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G056 - Takahara, Asuka[/DECEASED]; Zetsumodernista's character
Topic Started: Aug 14 2016, 08:02 AM (260 Views)
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DECEASED


Name: Asuka Takahara
Gender: Female
Age: 17
Grade: 12
School: Cochise High School
Hobbies and Interests: Literature, philosophy, drawing, blogging

Appearance: At 5' 2" and 98 pounds, Asuka Takahara's slight frame holds little fat and less muscle. Asuka's shoulder-length hair is jet-black and streaked with blue, with choppily-cut bangs that fall just short of her eyes. Naturally wavy, her hair frequently has a wind-tousled appearance, partly due to lack of care and partly because Asuka dislikes overly-styled hair. She has an oval face and is overall soft-featured, with large brown eyes, small nose and mouth, and a rather weak chin. She has pale skin and wears a minimum of makeup, using it mostly to even out her complexion. Asuka typically has a slight slouch, and, when engaged in her surroundings, has a small half-smile that she likes to describe as melancholic. More often, she has a blank, spaced-out expression on her face, with glazed-over eyes and neutral features. In the fashion department, she is a minimalist, with no piercings or jewelry. She habitually wears long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer, but her wardrobe otherwise seems fairly random and thoughtlessly put together. At second glance, her clothing is almost universally oversized so as to cover as much skin as possible, allowing her to physically hide herself from the world. Her outfit, while not particularly well-coordinated, is also not erratic enough to stand out, and Asuka takes care to keep it nondescript. On the day of the trip, she was wearing a light grey cardigan, dark red T-shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. She normally wears glasses, but eschewed them for contacts on the trip.

Biography: The single child of a mid-level salaryman and an office lady, Asuka was born in Tokyo, Japan with little fanfare. While her parents’ marriage wasn’t an arranged one in the strictest sense of the term, both married more out of a sense of duty and propriety than out of any real passion, and Asuka was conceived for similar reasons. Asuka's parents were among the many laid off when the Japanese economy crashed in the 90's, and, when a business partner of their firm in California proved sympathetic and willing to hire them, they had no choice but to accept and take the 3-year-old Asuka with them. Four years later, a management position at the same firm opened up in Kingman, and, while Mr. Takahara was reluctant to relocate his family once again, the opportunity once again proved too good to pass up.

Throughout her busy childhood, Asuka saw limited interaction with her workaholic parents, both of whom tended to work overtime and come home after dusk, leaving Asuka at the YMCA after school until she could be picked up. Introverted from a young age, Asuka found herself overwhelmed by the energy of other screaming children, and often found herself wandering the hallways in a daze or reading/playing make-believe in an empty classroom rather than participating in the YMCA activities. Asuka quickly developed a reputation as a loner, a reputation that she was well-aware of and did little to discourage, given her preference for peace and quiet. While rarely perceived as mean or rude, she seemed rather cold and aloof to her classmates. Unlike many of the other loners in her elementary school, Asuka largely escaped the attention of bullies, who found her to be an uninteresting target. Her propensity for detaching herself from her surroundings allowed her to ignore most of the abuse and remain impassive even when the bullies demanded her attention.

Though her parents were forced by their demanding work schedule to take a relatively lax, hands-off approach to Asuka's upbringing, they made sure to impress upon her the importance of hard work and education to success. Asuka complied, though she was motivated more by the fear of being seen as a failure by others than by a genuine desire for success. Academically gifted, Asuka nevertheless had little interest in the learning material itself in elementary school—a genuine love for learning would develop later. In her early years, Asuka studied hard mostly because her self-esteem hinged on her grades. In rationalizing her relative unpopularity, the young Asuka would often tell herself that she was simply more mature than her classmates, more focused on the long-term goals than having fun, and that she was making the smarter choice for her future in staying distant. In truth, she craved validation from her classmates in spite of her introverted nature, and absent this she turned to her grades as her primary source of validation.

Asuka was a bookworm from an early age. While this was partly due to her need to think of herself as an intellectual, the more important reason was a simple love for reading. Asuka had a tendency to shun media that she considered less academic, and thus had a tendency to write off comic books, TV shows, and movies as shallow and brainless without actually reading or watching them. She was indiscriminate in her reading choices, so long as she considered what she was reading a book, and grew up primarily reading science fiction and fantasy.

Middle school brought little change for Asuka, except for the larger environment. Finding that its size made middle school much more impersonal than elementary school, Asuka was almost a non-entity in middle school, disappearing into the background. Unwilling to become more outgoing to compensate for the change, Asuka instead withdrew even more into herself, to the point that she had fewer acquaintances than most of her peers had friends. More reliant on her academic self-image to buoy her self-esteem than ever, Asuka was also now mature and self-aware enough to realize that plenty of other students with good grades were quite popular.

Finding herself with an abundance of free time due to her easy schoolwork and non-existent social life, Asuka turned to drawing to pass the time, starting in 7th grade. At the time, it was little more than a casual interest; while she looked up drawing tutorials occasionally, she didn't mind too much when she couldn't master the techniques she learned. She was primarily interested in sketching scenes from stories she had read or imagined, so that she could better visualize what happened in them. Once she had completed a scene well enough to visualize it, she had little interest in perfecting it. To her, the perfect version of the drawing was already in her head, and putting it to paper was unnecessary.

When she entered high school, Asuka Takahara was a shy, insecure student with a shaken worldview who largely preferred the company of books to people. It was at Cochise High that Asuka’s current personality took shape. Having grown increasingly disinterested in the success emphasized by her parents due to years of watching them return from work stressed out, weary, and bitter, Asuka was overcome by a feeling of ennui and, as such, latched onto existential philosophy the minute she discovered it. Asuka, whose disillusionment with success had gradually transformed first into a general abandonment of goals and then into a creeping sense of nihilism, found in existentialism the sense of purpose and affirmation she had been looking for, and while her interests would eventually expand to other branches of philosophy, she would always hold existentialism as the most important. With her embracing of existentialism came a rejection of many of her past values. Traditional notions of success now seemed hollow; her pretensions towards intellectual superiority, absurd; her aloofness, pointlessly unfriendly. Asuka had become obsessed with the idea of authenticity, and with that came a need to question the intrinsic value behind everything she was taught to be important, frequently joking that “X is a social construct”.

Asuka, in re-examining her values and determining their meaning to her, became highly introspective, and her previously aimless daydreams now focused sharply on figuring out what her values meant to her, where she stood in relation to her values, and determining who she was and what mattered to her as a person. Where previously she had disregarded and sometimes even suppressed her emotions, Asuka had now given herself over to analyzing her emotions and, by extension, listening to their demands. Her new mindset has made her far less antisocial, and while she is still shy and disdainful of what she considers shallow conversation, she is more cautious in assigning the label 'shallow' and has shed her belief that she had ever been any more rational than her peers.

With Asuka's discovery of philosophy came a shift in her interest in reading. She never lost interest in science-fiction and fantasy books, but her horizons broadened greatly. She quickly found an affinity for postmodernist literature and its rejection of objective interpretations and commitment to uncertainty. She also learned to love the Beat writers for their rejection of traditional values, and her favorite novels are Kerouac’s On the Road and Pynchon’s V. She also found, to her delight, that many of the comic books she had snobbishly rejected in elementary and middle school were excellent works in their own right, and she has taken to praising Moore’s Watchmen and Asano’s Oyasumi Punpun whenever possible, in her efforts to promote comics as high art.

Beginning in 10th grade, Asuka became increasingly tired and apathetic, falling asleep in class even when well-rested and using her lunch break to nap rather than eat. She also found herself unable to muster the energy to engage in even her favorite activities, and saw her marks plummet from A's to a mix of B's and C's. After a full month in which she did practically nothing but sleep after coming home from school, Asuka concluded that she had depression. While Asuka herself was painfully aware that depression doesn't require external factors, she nevertheless searches for them in an attempt to validate her feelings, as depression carries a strong stigma in Japanese culture and she has thus never seen a psychiatrist or gotten formally diagnosed. She views the burnout caused by her pursuing a goal she had long since lost interest in and the sense of alienation that came with being extremely withdrawn from the world around her as major contributing factors. Philosophy did little to comfort her, as finding subjective meaning and reveling in uncertainty meant little when Asuka essentially found all aspects of her life meaningless.

During and after her worst depressive spells, Asuka tended to negate the value of the external world, an outlook she would later go on to call “solipsistic nihilism”. These spells were characterized by an extreme withdrawal into herself, and a denial that there was anything of value to be found outside of the self. For the first time in years, she would take nihilism seriously; the notion that life was intrinsically meaningless no longer seemed absurd. While Asuka’s depression never worsened enough to make her seriously consider suicide, it was sufficient to make her apathetic towards life.

What enabled Asuka to manage and cope with, if not entirely overcome, her depression was her newfound interest in blogging. She found in the unpolished, rambling blog posts of Tumblr a kind of intimacy she had only rarely come upon before, and she met many teens that she felt a close kinship for. With a community that she felt understood her and an outlet for her emotions, Asuka began to reassert some control over her life, turning to drawing webcomics as a way to vent the thoughts and feelings she had never felt comfortable sharing with her peers. Although taking the time to actually improve her drawing skills was taxing, it proved worthwhile. Although Asuka would hesitate to describe her art as any more than 'functional', it still represents a massive improvement over her old work. However, this approach has had its drawbacks. Her reluctance to advertise her comics at school means that she feels little external obligation to finish her various projects, which are typically abandoned when Asuka no longer enjoys making them. As a result of the many half-finished and just-started comics sitting on her computer, Asuka’s drawing is also a point of insecurity, as she is deeply afraid that she is incapable of accomplishing anything meaningful.

Now in her senior year, Asuka remains shy and withdrawn, though she makes a point of joining conversations when they turn towards more personal subjects and has attempted to open up a little to her classmates. Her reluctance to judge others has given her a reputation as a good confidante. Despite her dislike of cliques, Asuka has a tendency to associate with the intellectuals and nerds of the school, but gets along fairly well with everyone, so long as she doesn’t consider them to be needlessly cruel. Asuka prides herself on being a walking mess of contradictions, and while she craves to be understood, she also fears being understood too easily. A self-professed romantic with a histrionic flair who despises unnecessary drama and a cool-headed intellectual who prioritizes emotion over reason, Asuka also lays claim to being a trusting skeptic, a cynical idealist, and an optimistic depressant. While she is acutely aware that others are equally unique, she is glad for the boost in self-esteem this self-image gives her and thus continues to value it.

Asuka remains rather cautious about expressing her emotions in public, though she admires those who do so in a constructive way. She tends to look down on people who emote too strongly or easily, however, feeling that doing so is petty and selfish, as it devalues situations that deserve stronger emotions. Asuka is now relatively at ease, as reflected by her grades, which have steadily crept back into the A range in all subjects but science, which she has little interest in, as she thinks it focuses too much on real-life application and memorizing details. Though she is less smug about her academics, she still frowns upon students who are less academically motivated than her, as she believes their disdain is based on misconceptions of intellectualism. She hopes to become a college professor in literature or philosophy, and plans to attend UC Berkeley once high school ends. Although she would never tell anyone, she is quite eager and relieved to leave Kingman behind. Although she liked many of the people there on an individual basis, the rural, conservative town did not sit well with the girl’s outlook.

Advantages: Despite her shyness, Asuka gets along easily with most of her peers. She can be very level-headed and logical when the need arises, and her tendency to question everything gives her flexibility and and adaptability. She is also very self-aware, which would allow her to mitigate the effects of her disadvantages to some extent.
Disadvantages: Asuka is physically very weak, and could be easily crippled by her depression if it intensifies. She also tends to freeze up when she has to make decisions without thinking them through. Though she tries to avoid it, Asuka can be rather pretentious and can sometime overestimate her intelligence or underestimate that of others.

Designated Number: Female student No. 056

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Designated Weapon: Mauser C96
Conclusion: Regardless of whether she thinks her life has an inherent meaning or not, I believe she'll discover an exciting new purpose pretty quickly: delivering that gun to someone more deserving. - Trent Camden


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