Disclaimer: This is Botan's, which is not mine, and definitely not Takahashi's.
"The best storytellers on earth, child, they've all stayed semi-furious defending something, expecting something—expecting something better."
--Allan Gurganus, Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All
8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
Chapter one of "The Pearl" was read to me over the phone one long winter night when I probably should have been doing my homework. My best friend had graduated in December, leaving me more or less alone in the dorm for what I anticipated to be a long spring semester. Said friend, to her credit, was pretty conscientious about calling every night to check in, however, and this particular night she wanted some feedback on a new idea for a fanfic.
So I sat back and tried to concentrate as I let myself be drawn into a world of court intrigue and shady alliances where the threat of a shadowy assassin had placed the futures of empires in jeopardy. And at the end of the chapter the bombshell dropped: "It's good to have you home, Rin."
What a time it has been. Helping to bring this story into existence has been an amazingly absorbing experience. I have listened to advance chapters, asked questions, made suggestions, ruthlessly tracked down plot-holes, prevented violence toward horses, cracked jokes that ended up being taken seriously, and deleted SCORES AND SCORES OF COMMAS. OH, THE COMMAS.
In spite of my long and celebrated association with asiancherries, this was my first time functioning as a quasi-official beta. Before I had been more of a captive audience. The first fanfiction of hers ever shoved under my nose was the death-fic "His" which I read, believe it or not, before I had seen a single episode of Inuyasha or indeed even knew such a thing as Inuyasha existed. I tried to wrap my mind around the mythology of dog demons and resurrected human wards and at the end of it I had my first question all ready:
"Does it really have to be this violent?"
"Yes, it does."
Of course, after I had seen my first episode of Inuyasha around October of 2004, I had to agree.
I adore Inuyasha in both its manga and anime forms and I am grateful asiancherries was undeterred by the legions of rolled eyes and derisive snorts hurled in her direction once she decided I needed an education in Inuyasha: Sengoku o togi zoushi. Who would ever have thought a cartoon could be so utterly captivating?
Of course as an English major I am a sucker for epics. To me Inuyasha is alive with all of the things that we have to struggle with in our own lives. It is about self-identity, and searching, and loneliness, and loss, and forgiveness, and love. It's about coming to terms with the aching unfairness of life and daring to try again in spite of everything. We write fanfiction because we want to take the things we know and add them to the puzzle. We want to express our own dreams and heartaches in terms of demonic warfare and mystical destiny.
"The Pearl" is about two people determined to be content with their own discontent. It is about the war they are forced to fight between the things they dream for and the things they believe are possible. And yet I am not interested in denying that it is also about two college girls and the things they've done and seen and felt. There is no other way to write an epic.
If you know what you're looking for, we're pretty easy to find. Do you honestly think the fact that Rin likes the smell of cherries came out of nowhere? Or the emotional bond she has with the faithful Kado? That is asiancherries herself masquerading in kimono and geta. And anytime, anytime in the writing of asiancherries (and there is more than one instance) you see a woman receiving unwanted attention in the form of a man grabbing her hips you are in fact witnessing a re-enactment of an unfortunate incident of my life involving a tennis instructor. Jaken's line of "You stupid fool" is a tribute to the moment when India Wilkes utters those same words in Gone With The Wind. Rin's hysteria, both in the sword-stealing scene and later in the underworld...well, that's probably borrowed from the both of us. And Rin's various convalescent scenes hurt—I see things buried in those words that exist for me alone, but exist nevertheless.
It is a great story. "The Pearl" is original, and suspenseful, and heart-warming, and tragic, and still funny as all get-out. I shrieked with laughter during Shouji's tea party, Kouga and Ayame's heated exchange, Sesshoumaru's nervous breakdown during Rin's first meal, and of course the introduction of the Toriboku. My distress manifested itself in physical pain when I saw Rin and Sesshoumaru face off over the swords, when I saw what she was reduced to by Shouji, and when Sesshoumaru finally made it to her side only to feel the pearl shatter against his own breastplate. I smiled when Jaken and Rin wondered where Sesshoumaru got his rocks, and when Housenki wondered how many moments he had left to live. I wish we knew exactly what went on between Takako and her fiancée. I wish, in spite of everything, that it could have kept going.
I've done the best I could. I've had a great time. Thank the readers for reading, thank the writer for writing. This is Botan, signing off.