In my mind, I’m walking a fine line with Tokio. I’m basically rewriting the Rurouni Kenshin storyline in Aku Soku Zan(za) (with an added story-arc at the beginning before Kenshin shows up in Tokyo), and Tokio is my female lead; you could say she takes the place of Kaoru in my personal RK retelling. Therefore, I’m trying, more or less, to keep her within the boundaries that Watsuki set for his female characters:
Each woman is strong in one way or another, but they are universally physically weaker than the men of the series, and make up for that weakness with various non-physical characteristics. I’m not going to get into the age-old realism argument in that area — that is, whether women are actually capable of becoming as skilled warriors as men are — because it’s irrelevant to the topic at hand. The point is that the purpose of women in Rurouni Kenshin is never to provide assistance in battle — regardless of the battles they may fight for furtherment of the plot or development of their own characters independent of interaction with the men — but rather be supplemental in other ways. The fact that overt romance is carefully left out in every case places the women in roles of psychological support:
Although Kenshin and Kaoru obviously love each other, Kaoru is usually more of a representation of the good wishes and friendship of everyone around Kenshin, the expectations and needs of the world he has devoted himself to protecting — because she believes in him so fervently, he is able to continue in the path he has chosen. And whether or not there are any romantic feelings between Aoshi and Misao, the latter is a source of strength for Aoshi because she is an embodiment of the world’s reality and warmth from which he is often in danger of sealing himself off — because she is so genuine and emotional, he is motivated to do what he has to do rather than giving in to his inner turmoil.
The problem with this line of reasoning in discussing my Tokio is that I’m using her to enhance the drama — that is, inter-character relations — rather than the psychological aspects of physical events. Her specific purpose is to be a bridge between Sano and Saitou, as I’ve tried to set her up as somewhat of a combination of the two (with, of course, a few characteristics foreign to either of them). Therefore it’s a little more difficult to fit her into the woman-mold correctly.
Don’t think that I’m saying here, BTW, that I’m trying to copy or conform. Well, technically, I am trying to conform, to a certain extent… since I’m rewriting the story in its entirety, I want to follow some of the rules that Watsuki laid down for the original. Obviously I’m going to depart from them somewhat as Aku Soku Zan(za) is foremost drama where Rurouni Kenshin is action, but I don’t want my Tokio, who is essentially an original character, to feel alien to my readers by straying entirely from the standard RK woman.
So the breakdown is this….. Tokio is a police officer, something rather brash for a woman to be. However, she is only in that position for the same reason Saitou is: basically it’s a cover-up for her spy-work. Misao is onmitsu, after all, and a ninja, and runs around with bare thighs — so far, I think (I hope) this balances. Then, Tokio is an excellent spy, easily as good as Saitou is. Perhaps I go too far in saying that, in putting her at his level, but it’s also true that she’s a lousy fighter. Kaoru or Misao could whoop her in a minute… so hopefully that evens out as well. And then she has a rather ambiguous ability to discern the emotions of others practically without fail. This is part of what led her to become a spy in the first place… I’m not sure how far into her backstory I’m going to go during ASZz, but I’ve got it all in my head. Still, I’m not sure I can justify this almost uncanny power in RK-woman terms. I did give her some emotional vulnerabilities of her own, though, that balance it out just in character terms (I’ve found IRL that sometimes those who are most sensitive to things in others are the ones with the most problems on those areas themselves). Things are going to get even more difficult and complicated once her own real romance starts (especially given that staying within RK boundaries when writing romance is difficult to begin with).
Upon rereading, I am vastly amused by all of this… it sounds like I sat down and did all of that work on Tokio consciously. No… I just come up with characters intuitively, and then analyze them afterwards because I enjoy it. So although all those considerations were most likely taken on purpose, they were quite subconscious. Anyway, we’ll see if I can keep Tokio in line throughout the rest of the story… the epic… whatever… I should probably also take this moment to mention that this is not at all a source of worry to me, only of interest. It’s a game to see if I can follow these arbitrary, amorphous rules of characterization, and my sensibilities will not be at all damaged if I lose. Or if I’ve already lost *shrugs*
Hopefully all this rambling has put me in a more productive mood. I’ve gotten one paragraph of ASZz written so far, but have done a good deal more re-reading and screen-staring. Now it’s time to try again.