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branchandroot: oak against sky (Default)
[personal profile] branchandroot
And here’s where I run into problems with anything that moves Jingrui’s relationships to somewhere they are not currently: Jingrui takes things at face value. He’s not dumb or unsophisticated; on the contrary, he observes quite accurately that, for example, Su Zhe does not particularly like (or suit) working for Prince Yu. But it’s Yujin, not Jingrui, who spots that maybe Su /isn’t/. Jingrui is trusting to an alarming extent, considering his family.

This suggests to me that both sides of his family, and in fact everyone else of his acquaintance, have deliberately kept him out of Serious Business concerns, and have probably done so from day one. It further suggests that, despite that, he’s gotten regular confirmation that he’s valued and loved. Watching the way he interacts with everyone except the Marquis, even while things are falling apart and blowing up, I think we can bet on this–there’s been a feedback loop there, his whole life, in which Jingrui is open hearted and is therefore cherished by his family, and therefore keeps being open hearted and trusting, and is therefore sheltered, and so on.

Which means that Jingrui probably also has a tendency to go with the flow and trust that everything will turn out, until or unless he’s whacked over the head with something that is clearly Wrong in some way. (Jingrui inspires me to use capitals, too.) So shifting his relationship with Yujin, especially if we assume Yujin has been taking some trouble to be a bit misdirecting thanks to his fear to screwing things up, is… going to take some work, let’s put it that way.

I do find it interesting that Jingrui apparently idolized Lin Shu (at least, Yujin says he was the one always running after Lin Shu, and dragging Yujin along), and keeps idolizing him, even in disguise. Jingrui might not /do/ the incisive insight thing, but he does seem to /respect/ it, very highly. (One possibility here: that he notices this characteristic as it comes out more strongly in Yujin.) I suspect part of Jingrui’s youthful cousin-crush was also that Lin Shu was already in the military. Jingrui gets the warrior thing from both sides of his family, both the in-system and out-system versions. I suspect the military is genuinely Jingrui’s career goal, insofar as he has one; the camaraderie of soldiers, as presented in the story, seems very like what Jingrui values in his relationships, and it’s what he’s been raised to. (Alternate possibility: Jingrui and Yujin’s squads can’t take the pining any longer and set them up.)

So, if Yujin is currently Prince Ji’s understudy, I kind of think Jingrui is Meng’s. The trick will be moving them both toward a little conjoint personal development when both characters have so much inertia built up in their current positions.

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Date: 2017-06-20 11:29 pm (UTC)
maat_seshat: Winged Maat sitting (Default)
From: [personal profile] maat_seshat
Hmm. I think you're placing Jingrui within "normal society" more than I would. We see him rhapsodizing often over the value of freedom: when Xie Yu starts to scold him for missing a festival upon his return to Jinling, when he thinks idealistically that his father has remained independent of factional entanglement, when he tries to get Mei Changsu to stay out of politics. The army is...about as tied down as you can get: Meng Zhi survives at his post before Mei Changsu's arrival because everyone knows he's loyal to no one but the emperor, and then after MCS's arrival because he's loyal enough to Lin Shu to follow his plans without understanding their effects. Even at the end, once Jingrui has acknowledged that true freedom is an illusion, he still makes his own choices: he won't criticize his mother for refusing to present Xie Yu's confession, but he won't agree with her either.

By the end of the show, Jingrui has so many connections that he can't remain unambiguously loyal to a single one: he kneels to his Zhuo family, then he goes to Southern Chu for his father, promises to remain in touch with Yujin (and keeps the promise), and finally comes back to Liang for his mother, but he doesn't go collect Xie Yu's remains and can't speak for the Xie family in the final banquet scene, because his status is too ambiguous. He doesn't have the singular tie that binds Meng Zhi and Lin Shu to the Chiyan army, or Jingyan to the Liang realm, or even the cleanly split tie that makes Nihuang equally Mu and Lin (and nothing else), and he doesn't seem to be looking for it either: he's loyal to individuals and to principles, but I think he fits the rootless heroism of the jianghu world more than the structure of the army.

(Basically, you just posted really interesting meta on Dreamwidth, so I'm engaging! Feel free to tell me to shush on your thinking aloud. :) )

Date: 2017-06-22 12:59 am (UTC)
maat_seshat: Winged Maat sitting (Default)
From: [personal profile] maat_seshat
Heh. That is an amusing image. (Also, isn't that what Li Gang is? Except rather than being exasperated at MCS's idealism, he's exasperated at his cleverness.)

The structure of the military in the show is a fascinating mess, a weird combination of bureaucratic and feudal. The border armies are clearly feudal, to judge by the examples of the Mu army and the Chiyan army, with inherited authority over that particular army, an emphasis on loyalty to its commander, and often some relationship (younger bio son, adoptive, marital, fictive, etc.) to the imperial family. The internal armies, like the one that Xu Anmo got put in charge of or the one that Jingyan summoned, though, seem like much more bureaucratic creatures. It's a neat allusion to the classic idea of Tang armies, whereby great magnates were set to guard the borders, while the connection between commanders and men in the internal garrisons was more tenuous. Or, really, it's an idealization of the Han military that lots of other dynasties try to reproduce until they discover that those great border armies make lovely bases from which to foment coups and try to centralize. (Yes, I'm a geek.) Point being that the tension between loyalty to the state or the commander is kind of baked into the system. I doubt Jingrui would be able to serve unless he trusted his entire chain of command, so the number of people under whom he could serve is...limited. Meng, Lin Shu, or Nihuang, pretty much. :-)

You're definitely right that Jingrui's attitude toward freedom changes over the course of the show. Does he really decide that he doesn't want it, though? Or does he just come to a better understanding of its price? When he goes to Chu, Niannian wants to get him there in hopes that he'll stay, but he explicitly goes with a plan to return. Then once he comes back, he tells his mother that he won't judge her choices but refuses to tell her that he would do the same. To me, that suggests a more conscious sense of where he fits within society, combined with a choice not to let his position (or any individual) dictate his choices.

Date: 2017-06-22 04:30 pm (UTC)
maat_seshat: Winged Maat sitting (Default)
From: [personal profile] maat_seshat
*snerk* But that's the fun of historical fiction/fantasy! You get to throw in all the worldbuilding tropes! And to be entirely fair, you don't have to go all the way back to Qin: the implicit mission to unite China in a time of division runs powerfully through any telling of Chinese history, so it fits perfectly into the pseudo-Northern/Southern courts era that Hai Yan uses.

That's actually one of my favorite things about the show, is how good her sense of where she can bend history and where she can't. Much more of a Guy Gavriel Kay medieval than a Robert Jordan one.

I look forward to seeing Meng and Jingrui interact!

Date: 2017-06-23 04:25 pm (UTC)
sabriel: Kuroshitsuji - lighting a fire (Kuroshitsuji - lighting a fire)
From: [personal profile] sabriel
To be honest I don't think Jingrui's cut out for the army because loyalty there tends to work in a more out of obligation than brotherhood. Though if the commander is good (and Meng is VERY GOOD), brotherhood would come out of it anyway, but the obligation will always be there, if that makes any sense.

Rather, I could see MCS grooming Jinrui as his successor in the pugilist world, to take over the jianzhuo alliance. Before the matter of his birth came up, Jingrui was essentially straddling both the pugilist world and high society. After the circumstances of his birth came out, his place in high society (and hence the court) would have been very awkward. (People would be polite to him because of his upbringing and his mother's rank, but still.) I have no doubt Jingrui would be able to work his way up the army or court but he doesn't seem like the type to enjoy it. Of course, the obligation to obey your leader also exists in the pugilist world, but the rules are much more lax there.

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