Register Register

Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita  (Read 2076 times)

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« on: 28 November 2015, 23:50:49 »
Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
Who: Omiko “Omi” Kurita
What: Keeper of the Family Honour
When: 21 December 3028 – 15 March 3064
Weapon of Choice: Style
         Grace
         Poise
         Wit
         Charm

This, and the next few weeks, are requests from Wrangler, an interesting few characters worthy of consideration.

First up is Omi Kurita, one of those characters who does not clearly fit within the standard mould of Battletech characters in that she is neither militarily nor politically oriented.

This is not to say she sticks out or does not play an active role in the setting, though she is a part of a culture that does it’s best to limit the options of women in general she is well aware of the options she does have to pursue any agenda or goals she might have.

And being a Kurita almost all of these are to do with the wellbeing of the Draconis Combine. She seeks to strengthen alliances, cultural ties, promote her father’s liberalisation of Combine culture and so on, very in line with the duties of the Keeper of the Family Honour.

Something that marks her as different from most Kuritas is that she does not seek to strengthen the Combine at the expense of others. Anything but, while her culture is paramount she seeks to introduce allies to its beauty and strengths rather than impress it upon others and denigrate their culture.

So she is a very diplomatic character. Come to think of it she may be the only actual, functionally diplomatic character in the setting, everyone else is too egotistical, nationalistic or wrapped up in other things to try something as radical as charming someone without sinister intent and to mutual benefit.

Case in point are pretty much all her actions during the early years of the Clan War, which involve securing FedCom help to rescue her brother, providing motivation for her grandfather to hold the line and forging ties on Solaris.

These are not small things considering the isolationist, confrontational nature of the Draconis Combine.

Unfortunately the setting is a wargame, these are small potatoes.

At first blush there’s a contradiction there, she does important things, but they’re glossed over because of the nature of the game, in much the same way as Grayson Carlyle’s legacy is tainted and lost because the mercenary unit he founded is destroyed even though he released the setting altering Helm Memory Core.

It also speaks of Omi’s nature as a support character. She’s not there to take the limelight, that’s the place for main characters, protagonists and antagonists. So however important she is, however grand her endeavours are, they’re just not going to have the same impact until a person of importance to the storyline gets involved.

She arranges FedCom assistance in rescuing her brother, giving Victor Steiner-Davion the opportunity to make a hitherto for unthinkable move of rescuing the heir to his nation’s greatest enemy, a grand diplomatic and military endeavour, overshadowing Omi’s grand diplomatic endeavour.

Omi stays in the Imperial Palace to encourage grandfather Takashi to hold the line, giving her father leverage to manipulate/command the elder (superior ranked) and contentious Kurita during battle, and, more immediately important to the story, putting protagonist Shin Yodama in the difficult position of delivering those orders, revealing Omi’s position and possibly having to blow up Takashi thanks to a bomb under his command couch if the old man didn’t hold to. Dramatic stuff.

However this is not the only role Omi plays as a support character, it is not even her main role.

Clearly Omi’s function within the setting is that of love interest for the main character, Victor Steiner-Davion, and naturally, since he is a major character, romance cannot be simple or straight forward. Let’s be honest, no real relationship ever would be, but in fiction his love life must be especially fraught because nothing can ever be easy or normal for the main character.

That isn’t really a criticism; stories are told about interesting people at interesting times of their lives while interesting things happen around and to them. A normal, a dull, or an exciting relationship has to work with that.

Did he have to fall in love with the offspring of his nation’s most hated enemy?

As Jamie Lannister once wisely said: “You can’t help who you fall in love with”.

Less flippantly, no, there were other writing options that would have been dramatic, but Victor is written as a science fiction hero of the fantastic variety, everything about his life is Epic so every event in his life is going to be Epic, including the difficulties with his love life.

One positive side effect of this is that Omi must herself be a worthy character to this sort of Epicness, or else the romantic plotline falls flat at best or is horribly jarring with the rest of the story.

So she can’t be the helpless, swooning female, the ever in need of rescue love interest, or the delicate flower in need of perpetual protection.

She is in need of perpetual protection but that’s because of her father’s enemies, Victor’s enemies, invading Clans and a dozen other reasons that have nothing to do with her gender and position within the setting. And more than once she has made moves to defend herself, even killing a would be assassin.

It is hard to distinguish though; it can seem that plot and setting have conspired so that she can be the damsel in distress while camouflaging the fact.

And the truth is she is the product of a fairly sexist culture that has curtailed her options in life, but at the same time has left an opening for her to excel and pursue her own agenda should she choose, which she does as the plot dictates.

Again though, she is ultimately a support character, her life is bound by the dictates of plot centred on others, it’s just a matter of whether she is portrayed as a strong individual separate from those others or not.

So it is very much in the mind of the reader as to whether or not Omi is a strong character in her own right. The dictates of the stories means that she is only involved where Victor is involved, any other use moves her out of being a love interest for better or worse.

At the same time she is shown leading her own life. She even decided to keep Victor’s son a secret from him, proving that she had her own ideas about things rather than surrendering all options to him.

That last one is somewhat questionable, at least to me and for personal reasons, but it’s the rare character that isn’t somewhat contentious. But then that’s one of the motivating reasons for her to come to that conclusion, it’s within character, being pragmatic, but also separates her from the fully altruistic, all giving, self-sacrificing love interest.

Thankfully Omi is at least not a source of contention in and of herself within the relationship. Most often a love interest that is intended to be strong and independent does so by doing things that aggravate situations or their paramours in some form. Omi is largely supportive of Victor and if anything is a source of stability for him.

So does this mean she was killed just to pull the rug out from him at the worst possible time?

Yes.

Bluntly put it’s the natural dramatic conclusion to this romantic arc. While they fit together so perfectly as people Victor and Omi’s relationship is fraught by circumstance, so much so that it is difficult if not impossible to see how they could just settle down and enjoy life somewhere.

Yes, Victor gives up the throne, becomes Precentor Martial full time or just somehow manages to retire (ha!) and joins Omi on Luthien since she is far more tied to her duties (can cause less personal and public strife), though retirement for her is also a distant option.

But that’s boring. Seriously. They live happily ever after is not a viable option.

Quite aside from the dramatic aspect Victor is one of the most contentious individuals in the setting by virtue of being Victor. Retirement on Luthien, or anywhere in the Combine would have three factions if not more arguing for his removal/rescue. Likewise Omi, who would be harder to fit into the Republic given her position as Keeper, the politics are just against them.

So having Omi die, since she contributes less to the setting as a character without military or political impact compared to Victor, is a natural outcome and serves dramatic purpose.

And given events during the Jihad her absence is something that probably continued to hurt Victor, Hohiro, the Federated Suns, the Draconis Combine and a host of other factions just because this level headed individual wasn’t there to help smooth things over.

Considering that events of the Jihad and the formation of the Republic relied on a general absence of level headed individuals odds are she may have died a far less notable death during the Jihad if the assassin hadn’t gotten to her.

And the means of her death, assassination, that makes sense given she was normally so far away from frontlines, or any action at all and that while not political there are many who would want her out of the way to avoid complications to politics she represents.

More specifically she dies repositioning a stone in her garden given to her by Victor. The assassin knew this would be perfect bait and she was unfortunately true to prediction.

As both means and method it’s actually quite clever, and linking it to a gift from Victor twists the knife in him as well, compounding the emotional hit.

From a writing perspective Omi’s death is the logical conclusion of her arc, she does not serve a purpose within the setting outside of being Victor’s lover and a diplomatic influence. As stated the latter is a hindrance to what follows and the former has been explored as much as it can.

Seriously. Victor and Omi have survived invading armies, angry parents, angry traditionalists, assassins, at this point there’s nothing that can try to break them up that isn’t going to come from nowhere or be wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s hard to say if she’s a flat character or not, being as she is supposed to be a reserved individual by upbringing, and surrounded by major protagonists as she is then naturally she is going to seem rather bland by comparison.

Additionally as the love interest of a major protagonist in the middle of Epic doings there is a risk that making her too interesting, so to speak, will distract or detract from him.

Some romantic interest support characters can run off and have their own arcs, some cannot, and considering that Omi is introduced in the Blood of Kerensky trilogy where the story is fed by following four major protagonists in various fields of battle, exploring the new enemy then having a fifth who is working in a different area, away from this new and interesting enemy/faction overloads the story.

To that end Omi serves her purpose, she is a strong romantic and support character, she does not overshadow other characters but provides impetus and important assistance, progressing the plot where needed with skills only she can supply. So while her depth could be debated there is no doubt she is a solid and constructive influence on the storyline at large.

Next week Isis Marik.

Maelwys

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 4508
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #1 on: 29 November 2015, 01:11:57 »
I'm not sure how true it is, but I can't help but think that Omi is one of the few times where a non-warrior character in BT is considered in a sympathetic light. Normally they're considered scheming politicians, but Omi manages to avoid that.

Of course, thinking about that, I suppose the same could be said about Isis Marik as well.

SteelRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6785
  • Fight for something or Die for nothing
    • The Steel-Raven at DeviantArt
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #2 on: 29 November 2015, 02:26:58 »
Very good article, manage to overlooked Omi's strength myself and looked at the character as a cliche Juliet . You just don't often think of the diplomats in the BTU
Battletech Art and Commissions
http://steel-raven.deviantart.com

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #3 on: 30 November 2015, 04:18:21 »
It's very easy to overlook Omi because she doesn't make an impact in the same fashion as other characters and quite frankly the setting tends to gloss over everyone who isn't military or political. The odd trader or other civilian may get wrapped up in things but only when drawn into the orbit of more typical Battletech characters.

That comes across as a criticism, but it's just an observation, any setting will have a focus, and trying to flesh things out too much dilutes the focus. Better to try and bring these other aspects of the setting, the less central ones, into view however you can than shoehorning them into situations where they would overload things.

marauder648

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 6384
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #4 on: 30 November 2015, 04:32:49 »
Sadly because i've not read many of the novels since the Clan invasion ones I'm not really up to date on who folks are but this is still a damn nice article :)
Ghost Bears: Cute and cuddly. Until you remember its a BLOODY BEAR!

smcwatt

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 131
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #5 on: 01 December 2015, 19:33:56 »
So essentially, she was fridged to make the FCCW "really personal", because the assassination of Melissa S-D wasn't traumatic enough.

SMc.

Wrangler

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 17144
  • Dang it!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #6 on: 01 December 2015, 20:06:28 »
Another piece of legacy she left in the universe, was her once secret and only child. Kitsune Kurita, whom at one point was considered to be Coordinator for the Draconis Combine, until he revealed his true father really was.  >:D

Thanks for taking my request, Grey!
"Men, fetch the Urbanmechs.  We have an interrogation to attend to." - jklantern
"How do you defeat a Dragau? Shoot the damn thing. Lots." - Jellico 
"No, it's a "Most Awesome Blues Brothers scene Reenactment EVER" waiting to happen." VotW Destrier - Weirdo  
"It's 200 LY to Sian, we got a full load of shells, a half a platoon of Grenadiers, it's exploding outside, and we're wearing flak jackets." VoTW Destrier - Misterpants

solmanian

  • Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 2465
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #7 on: 01 December 2015, 20:57:07 »
Among the Kurita family, it's common to hide potential heirs, with their true identities sometime even hidden from themselves. So I can understand why she hid him. And Victor probably wouldn't have gone for it, so she simply cut him out of it.
Making the dark age a little brighter, one explosion at a time.
Have you met the clans? Words like "Naïve" and "misguided" are not enough to describe the notion that a conquest of the IS by the clans would result in a Utopian pacifistic society.

MoneyLovinOgre4Hire

  • Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 16728
  • Wipe your mouth!
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #8 on: 01 December 2015, 21:48:41 »
So essentially, she was fridged to make the FCCW "really personal", because the assassination of Melissa S-D wasn't traumatic enough.

SMc.

Yeah, and that's what always bothered me about her death (that and the Dancing Joker's ridiculous ability to infiltrate and assassinate anyone, anywhere).  She wasn't killed because of anything about her, her death was entirely about Victor.
Warning: this post may contain sarcasm.

"I think I've just had another near-Rincewind experience," Death, The Color of Magic

Kitsune413

  • Major
  • *
  • Posts: 5004
  • Diamond Khanate Sakhan
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #9 on: 01 December 2015, 23:52:25 »
Very good article, manage to overlooked Omi's strength myself and looked at the character as a cliche Juliet . You just don't often think of the diplomats in the BTU

The recently assassinated Jessica Halas-Marik is also a powerful diplomat... Trillian Steiner is an interesting diplomat. Katherine Steiner-Davion is pretty well known and acknowledged.
Every man lives by exchanging - Adam Smith

Avitue

  • Sergeant
  • *
  • Posts: 111
  • Avitue's Avenging Angels
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #10 on: 02 December 2015, 00:50:38 »
Another piece of legacy she left in the universe, was her once secret and only child. Kitsune Kurita, whom at one point was considered to be Coordinator for the Draconis Combine, until he revealed his true father really was.  >:D

Thanks for taking my request, Grey!

That was a hilarious thing, yes. Along with the multiple cases of seppuku among the radicals that backed him when they horrifyingly found out that they tried to back a DAVION into the coordinator's throne.  :D

SteelRaven

  • Lieutenant Colonel
  • *
  • Posts: 6785
  • Fight for something or Die for nothing
    • The Steel-Raven at DeviantArt
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #11 on: 02 December 2015, 01:49:29 »
The recently assassinated Jessica Halas-Marik is also a powerful diplomat... Trillian Steiner is an interesting diplomat. Katherine Steiner-Davion is pretty well known and acknowledged.
Katherine played at being a diplomat while starting wars ans assassinating others (like Omi) Jessica Marik and Trillian Steiner do allot of diplomacy but they have the benefit of playing a more central role to the oncoming military conflict between the new FWL and the LC.
Battletech Art and Commissions
http://steel-raven.deviantart.com

Grey

  • Warrant Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 534
Re: Character Study of the Week: Omi Kurita
« Reply #12 on: 02 December 2015, 03:23:18 »
The recently assassinated Jessica Halas-Marik is also a powerful diplomat... Trillian Steiner is an interesting diplomat. Katherine Steiner-Davion is pretty well known and acknowledged.


True, but all three were political operators, Omi never had that aspect to her.

Though arguably all politicians, or leaders of any stripe, need to act as diplomats on occasion Omi never led anyone or anything in the traditional sense. If anything she was a master of suggesting an act in such a way that a character saw the wisdom in following it.

And as a support character her death was almost never going to be about her, everything about Omi is about others, which means she was almost certainly going to die in a manner connected to Victor, though someone making stabs at Theodore or even Hohiro were not outside chances.

 

Register