medium — Manga
creation date — 16 August 2015
participated in — BAB Metamorphosis Challenge
Perhaps I didn't need someone to admire, but someone who really understands me. Someone who feels with me, accepts me for who I am, hits me when I'm wrong and sees the real me. That would be the most special person to me.
- fear of rejection
- the importance of female friendships
- new beginnings
- letting go
- parallel growth
- finding the real you
- first character shrine
- allowing a texture to determine the looks of the entire site
- visual elements in general, especially the background coding
- setting an individual thematic focal point and following it from start to finish
- blurring the lines between individual/relationship shrine, description/analysis content, relationship/development page
- examining an entire series from the viewpoint of a character
- first "look-alike" page; using it to analyze a similar character you would otherwise never shrine
- including a review of the series on a character shrine
- This was the first time that I participated in an event with a clear theme: metamorphosis. Amassment's challenges and marathons tend to be quite open to allow as many people as possible to participate, but Bad Ass Bitches launched its first challenge, and I was all too eager to participate. (I ended up making two shrines within one month for the challenge, the other being Awakening.) Seeing different interpretations of a theme as vague as this is one of the most exciting and individual things.
- I adore Yuyuka, but Daytime Shooting Star isn't a favourite series of mine; besides, there are so many other characters I love. I'm not sure I would have ever shrined Yuyuka had it not been a great fit for this prompt. My advice (and this doesn't just apply to In Control): Sign up for events. You'll be surprised how many shrines you'll end up with that you would have never considered otherwise.
- This is a follow-up to what I wrote on the previous shrine, Strength of Heart. I talked about how design and content influence each other and how you switch back and forth between them. In Control is not a prime example of it for reasons mentioned below, but it does something I hadn't done to this extent on the previous shrine: The texture in its header determined almost all visual elements in the stylesheet.
Because Daytime Shooting Star is a series with high school setting, and because the texture I used in the header was made to resemble watercolours, I went with a school theme for the layout. I coded the background to look like a notebook excerpt, and made the images accompanying the text look like... stains, when you let a cup rest on the table for a while. Section markers on the individual pages were made to look like highlighted parts in a study book, and the navigation is meant to resemble tabs within a book. The texture was also used for quotes to make it look like something had spilled over the pages. I'm not sure whether all of that reached the visitors, but I'm very fond of it. I wouldn't have done any of it had it not been for the header texture.
- In Control is my first character shrine – I had always dreamt of having one, and my first two shrines weren't character shrines. It was time to experiment and see whether I could bring my own approach to it.
- This shrine's keyword is pride. It's Yuyuka's defining trait to me, and as a proud person, I love pride being examined in fiction – not as a quirk or in passing, but as a continuous element of a character's writing that makes them who they are. Because I consider it particularly well-done in this case, I wanted that pride to be present in every part of the shrine – just as Yuyuka sees the world and herself through her pride. Pride comes with the need for control for me, so I set that as a thematic focal point as well. The pages were thus written to show how pride defines and limits Yuyuka, without completely dismissing it as something negative: It's present in her persona as well as her need for control, but it's also there in her dignity and her way of expressing affection.
- Coming into this shrine, I knew I was intimidated by two things: the personality and the development/story pages – staples in character shrines, you could say. I'm someone who loves details, and details forming part of a whole; I consider writing summaries a drag because it's difficult to strike the right balance between different audiences: those already intimately familiar with the subject, those who need a refresher, and those who don't know the subject at all.
The first group may skip the summary altogether if it has nothing new to offer, preferring to reexperience the source material instead or a write-up that points out details they may have missed. The third group may prefer a condensed overview to see whether they're interested in the subject; a detailed summary would be tedious due to the lacking context to accompany it. The second group's preferences could go either way. I'm also not as fond of reading pure summaries for the same reason, and end up skimming them.
- For the personality page, my aim was not just to summarize the character. I wanted to explore her behaviour in detail, in relation to the focal points I had set. What I ended up with is a page I titled "Values": a combination of things that define Yuyuka and the things that she considers important. From the observations I had made, I carved out six points to examine in-depth, and provided examples for them. (I may have overdone it with the examples.) I tried to go beyond descriptions, and already started to include analysis, speculations and interpretations this "early" into the shrine to make it less dry for myself. On the index page, I call this shrine a "character study", and this page shows it very well.
- As for Yuyuka's relationships... I decided to ditch one such page altogether because I knew that as much as I enjoy reading them on other people's shrines, their placement usually wasn't what I was looking for. Relationship pages are most commonly found at the end of a shrine, after everything about the character has been said. It makes sense when you think about it, as Todd helped me understand: The focus is on the individual first and foremost – their personality, their growth. Relationships are considered an "extra", and of less importance compared to the pages I've just mentioned, so they're placed towards the end of the shrine, because the pages are often arranged in chronological order of events as well as in order of importance.
The issue I have with that as far as my shrines are concerned is this: Firstly, it offers a very fragmented view not just of a character's relationships, but also of themselves. In most stories, relationships are a tremendously important element of a character's development. To split that from the rest of the shrine and place it at the end can come across as it being tacked on, rather than part of said growth. Secondly, it's, as far as I'm concerned, a very unsatisfying note to end a shrine on. I like shrines to end with an overview or a retrospect of the subject, a kind of thematic summary or at least a conclusion to the narrative as presented on the shrine itself. Perhaps that's my love for essays speaking – perhaps I regard a shrine in its entirety as a long essay. But that's how I want it to be: I want the note on which the shrine ends to leave an impression on the visitor, for them to take that one message with them when they're ready to leave. If I end a character shrine with one relationship out of many, one part of a whole person, I can't achieve that aim (in most cases, at least; it depends on the story).
- What I did instead were two things: In Growth, I merged the description of her relationship developments with her own growth as a person (what would be called the summary part of a shrine). I looked at the entirety of her scenes in the manga, defined key moments and grouped them as four different conflicts that summarize what she goes through in chronological order. Then, I assigned each of those thematic points one character or character group whose relationship with Yuyuka represented the respective conflict and stage of development. Take note that this is very likely not possible for any character; it just happened to work out in Yuyuka's case.
I'm sure that my previous experience on Strength of Heart had a hand in this. Although it didn't focus on relationships, I had spread Cephiro's inhabitants across the different pages as part of the respective topic or station in the journey, which made them something very organic to the subject I was shrining. I tried to emulate that organic feel here.
(As an aside, that is something you need to be aware of: The same structure and ideas won't work for every subject you shrine. Rather than despairing, however, look at it as a good thing – it means that every subject is its own thing, a special thing that needs its own structure. It's what makes your shrines differ from one another while highlighting the individual quality of the subject.)
- The second thing I "did" is understanding how vital Suzume, the series' protagonist and Yuyuka's closest friend, is not just to Yuyuka as a person, but also her narrative and her growth. If that's the case, if Suzume's presence and influence pervade the entirety of Yuyuka's narrative, why would I limit their relationship to just one part of a relationship page? Doing that would mean divorcing Suzume's significance from the rest of the shrine, and thus Yuyuka's development, so that was out of the question. Instead, Suzume colours every part of the shrine, reflecting the way she colours Yuyuka's entire world since entering it. At every turn, I stressed their relationship, and placed as much importance on its presentation as I did on the character in question.
But that's not all that I did. On the "essay page" of the shrine, Weight, which also serves as the conclusion of the "Yuyuka" part of the shrine, I wrote about four different subjects I absolutely wanted to talk about – the reason I wanted to make the shrine in the first place: Yuyuka's role in the grand scheme, and her own personality being the exact kind of support and guidance that Suzume needs; Yuyuka and Suzume affecting each other and parallels in their growth; Yuyuka's one-sided feelings for a major character who turns out not to be what she needs, and how the portrayal of that nonexistent relationship ultimately emphasized her relationship with Suzume instead; the meaning of a certain metaphor in the series.
Those may be independent topics to analyze, but they're tied together by Suzume's presence and the bond between the two girls; the entire page is written distinctively from the perspective of that relationship. The finished product thus serves a conclusion of Yuyuka's role and growth as well as a lengthy relationship page that highlights the most important relationship. And yet, it's still very different from all the other pages on the shrine, which addressed the relationship just as much (Values, the equivalent of a personality page, and Growth, the equivalent of a summary, development and relationship page).
When I mention above that the shrine blurs the lines between character and relationship shrine, this is what I mean – and I say as much on the very index of the shrine.
- I've always loved "look-alike" extra pages on many of the old shrines I visited in my teen years – they were such an amusing and interesting way to think about a character, not to mention the potential they had in introducing others to similar things (especially in the absence of large databases and social media). To be honest, these pages are one of the things I looked forward to creating the most, long before I started making shrines of my own... I'd be inspired by those shrines, and I'd sit there and think about similar characters and compare them. These pages aren't essential to shrines at all, but I was utterly fascinated by them.
And because I word vomit everywhere, my very first look-alike page turned into a mini shrine to a character who'd otherwise be too minor to shrine. Because the character is from a different work by the same mangaka though, I feel that the length of the comparisons I drew to Yuyuka are justified. It wouldn't be until Valkyrie that I could make the kind of look-alike page I had always wanted to make.
- One thing I'm very proud of in writing In Control is the way I examined the entire series from the viewpoint of a side character and her relationship to the protagonist – rather than, as you'd perhaps expect, focusing on the romance. It is a romance shoujo after all. I like that; it means that there's more to the series than just romance, and that there's still plenty left to explore beyond Yuyuka if the shrine makes anyone interested in the series itself.
I still felt like I ought to write more about the series to give the shrine some context though – precisely because Yuyuka isn't exactly representative of the series. I didn't want visitors who end up liking the shrine to go into the series with wrong expectations, so I included a review of it as closing words.
Don't get me wrong: I wouldn't recommend sticking a review in just about any shrine. If the rest of the shrine already says plenty about the subject and your own opinion on it has been sufficiently expressed, a separate review page may look superfluous. On Prisoner's Dilemma, Awakening, Valkyrie and Dornenkaefig, for example, I include reviews because each of those series comes with some massive flaws that might deter visitors from giving them a try, or may result in them dropping the series at some point. The reviews were written to inform them about those things to prevent disillusion and as a kind of warning (and so that nobody thinks I have awful taste 8D).
I didn't expect to write that much about the making of of this shrine, but it doesn't really come as a surprise. It is my first character shrine after all. In Control, Yuyuka – you've taught me so many different things, and you've significantly added to my repertoire of elements that make up a shrine. You've influenced every character shrine that followed. But the truth is, it's still difficult for me to love you.
I intended to pair this shrine and its participation in the Metamorphosis Challenge up with the One Page, One Month Marathon, mistakenly thinking that because Yuyuka is a side character in a series I don't exactly adore as a whole, I would dedicate a one page shrine to her, meaning to write mainly about her pride. Even when it became obvious that my shrine had crossed the limit of a one page shrine and couldn't possibly be presented as one, I kept holding on to it. The entire shrine was written as a single page while it was in the works, with me scrolling up and down. It wasn't until I had finished the shrine that I let go of the last irrational part of myself, and split up the pages.
That navigation wasn't planned from the start. There wasn't a good place for it in the layout I had created, because the layout was made for a one page shrine. If you've read my thoughts on content and design influencing and shaping each other, you'll understand what a gross misstep this was. Similarly, the sections within each page were outlined with a one page shrine in mind: They are all connected to each other, flowing into each other, and they are of different length. They aren't things I can split into further subpages; that's not how they were conceptualized. And yet, several of those pages are extremely long due to the way I had conceptualized them. I couldn't break them up, but their length is also not... pleasing, if I may say so, compared to the length of other pages on the shrine itself and the "usual" length of pages on other shrines.
One thing you must know is that I've always had so much to say, so much to translate from my thoughts into something expressed, and that isn't something that has always been welcome in my life. I like having so much to say, I like thinking about things. But it alienates me at times. It felt alienating to write much longer essays than my classmates at school. It felt alienating to raise my hand when discussing literature in class, only to go off on a very long speech about symbolism, traversing literary scapes my fellow students wouldn't even have thought of setting foot in (while struggling severely with oral communication, too). A constant part of my life, as explained, is also the inability to talk about the things I care about: because I have difficulty expressing things orally, but even more so because a lengthy essay is not something you serve others in a conversation. But if it's not lengthy, if it's not detailed, I want nothing of it, and prefer to silence myself.
When I write absurdly long texts and share them with others, and especially in a community where you look at the things others make to understand what the "standards" are (all the more so when you're new to shrining; but looking for a standard to adhere to is also what a large part of my life consists of), I get anxious. My anxiety increases the longer the text becomes. I am afraid of being perceived as weird – as alien. Even though this is exactly what I love about myself, it's very difficult to carry that love around as I try to fit in.
In Control made me go through so much of that anxiety: when I was worrying about the shrine hitting the limit of a one page shrine, when it crossed that line, and even after I had already split the text up into pages. It disappointed me that I couldn't combine the two events I wanted to participate in (because selecting a subject that would fit both events is very different from selecting a subject for only one event). It disappointed me so much that I had to sit down and compensate by making another shrine within the same month to prove that yes, I am indeed capable of combining two events. It disappointed me that my vision and my structure for In Control were mismatched with the finished product. It disappointed me that it wasn't well-planned out – just because I ended up having so much more to say.
The shrine has been well-received by the community though, and I have received overwhelmingly kind feedback on it. I hope that in time, I will be able to join those voices, and look back on this shrine and appreciate it as it deserves to be appreciated. To live and to create means to continuously adapt: to accept that you need to change course at times, but that that does not devalue the outcome. What you end up with isn't a compromise – it's something different, and should be judged and valued as such. Even the things that didn't live up to your expectations and instead turned into something else are things capable of teaching you something important, and things that you can be proud of.
When I am able to love the finished product for what it is, and appreciate the way I got there, rather than be disappointed with what it didn't manage to achieve, that is when I'll know that I have grown.