P Commentary: Artistic Liberty

In Chapter P. The Robot the Size of the Galaxy Professor Akayama meets Commander Lucille. They pool their resources into a Zephyr with all the mass of the Milky Way. Unfortunately this isn’t a huge improvement in their quest to take down the Hurricane, which is as big as the observable universe minus the Milky Way.

Obviously I’m not aiming for scientific accuracy. The easiest place to see this is in my treatment of the speed of light: not only can robot-spaceships travel faster than light, but characters can see events too far away for light to reach them in reasonable time.

The clearest example is the peculiar eye-movement-communication manifested by the Hurricane. I decided to let Hurricane Planets communicate visually like this to get around the “no noise in space” issue, but now that I need characters to communicate across thousands of light-years, I have to swallow my pride and pretend it just works. Half the fun of anime fights is watching characters shout at each other, and it would be a shame to cut that just because it wouldn’t be scientifically accurate. Call it artistic liberty.

Giant robot stories can be compelling even while adhering to physics, but since Akayama DanJay involves enemies the size of the universe and other impossible situations, concessions must be made. The larger-than-life subject-matter of Akayama’s story is meant to contrast DanJay’s more down-to-Earth narrative: while DanJay investigates the afterlife in a mundane, drug-induced manner, Akayama essentially becomes a god when she makes a new Earth and spawns life. It feels natural for Akayama’s story to involve robots attacking each other with punches faster than light because hers is the otherworldly celestial realm, where entities of unimaginable power combat each other in traditionally incomprehensible manners.

This contrast between the mundane and the impossible is the heart of Akayama DanJay. What DanJay calls reality is overshadowed by a more ‘real’ reality which, paradoxically, comes across as less real to the reader: a fight between giant anime robots who treat light-speed as a suggestion. Dan, Jay, Faith, Beatrice, and Leo are realistic and grounded compared to Commander Lucille, whose bombastic leadership style probably wouldn’t fly in any legitimate military organization.

I hope this reflects our own reality: our day-to-day lives are influenced by fictional stories—for example, political propaganda—perhaps to a greater degree than any ‘objectively real’ aspect of life. The line between ‘reality’ and ‘fantasy’ is blurred when we understand that ‘fantasy’ is created by people influenced by ‘reality,’ and those ‘fantasies’ in turn influence ‘reality.’ In truth, there is no difference: Harry Potter is as real as anything else in the sense that it influences ‘objective reality.’ Writers should let ‘reality’ interrupt their ‘fantasy’ only to the subdued degree that ‘fantasy’ gets to interrupt ‘reality.’

Next week I’ll explain my ideal reorganization of Akayama DanJay. I think portions of Akayama’s story should occur before we see DanJay’s story, even if DanJay’s story starts on such an intriguing note.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Reality is shared between us now.

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