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FINALLY COMMENTING ON THIS. (Reply)
FINALLY COMMENTING ON THIS.
2012-05-29 06:37 am (UTC)
Late comment is incredibly, unforgivably late.
I'm not sure how to structure this comment so it's probably going to be a bit of an eclectic mess. Bear with me as I try to get my thoughts down....
This story felt like the game. What I mean by that is that every time I reread it I discover nuances you slipped in that I'd missed the last time. You know I love subtlety, and I know you love subtlety too, and given that both MOTHER3 and Kid Icarus: Uprising have so much of this I shouldn't be surprised that you're so good at it. But damn, I kind of am. In awe, I mean. It's sort of great.
I'll admit that the first time I read this it was a bit difficult to figure out what was going on. The shifts between scenes were drastic. Clarity was forthcoming with each time I reread this though, and the scenes are really complementary to each other so it only feels a tad disjointed.
Lin and I always go on and on about how great it is for a piece to be "sensual." Well, this one had a lot of sensuality to it, which is probably obvious given the title. Anyway, I liked how you melded things. The unnatural melding is one of the most prevalent themes in the game (like the wood-and-metal "MOTHER3" in the title screen that changes into pure wood at the end), and to see it reflected here in a sensual manner was great. I especially liked the nuts you can't eat too much of, lest you experience that disgusting, metallic aftertaste. It felt like a literal manifestation of the title screen thing: evidence of the Pigmask's corruptive influence. That was a great touch.
I liked all of the characters' interactions, but the Claus+Fuel conversations were my favorite by far. Claus is always concerned about Lucas and tries to take on the role of a caregiver, which is understandable given that 1) he's the only family Claus has left after Hinawa and Flint passed away, 2) Lucas is rather sickly in this fic, and 3) Claus almost lost him after the drago incident in "Stand up Strong." He's carrying a lot on his shoulders, but he tries to keep Lucas reassured by being strong and comforting. Claus's dynamic with Fuel is distinctly different. He's gruff and much rougher with Fuel, at least relative to Lucas. When Fuel gets bitten by the snake, Claus doesn't get swept up with panic; he acts calmly and talks to Fuel in a reassuring yet still gruff way. Had it been Lucas that was bitten, I suspect Claus's reaction would have been markedly different.
Anyway, my point is that Fuel is like an outlet for Claus. Unlike Lucas, who stays at home, Fuel accompanies Claus when he goes to the forest. Claus doesn't have to worry about Fuel's health (even when he's bitten by that snake), because Fuel is healthy. In addition to that, Claus is free to treat Fuel roughly (like when he dropped the toolbox on his lap) when he pisses him off. I like that scene because Claus kind of overreacted to Fuel's comment. It shows me that Claus is bristling with tension, that he's maybe a bit sensitive because of his PSI and his position in the village. He can't take this out on Lucas, so he takes it out on Fuel. Still, he cares about Fuel, hence the way he tossed the gauze at him after he basically barred him from entering the house. It takes me back how you always tell me that Claus is crazy. I can see that here, but it's belied by fear. Any kid would be afraid in his position; his parents are dead, his brother is sick, and their house is falling apart. The snarky and sometimes hostile with Fuel highlights that, though the way you qualified that with the gauze scene was pretty great.
Some scenes did feel really trippy at first, but once I came to notice how Claus was feeling, they made more sense to me. Correct me if I'm wrong, but those rather ambiguous scenes about digging in the graveyard and being plagued by those nausea-inducing smells: are they manifestations of Claus's grief? The old fumes, fruit, flowers, and familiar hair are associated with Hinawa for me. I interpreted it in the sense that Claus, having taken on all the responsibilities of being "head of the household," has not really allowed himself to grieve properly for his parents' deaths.
There's that dichotomy in the game: Lucas cries and cries and eventually gets the grief out of his system (the crying, inactivity, and the eventual transition - the heroic action of saving Wes, Kumatora, and Salsa from Fassad), but Claus's attempt at "grieving" (avenging Hinawa by killing the drago) is stunted by his own death. It's unresolved, to say the least.
In "Stand up Strong" you add to this unresolved guilt by having Lucas get hurt and falls into a coma after he tries to save Claus from the drago. So - not only does he have the unresolved grief of his mother's death, but he also has to deal with the guilt/shame/grief of what his actions resulted in for Lucas. He even compromises his morals by considering to approach Fassad for help. This, coupled with the way he's going out into the forest and learning to sheer the sheep - it just builds and builds and builds as he "loses his balance."
So that persistent smell and nausea, and the eventual culmination in Claus's crying on the floor - that's him grieving. That's him finally expressing the guilt, grief, shame, and fear he's feeling. It was kind of breathtaking, I'll give you that. Adding to that was the focus on summer, which I can't help but feel means that it's the anniversary of their parents' deaths and Lucas's injury? I'm a bit hazy on details, but I'm pretty sure that it was summertime in SuS when the incident happened. If so, that's another awesome touch that I didn't notice the first time reading this.
This is a bit out of place, but I also noticed the animosity with Lighter. Since the blow Lighter gave Flint kills him in SuS, I can appreciate the continuity here. It puts Claus's unwillingness to have Lighter help and his annoyance at being told what to do by him in a different light. While he hangs out with Fuel on a regular basis, I can imagine that Claus (and even Lucas) have unresolved feelings towards Lighter since his action precipitated their father's death. This also puts an interesting twist and strain on the friendship between Claus and Fuel that I discussed earlier. Is Claus quick to anger with Fuel because he still has some resentment towards Lighter? Does he do what he does because, I don't know, he feels that if Fuel hadn't been trapped in that burning house Flint could have saved Hinawa? I doubt Claus acknowledges this to himself even, but it's interesting because a lot of this is only natural. It's plain that he cares for Fuel, but these considerations put a different spin on things. Don't mind me, I'm rambling by this point.
Also: the Fuel's mom+Hinawa friendship was kind of beautiful, okay.
The ending was great. After Claus's cathartic moment, having the three of them reunite in that way was a good resolution. I especially enjoyed Fuel's musings about PSI and the strange sense of the three of them being connected. It makes you wonder, because even if Fuel isn't PSI-capable, would the fact that Lucas and Claus
and that they're close to him mean that they can establish a connection with him? I don't know, and that's probably Star Trek fanlore seeping in, but I loved the ending. I did. The home-y feeling Fuel gets, the implicit forgiveness between him and Claus after their misunderstanding, and the way they came together at the site of a tragedy the year before is great. Brilliant. It felt peaceful.
Anyway, this has really helped me appreciate the importance of subtlety in one's writing. It has also given me a deeper appreciation for your writing as well, Curi. I know that I'm late in reading and saying this, but this is a great fulfillment of my request. Subtle, meaningful, and infused with other themes so that the relationship between them is important but not an all-encompassing facet of this story. Thank you for writing this for me. :3
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