POLL: On the Flow of Act II, the Song of Storms, and Canon Breaking

Something has been done to the structure of Act II that suddenly places the completion bar 16% ahead of where it used to be.

At the end of Act I, Kafei (witnessing the midnight mugging of the bomb shop lady) is duped by Sakon into believing the thief had run off the north gate up to the mountains.

The original plan for Act II was a beginning focused on both Clock Town and the mountains with the Song of Storms, prolonging that number to incorporate a series of other themes and character concerns:

ACT2a

This, however poses two problems: Using the Clock Town set twice is cumbersome to an act with three different locations, but this is still feasible. The real problem is about reiteration of concerns:

The Song of Storms number is built as a crescendo which encompasses all of the characters and concerns described in the first section gradually into one big “snowball number”. The issue here is that there isn’t much to say at the beginning of Act 2 compared to the ending. Anju and Kafei have their love duet at a distance, in which there is no meaningful content besides “should I wait for you” and “please wait for me;” the carpenters go on with their work despite the rain; the Happy Mask Salesman is distraught at the disappearance of the imp, whom he had been peering at from the observatory in Act I, trying to find any weaknesses that might get him his mask back; the Mayor wonders where Kafei could be; and Majora, through Skull Kid, raises a snowstorm in the mountains just to “play” with Kafei.

Apart from the snowstorm, there is little to no content here, as everything can be summed up in “where is X” and “I’m so emo.”

After this, events would unfold towards getting Kafei out of the mountains and on to Great Bay (night falls at the death of Mikau), the Pirates’ Fortress and then back to Clock Town upon realizing (thanks to Aveil) that Sakon must show his pansy-ass head at the Curiosity Shop at some point that night.

This brings us back to Clock Town, and to Anju’s mother’s lecture on how it is safer to go to the ranch; also to the Happy Mask Salesman trading lore with Shikashi about the moon and the mask, and realizing that his solution may lie in Ikana Valley, where the mask’s effects had been felt a long time before any of this.

Sound familiar? That’s because it is. Anju’s doubts about staying or going, flimsy at the beginning of the act, now have a better context in the dialogue with her mother; and the Happy Mask Salesman’s worries about Skull Kid’s whereabouts and getting the mask back are further solidified by the interaction with Shikashi and the decision to go to the valley, all in one go, instead of singing questions at the air for twenty minutes with everyone else while it rains.

Why rain? Because to connect all of this to the sadness in the characters’ hearts and to the small hint of the Song of Storms in Anju’s short lament during Act I (before she’s interrupted by the postman), rain is the ideal context; the Song of Storms is both the most favorable theme for a large build-up and the perfect cement to which all the other themes (and therefore concerns) can be fixed.

With this structure, however, the act would feature a largely useless and time-consuming number at the beginning, while repeating the exact same concerns at the end, just in a more solid way.

Why? Because it only rains during the day.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say screw that:

ACT2b

In this revised structure, we have just a brief glimpse of the Clock Town theme and simple work-singing from off-stage (in the distance) to begin the act, and would be thrown directly into Kafei in the mountains, solo. Majora’s snowstorm would remain, obviously, and things would happen exactly like in the previous version until the return to Clock Town at night; the first return to Clock Town since Act I.

Here we can expose the concerns of every character gradually in a very big crescendo that can become a freakin’ nonet (9, not 10, because Shikashi is not a singing character), which now has room to expand due to its grounded context in character interaction. I have added Viscen and Mutoh to the Mayor’s concerns because the latter has no strength on his own, since the entire number is about clashing interests and situational contrasts: Anju’s gut VS her mother’s advice, the Mayor’s exasperation VS Viscen and Mutoh’s concerns, Viscen’s concerns VS Mutoh’s blindness (ARGUMENTCEPTION), Kafei’s stealth VS Sakon’s, and the Happy Mask Salesman’s hunt for the mask VS the Skull Kid’s uncaring and destructive nature. It would just be solo whining for too long otherwise.

Kafei and Anju’s love duet is also included, this time made even more interesting due to their physical proximity without any actual interaction.

All of this rendered more dramatic through a nighttime rainstorm, in order to contextualize the Song of Storms.

What does this mean, in the end? It means that since most of the actual Song of Storms number has been written, it just needs to be moved from where it currently sits and then be expanded into the required nonet. This makes the expected duration of the act shorter, since there are no frivolous repetitions, making the jump from 69% to 85% completion in one go.

P.S: I’m glad, because the first structure was going to greatly outlast the one-hour-per-act average. :P

So let’s make a poll. What do you think? Does the second structure sound better to you? Or is there some other issue you have in mind? Comment if you have any other concerns.

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8 Responses to “POLL: On the Flow of Act II, the Song of Storms, and Canon Breaking”

  1. I would play the “artistic license” card on this one. If it makes sense and would be better, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and you have examined every possible effect and determined this to be the best path, then do it.

    I’ll still love the show.

  2. Although the TIME of the rain doesn’t really matter to me, I do wonder if being thrown into Kafei’s struggle in the blizzard could be a little jarring. I’m SURE there are numerous ways to smooth it out, but it’s just a little concern I have. it might not even BE all that sudden, and I might be imagining something different in my head…this isn’t helping is it?

    • It is smooth because last we see of him in Act I he’s running up the mountain after Sakon, or so he thinks. When the curtain rises in Act II, he’s in the snow. It’s a clear continuation.
      The short carpenter prologue would be purely instrumental with choir in the distance, no scene.

      • Oh, I guess I missed that, my bad.
        Knowing that, I’d say go with the second choice. :)

  3. dVanDaHorns Says:

    I see no problem with the rain falling at night rather than during the day. You’re using the Song of Storms as the melodic theme, which is a song that summons rain in-game. As such, you could have it raining during the snowstorm or indoors and no one would bat an eye.
    While the actual, natural rain occurs during the day in-game, I personally find nighttime rainstorms to have a lot more character than daytime rainstorms, and it could be played around with a lot more thematically with each of the different characters and voices during the nonet. (Also, a multi-voice piece of that magnitude, if written right, is one of the greatest way to sum up and end an act. Even from a non-musical point of view, it would be a lot more dramatic and epic than having it split into two themes throughout the day.)

  4. Anastas Says:

    Clearly Majora’s snowstorm fucks up the weather and causes the rain to be delayed, duh.

    Totally fits within the canon.

  5. Sun-Wukong Says:

    It occurs to me at this time that I’ve yet to actually comment on this blog, but rest assured that I’ve been following this project since the first demo came out and am very excited. I’ve actually told a few people about the project in person and posted about it on facebook, for what it’s worth. That’s right, I’m so excited and have so much faith, I talk about it in real life, and that’s saying something. Be proud, sir!

    Regarding this particular update, I’ve already voted in favor of brevity. I’m sure it would all be entertaining even if you left in both segments, but it would be better with the changes you’ve described.

  6. Miguel Jesus Says:

    The rainstorm intensifies the ending of the act, great! But I think the carpenters number could be on stage as long as it isn’t too long. We’ll have a lot of Kafei in act I and a lot of Kafei in act II, we could use a little break. If act II starts with a light affair (almost comical) then the blizzard will be even more chilling. I always felt the game benefits immensely from the variety in the characters and from juxtaposing their differences in the extreme, and what could be more contrasting than the sunny clocktown theme sung by those strong carpenters against the frail Kafei suffering a snowy prank from the crazy Majora?

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