is perhaps even my equal... Normally, I'd feel challenged by that, but we think alike so much that I'm effectively calling the shots anyway! I get to have my cake and eat it too! What a great friend and new SOS Brigade member I have here! In fact, he might make a nice boyfriend...


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Basically, one or both characters needed to change some fundamental aspects of their characters in order for the romance to work. In this case, I felt it was Jinnai that got "nerfed", as it were.  


Jinnai's character didn't change so much as he was simply dealt a difficult hand, and had to choose what to do with it - stay imprisoned for life, or 'give in' to the woman that he had come to love and hence at least get to have some small measure of glory by successfully running the mission to save her.

Don't think that Jinnai has been emasculated here - he hasn't. I intend to write the Haruhi/Jinnai relationship (in the sequel) as a continuing give-and-take where the role of "pants wearer" shifts back and forth given circumstances and area of expertise. Over time, I intend for the relationship to take an edge off of both characters, as they learn that they can be happy in an equal partnership.


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By the end of the story, it was pretty clear that Haruhi was the one that was going to get her way. He wants to kill Makoto, she doesn't want that, Makoto lives. He wants world conquest, she wants to form a club, they form a club. While Haruhi was willing to make some concessions for Jinnai's benefit, she's definitely the one calling she shots. I just can't put myself in a mindset that's able to accept this as a valid development of Jinnai's character, any more than I would have been able to accept a Haruhi that was content to sit back and let Jinnai continue his rampage.


Aside from what I wrote about how circumstances simply forced Jinnai to make a hard choice - at some level, I think it makes more sense for Jinnai to bend a bit more than Haruhi.

The reason being is that, at a superficial level, Haruhi's "the better catch", if you will, than he is.

Jinnai's appearance is not ugly, certainly, but he's not presented as someone that women flock to.  

OTOH, Haruhi is presented as someone that even the likes of Tamiguchi (Sp? - Kyon's friend) considers athletic, cute, and intelligent - a great girlfriend on simply these superficial measures.

Jinnai is still a man and is not oblivious to Haruhi's beauty and positive qualities as a girlfriend - whereas for Haruhi, the attraction to Jinnai I think will have to be rooted in her appreciation for his intelligence, his style, his personal flare moreso than superficial factors, since Jinnai is not presented as magnetically handsome or as athletic. His attention to personal grooming is probably pleasing to Haruhi, but that's his main appeal on a superficial level.

I just have to think that even Jinnai is going to see a great cute girlfriend as a great cute girlfriend - someone to be cherished, at some level. It also helps that Jinnai can hold Haruhi over Makoto's head as a reason for his superiority over Makoto (which I intend to show in a scene or two in the sequel).

Really, for me, Jinnai's the big winner in my fanfic - he gets a great girlfriend out of the deal, and a revived Bugrom Empire, and new friends (Mikuru - and later on, other SOS Brigade members possibly).


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Kyon/Haruhi works because it's easy to imagine Kyon pretty much letting Haruhi have her way, stepping in only when he feels she's gone too far, and her listening to him only because she cares for him and doesn't want to upset him. That's more or less exactly the relationship they have already, to be honest, just without any open declartions of love. XD He's clearly the passive member of their relationship and she the dominant.  


Personally, I don't think that Haruhi/Kyon works. I'm not a fan of the pairing.

Also, speaking seriously here, and from my time studying human psychology in College... a thoroughly dominant/submissive relationship is not a healthy one. This is one of my main problems with the Haruhi/Kyon relationship - that, along with how I don't get any romance vibe whatsoever coming off of Haruhi and towards Kyon. Frankly, I really do think that Haruhi sees Kyon precisely the same way that Jinnai sees Groucho - a nice submissive subordinate/friend (almost a pet) to have around. That's really not a good basis for a life-long romantic partnership, in my mind. It's just as bad when the guy is always submissive as it is when the gal is always submissive, in my mind. Both can lead to abusive relationships.


Jinnai's personality is dominant enough that it'll force Haruhi to learn valuable social skills like compromising, power sharing, and so on. It'll make her a better person. Haruhi, of course, is already having this beneficial effect on Jinnai.

Haruhi and Jinnai both need each other to learn how to be more well-rounded human beings, really.

Keep in mind that Haruhi and Jinnai are not even adults yet - it's still quite believable for them to change and mature as they grow into adults, just like teenagers typically do.


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Well... to be fair, I'm throwing around words like "never" awfully freely. My difficulties with the pairing work under the assumption that I know every aspect of the characters involved, which, naturally, can't be true, as there's no way for one person to know another completely. For instance, one of the steps you took to make Jinnai a valid partner for Haruhi was to assert that he'd taken the path of a villain because he felt that taking the role of a villian was the only way he'd be able to properly defeat Makoto. I tend to feel that Jinnai chose that path because it was a convenient one that had been offered to him, and that defeating Makoto was simply one of many goals he had in his desire to acquire power. Both views of his character are valid ones, given what we've seen of him from the anime.


Well, Jinnai became villainous the moment he tried to strangle Makoto with rope before they even went to El Hazard. I will say that Jinnai wants personal glory over and above any obsession with Makoto - it's just that Makoto means that he tries to achieve that obsession through a road of villainy instead of through a road of heroism.

Although, Haruhi is changing that.


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To sum up, I don't feel that Haruhi or Jinnai would ever be satisfied in a relationship with an equal partner; they would each continually attempt to assert dominance, and that would spoil any attempt to actually remain together.


Or, conversely, this would lead to both growing as characters and human beings (well, as a human-esque bugrom, in Haruhi's case).

Rowan said something way back in one of his earlier chapter reviews that resonated with me - he wondered if Haruhi and Jinnai would have a positive, or negative, effect on each other... as both do have their good sides. And I think that they're bringing out positive effects in each other.

One thing I should point out - it's possible that even the writer of the Haruhi novels is thinking how I'm thinking, as Season 2 Haruhi already seems to have an edge taken off of her vis a vis Season 1 Haruhi. She actively welcomes input from other Brigade members on what they'd like to do, and takes them up on it.


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Don't take this to mean, by the way, that I believe that all couples require a dominant and submissive pairing. I just feel that these particular characters have a drive to remain on top that would prevent that kind of equality in a relationship.


I would argue that any healthy, successful romantic relationship would have to have some degree of equality within it. So, quite the contrary - a romance involving Jinnai and/or Haruhi should have some equality within it just as any romance should.  

Also, I think that Jinnai, at least, strives for personal glory moreso than to constantly be on top, per se. So if Haruhi's methods give Jinnai the personal glory that he desires...


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Anyway, the reason that I can be so dead-set against the pairing and still provide positive feed back on many of their interactions basically has to do with suspension of disbelief. I was not convinced that the progression you showed us actually would have lead to a romantic pairing, but I was still able to evaluate subsequent scenes AS THOUGH they had been enough. Essentially, I approached scenes like this: "If we were to assume that Jinnai was in love with Haruhi for some reason, is this how he'd come to her rescue?" or "If we were to assume that Jinnai was in love with Haruhi for some reason, is this how he'd react to the S.O.S. Man costume?"

Essentially, I was able to give positive comments about their characterization during their romance by ignoring the fact that I was totally unconvinced that the romance could ever form. Basically, they're in love, deal with it, now is this how they would behave if they were in love?


I see what you're saying here.


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I will admit that of all the possible paths you could have taken to establish their loving relationship, the one you took is the closest I can think of to something that has a remote chance of working. In the beginning, they were able to get close to one another because each had a thorough enough misunderstanding of the other that each believed that they were the ones in charge - or at the very least, that the other was no threat to their authority. This allowed them to become close in ways that no straight-up rivalry would have allowed.

To end things off, I'd like to mention that I was a bit bemused at one of the things you mentioned about your reasons for attempting this story: That Jinnai was pretty much a male equivalent to Haruhi. While I agree wholeheartedly with this assessment, I disagree with the sentiment that this would make them a natural pairing. Characters - or even real people - that are too much alike rarely make for good couples. It's better if a couple has a variety of traits between them - they should have personalities that complement one another, not exactly match.


Again... and with all due respect... my studies in human psychology have told me differently. Oh, it's good to have complimentary skill sets - like how Jinnai's skill set is different from Haruhi's... but when it comes to personality types, "birds of a feather flock together" wins out over "opposites attract".

Every psychology professor that I have had has stressed this when discussing human relationships, and human romances - straight people tend to be attracted to those of the opposite gender who are like an opposite gender version of themselves.

At some level, I think that Kyon's submissiveness is a turn-off to Haruhi - I think that she perceives it as weakness; convenient weakness for her, but weakness nonetheless. Actually, what would make me buy into Haruhi/Kyon is if Kyon would effectively stand up to her at some point (perhaps in stopping Haruhi's abuse of Mikuru once and for all, for example), hence earning Haruhi's respect.

I really think that Haruhi would want HER boyfriend to be someone strong, passionate, with bold initiative like she has - someone that she could respect. And I think that Jinnai would need to see this in HIS girlfriend, as well. For Haruhi and Jinnai, I think that they would see their romantic partner as an extension of themselves, and a reflection on themselves.

I don't see Haruhi or Jinnai wanting a romantic partner that they couldn't respect... and, as such, I think that seeing such a romantic partner as an equal is partly what would make such a romantic partner alluring to either of them.


Very nice, riveting discussion with you, Spanner, even if we do disagree. :)

I'm going to share my nuclear solution idea with you via PMs to see what you think of it. If it would make the Haruhi/Jinnai romance more acceptable to you, then it would be worth it, I think.

I'm actually not a big fan of gender-bended Haruhi myself, for many of the same reasons as you aren't. I just found the concept of a male Haruhi interesting; mostly for comparison purposes with actual anime characters.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2009, 10:32:48 AM by triple_r » Logged
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« Reply #86 on: July 22, 2009, 10:32:15 AM »

A couple things I wanted to add after thinking about it a bit more.

1) I want to be clear that I don't dislike Kyon. His cynicism, for me, goes back and forth between humorous and annoying (annoying when it feels too cynical to me), but it's more often humorous than annoying. And, for the most part, I definitely think that he's a good decent guy.

Actually, the second major relationship dynamic I was going for in this fanfic (after Haruhi/Jinnai) was Kyon/Makoto (this one plutonic; I don't see either of these two as gay) - I see Kyon and Makoto as flip sides of the same coin; I think that both share very similar moral values and personal drives, but that Kyon is the eternal pessimist to Makoto's eternal optimist.

I also like Kyon/Nanoha in my own fanfic as well - because I've molded Nanoha into being what, in my mind, is the ideal girlfriend for Kyon - someone who wants to be upbeat, but who is a bit soft emotionally and could use words of encouragement from time to time. Someone stronger than the overly weak Mikuru Asahina, but someone a bit weaker than the very strong Nanoha Takamachi

Kyon's natural caring instinct provides words of encouragement... which uplifts Nanoha Inverse... which then makes Nanoha upbeat to the point that even Kyon is uplifted by it himself... or humorously embarrassed (depending on if I want to play the scene for cute comedy or touching romance ;) ).

Kyon's natural caring instinct is almost wasted on Haruhi, who so rarely needs softer words of encouragement. Haruhi, I think, just needs someone to revel in over-the-top bold zealous determination and optimism with.


2) I think that your argument, Spanner, applies to Haruhi and Jinnai as far as close plutonic friendships are concerned. In other words, I don't think that either Haruhi or Jinnai could be a close plutonic friend with someone that either considered an equal. I think that both like to boss plutonic friends around.

But a romance takes it to a different level for both of them, in my mind - I think that with an outright romance, both would be looking for someone "worthy"; someone deserving of the great honor of being Haruhi's boyfriend or Jinnai's girlfriend. Someone at least close to an equal, if not a complete equal.

Someone they could point to and say "Behold my awesome girlfriend/boyfriend!".  

Actually, one argument I could make for why Haruhi and Jinnai only waited a few days to make romantic feelings known to one another is because both felt that the other was ill-suited for plutonic friendship (too equal for that ) ... but was perfectly suited for a romantic partner.
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