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[personal profile] labingi
Many, many thanks to [ profile] quaint_twilight for translating Mirage book 17, chapter 19, which I have just read and enjoyed very much. My summary: The race to save Takaya takes a comic turn.

Spoilers follow:

In short, Kaizaki!Naoe and Kotarou!Naoe run into each other proceed to kill each other (more or less) over who gets to be the better Naoe and rescue Takaya. On one level, this is the most ridiculous pissing contest I have encountered in MoB. It would serve the dingbats right if Takaya died in the snow (as he is imminently about to do) while they bicker and argue--and fling spiritual swords at each other--about who is more Naoe.

On another level, it's good drama, especially for Kotarou, who really does win at being Naoe this one time. Having already fought off several warriors and lost a hand in the process, he is still Naoe enough to kill (a relatively fresh and bi-handed) Naoe in his desperation to prove himself the best man for Takaya. This Kotarou has come a long way from the robot man of Gunjou, who made Ujimasa look warm and squishy. Yet the continuity of his super ninja skills standing him in good stead makes sense. Go, Kotarou. I buy that he won this one, no offense at all to Naoe, who is, of course, the real Naoe. But in this particular instance, under these particular circumstances, Kotarou was in a position to be just bit more desperate and determined. (And, yes, some force made Naoe lose his grip on Kaizaki's body, but I consider that about as relevant as Achilles praying to Zeus to let the Achaeans lose the war, i.e. not really necessary to the basic psychological structure or logic of the plot.)

I do, however, feel somewhat disappointed in Naoe, being less crazed and desperate, for not having the presence of mind to at least attempt to say, "How about we bury the hatchet and try to rescue this fellow before he dies in the snow?" On the other hand, I like what I interpret to be his long inner monologue as he runs along following his water snake. It is very Naoe to review the state of the angst in depth while sprinting in full rescue mode.

Also full of goodness was Takaya's final scene, in which he accepts being killed by various onryou if doing so will bring them peace. That's a real Takaya as Jesus moment, and it was very well played.

And then the next comedy beat of his being rescued by some dude, Naoe 1 and Naoe 2 having both got themselves disembodied for no remotely valid reason.


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