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Mary Sue Check-In: Rei Kurogane

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by OberonLordofSylva, Nov 27, 2020.

  1. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    My recent post was absolute cringe, so I think I want to start something up as a gift to this community. I want to use my insecurity over whether or not my OC is cringe to create an episodic communal series were the OP shows off an individual character and breaks them down like an analysis video on youtube. The comments help refine the character and make them more realistic and dynamic. I'll start with the Lancer archetype of my WIP, Rei Kurogane. I said Lancer, as in the rival and deuteragonist, not the protagonist. My WIP has very unique terminlogy so if you have a question on what something is or means feel free to ask me.

    Let's start with the name. Rei's full name is Reiji Nikolai Kurogane. Reiji can be translated in a number of ways but the meaning i had in mind is "spirit law". Spirit Law is very approriate for him, but I'll go over why soon. The nickname "Rei" simply means "soul", as my fellow Bleach fans in the room are likely aware. Kurogane meanwhile only has one translation, "black steel". I honestly don't know what "Nicolai" means and thus the middle name becomes a red herring. What's important about Rei's middle name is that it was his father's name. Thus, "Nicolai" becomes a sort of memento. "Black Steel Spirit Law" refers to a very Law-aligned character with an iron will, tough body, and a sharp mind.

    Now on to Rei's backstory. In Terra Sola, the setting of my WIP, it is illegal for Storm Dragons and Kitsune to fornicate, much less get married. Despite these two peoples being in very close proximity to each other, this law was upheld. This is because any who took part in such a union were considered enemies of the world and executed. But the government could not delay the birth of the "Dragon of Ginnungagap" for much longer. Reiji Nickolai Kurogane was born to Yui Kurogane and Nicolai of the Wandering Wind , a well-to-do kitsune woman and Storm Dragon renegade. Rei's parents were immediately executed but the House of Kurogane fought for Rei. The lawyers found a loophole in the law and Rei was permitted to live so long as he did not commit any crimes. If he were to do so, he would face the same end as his parents. And the thing is, the government wasn't entirely irresponsible in making such an extreme law. The Storm Dragon Affinity for Water Magic and the Kitsune Affinity for Fire Magic results in an Affinity for Chaos Magic, one of the Black Calamities feared by Mages. The Kurogane family also had a mutation that gave them an Affinity for Earth Magic which clashes with the Storm Dragon's Affinity for Wind to create even more Chaos. In addition to all this Chaos Energy, Rei's pedigree would install a Philosopher's Stone in his Soul. It is this Alchemical marvel that helps keep the poor boy from going insane but at the cost of even more phenomenal power. Fortunately for the people around him, being a Hybrid meant that Rei's body sealed away most of it's magical power behind a Form Seal, three to be precise. The first Seal locks his most basic powers, second Seal locks the Philosopher's Stone, and the third Seal is for his Chaos. The technique known as Release lets him temporarily undo these locks for combat purposes, each individual Release stage becoming more powerful and more monstrous. More on Rei's powers later. On a side note, Sealed Form Rei is actually quite handsome due to most of his father's genes being turned off. After spending his formative years in a monastery, custody of Rei would go to the closest of his mother's kin. That just so happened to be his older brother Nagi, and the reason Rei stayed with the monks was to wait until Nagi was a legal adult. While Nagi had legal citizenship in Hyperorientem, the eastern continent where all this was taking place, Rei didn't because loopholes. So Nagi and Rei traveled to the Novo Homo Imperium, the land of Humanity where Nagi had a favor to call in. Rei spent his middle school years at the Ridley Orphanage where he met his best friend, and the main protagonist of the story, Jack Ridley. The two boys were rejected by everyone else due to not being Human, and as a result they grew to be closer than lovers. Then Nagi got sick with a rare STD, calling the brothers back to Hyperorientem. The elders of the Kurogane family refused to pay for Nagi's medical bills so Rei decided to take matters into his own hands. Through the monks who helped raise him. Rei was able to get a position among the Obsidian Knights who are an elite group of warriors responsible for guiding and defending the dearly departed. Specifically, Rei would endure harsh training to unlock his true potential as a mage through the Zagreus Program. He did this because the Divine Royalty of the Soul Theater pay extremely well. But, he didn't graduate from Zagreus in time to save Nagi. The grief threw the poor young man off his game, and Rei was captured by the Peacecraft Legion. The Peacecraft Legion is the main antagonist of my WIP, they're a cult who believe that the only way to achieve world peace is through destruction. They accomplish this destruction by using genetics and cutting-edge magitek to create living weapons. Rei's DNA is unique and chock-full of potential and thus was a prime candidate for experimentation. His debut in the series comes in the second part of the first book, which centers around Jack trying to save Rei from the laboratory.

    Rei's personality is one of the simpler ones I've created. His DND alignment is Lawful Good and his personality is reminiscent of the more dynamic among LG's. The reason Rei is so lawful isn't just because of the threat of execution, although that certainly helps, but because of Rei's dream to join the Samurai Corps. The Samurai Corps are an elite branch of Hyperorintem's military, The Shogun, who is the leader of the Corps, is traditionally the right hand man to Hyperorientem's Empress. The Shogun's wife is also the chief lady in waiting to the Empress. While Rei is to humble to admit to gunning for Shogun, he does aim to rise through the ranks of the Samurai Corps and if he happens to become Shogun then he'll consider his life fulfilled. At the stage he's at the reader meets Rei, a simple infantry grunt job would make him happy as long as it's with the Samurai Corps. Even though he's far from being strong enough to be considered for the job, at least in Book 1, Rei holds tight to the Bushido Code even in situations where Bushido hinders the objective. The only thing capable of making Rei break his code is Jack. Jack saved Rei's life twice, once from loneliness and the other from the Peacecraft Legion. While Jack is troubled by the notion, Rei considers Jack the "lord" in the Lord and his Knight arrangement. As such, Rei feels obligated to advise and guard Jack whenever possible. Fortunately, Rei is very wise for his age partly in due to his tenure with the monks. Rei extends this protection to Jack's friends(the rest of the main cast) because in his mind, Jack's friends are an extension of Jack. Eventually he opens up to the others, but his main priority is repaying his life debt to Jack. Like I said above, the two of them are closer than lovers. Because of how Nagi died, and also the Bushido view on romance, Rei has has sworn an oath of celibacy and intends to keep it that way even after marriage. He politely refuses any advance of any kind and vehemently dispels the rumors that come from him and Jack being roommates. He's not anti-gay, just anti-sex.

    Like is said way above Rei is actually very handsome in his Sealed Form due to the lack of Draconic traits. I'll use this sectiojn to say that my Kitsune aren't actual foxes, but rather foxfolk. Their ears, eyes, and tails are the only things separating Kitsune from Humans. The Kurogane family mutation dyes Rei's hair and fur an earthy black color rather than the russet color of most Kitsune. Due to the time he spent in a stasis pod Rei's hair is extremely long which he uses as a reminder of his vendetta against the Legion. He cuts it in a Yamato Nadeshiko fashion, mostly because hairstylists don't know how to cut long male Kitsune hair and are intimidated by the reason for it's length. This, combined with his already soft features, feminine nickname, and loose clothing make Rei seem like a woman from a distance. A single word is capable of shutting would-be-suitors down, Rei's voice is as deep as his hair is long. When picking out clothes, Rei dresses in punk style in imitation of Jack and the two swap articles of clothing frequently. Unlike Jack, Rei's clothes often have Kanji written on them somewhere. I haven't gotten around to designing Rei's Release forms yet because I don't know how best to portray the steady influx of Draconic traits. Fortunately for me, and however I convince to do official art when the time comes, Rei doesn't go into his Release very often.
     
  2. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

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    I think you're kind of missing the point of what a Mary Sue is. A lot of people have pretty esoteric definitions for a Mary Sue, and it isn't an absolutely defined term, but here's my take:

    "A Mary Sue is a character about which a story unbelievably conspires to make them look good."

    A Mary Sue isn't a character who's too powerful or too attractive. Those are symptoms rather than the cause. The actual issue lies in how the story is structured. Basically, if the story is ultimately about getting across just how awesome, sympathetic, special, attractive (etc. etc. etc.) a particular character is, then you have a Mary Sue.

    I can't tell you if you have a Mary Sue based on what you've written here. I do see a few warning signs. How you make sure to mention multiple times how handsome Reji is. How he is the result of a "special" birth. How he's (seemingly needlessly from what I'm reading) sworn himself to celibacy. How even his name has such deep meaning with a long backstory. These are often symptoms of a Mary Sue. However, once again they are SYMPTOMS. Whether or not he's a Mary Sue depends on how he's handled in-story.

    I'd Highly recommend Overly Sarcastic Productions's video on Mary Sues if you haven't seen it already:
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2020
    Kilkarion likes this.
  3. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    Wait one. I'm with Vaporo on this. You're not talking about a Mary/Marty Sue here. A Mary Sue is (originally) a character in fan fiction, usually an author avatar, around whom the whole story revolves. They're a form of wish fulfillment and thats why such characters usually have unrealistic powers/characteristics/back story.
     
  4. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    Thanks a bunch for the advice. By your definition of a Mary Sue, Rei should be safe. He's the best friend character, so even though he's more powerful than the main protagonist he won't overshadow the MC. What I should do is introduce a flaw, holding grudges would be consistent with the other elements of Rei's character.
     
  5. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

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    Just make sure it's not just a "token" flaw. Make the flaw have actual meaningful consequences for him.

    Also, one point that I disagree with in the Overly Sarcastic Productions video is that a Mary Sue can only be the main character. I'd argue that a secondary character can still be a Mary Sue if they're handled badly enough, so it's still good to remain cautious. Really, all that's needed to avoid writing a Mary Sue is just a bit of self-awareness.
     
  6. Rori

    Rori New Member

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    To add to Vaporo's definition of the term, I'd like to add one I read years back that really resonated with me.
    "A Mary Sue defies certain laws of the universe, influences portions of the story and causes actions/behaviors of the other characters in a way no other characters do."

    This of course applies way more to original characters in fanfictions, but I think it still rings true in original fiction, at least sort of. It's not like any of those are bad on principle, I think they all could make great points in a story. But if they only apply to one character, and it's used consistantly to separate them from the others, especially in a way that's not intended as comedic or a parody, it really reads as a Mary Sue to me. That's also why I can't really judge if Reiji is one, since I don't know the other characters.
     
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