The elf archer takes aim!
|This episode presented us with quite a few avenues of creative thought, writing, presentation, fandom, and the like, and even a couple of place all of them intersected.|
The Spoopy Piano in the Creepy House!
Sometimes you don’t know when motivation or inspiration will strike, and we can take as a “for instance” this episode’s cold open. If it weren’t for Megumin and Her Merry Band showing up
to taunt poor Sagiri for Sagiri’s encouragement, would Masamune, and therefor the audience, have even given the house next door another thought, or even thought much of the “haunted piano”? Plot advancement can dangle from the most thin of threads sometimes. But when you can put those threads with other ones, things can really pull together and you get a good story as a result. In that respect, there are quite a few things laid bare this episode. It doesn’t take much to get Masamune motivated, his little sister in distress is quite enough. Also, keeping his sister as his artistic partner is a massive driver for his overall artistic motivation as well.
Does Elf realize that she just wrote her own story?
As the episode progresses, a pretty revealing picture of Elf Yamada comes into focus. It looks like she’s very much on top of a trend in light novel consumption. We learned in the last episode that her work is, one one level, a pretty easy read, and on another, not all that literate. I’ll take the middle ground on that argument and say that it doesn’t take to high a curve to get into her stories. But we find out a few more details this time around. She has the added layer of not only erotica, but a high minded sort of romance about it; and one that also strives to meet expectations. So when you add that up the numbers tell a commercial story. Elf has hit the magic trifecta, and it’s no surprise that she is #1 one week and #14 the next. All it takes is a cursory glance at net commentary to see that her sort of material is embraced and ditched in cycles.
Two million copies…this is what it looks like
But what makes her a truly unique take on this sort of artist vs. commerce viewpoint, is that she is blissfully unaware of most of how her target audience probably percieves her, or at least she isn’t as calculating about it as I lay out above. Her viewpoints of nudity and sexuality are really quite innocent given the circumstances, and I can understand where she is coming from, and how another section of her audience might elevate it to the pedestal of “pure”. But it also has a great degree of disconnect to it. As sexuality is something she writes as happenstance; the “law of the forest”. Taken to the sensical, sexulity or nudity is nothing someone ever does with any other purpose, but rather a very proper sort of comedy of errors and misunderstandings. The proceedings and outcomes are lined up like an equation.
She doesn’t even know how close she is….
But all of that just underscore the main action of the episode, and that is the ongoing competition between Masamune and Elf for the future partnership with our titular heroine. It’s quite a neat little hitch. Both of them are convinced they have to write the best story to get her attention. While it’s easy to acknowledge to himself now, that the famous erormanga-sensei is indeed his sister, it’s much harder for Masamune to conceive of being able to woo her to remain his select artist. For one, she’s shut him down before – the farewell piece she drew, even if she didn’t know it was him, that feeling is sticking, and two the whole business is killing his motivation to even try. Or…are those two points just feeding each other. For Elf’s part, she’s just not getting any bites from what she has on her hook, which frustrates her because she “the #1 Oricon” light novelist.
Elf is gonna summon her Stand!
But there’s even more to underscore the proceedings. I rather love the dichotomy between “motivation” and “getting the work done”. If treated as an abstract, then motivation and inspiration are monolithic forces that will come to you any moment. But the reality is much more frustrating. For my part, I will say that neither Masamune nor Elf are in the rights, at least as a whole argument. Nor will I get cutesy and ask “why not both?” For me, it’s always “getting the work done” which in reality is typing; that takes skill and that takes doing it every day (furthermore I’m shit at it, I have to try harder, and I actually failed touch typing in school, word processing has been a boon!) without fail. You may not be typing the masterpiece, but when that magic moment does come along, and it really does, you’ll be prepared for it. Max-fire motivation does exist, but it happens in it’s truest, most readable form, after multiple drafts. But when Elf does reveal that writing is a hobby to her, Masamune’s critique takes new focus, as does her’s of him and why he is writing. But by the end, we see Elf becoming hooked by her new fan, and finding new motivation herself perhaps?
Did she just pull the welcome home master trick?
..meanwhile, over in Sagiri’s room…The cold open did it’s job, keeping her confined to one place – not that she was really going anywhere, but it externalized some of her reasons for being a shut-in, and it moved the plot along, showing how much of a center she is even if she becomes a supporting character in her own show. Since the next episode is titled after her nome de plume, we should see her full comeback; and again, not that she didn’t have influence this one. I will love seeing how both Elf and Masamune find a happy middle…maybe? Her plots don’t go anywhere because she’s not really trying to say something that will take her anywhere. It’s her hobby. He’s not motivated because it’s becoming to much a job to him and he’s losing focus on the joy he brings himself and others, and he’s only doing the next one to keep his sister his partner; these are things he learned from both his little sister and from Elf – in her own fashion, that is, she has things to learn too. Good episode, can’t wait for next week.