Be a Man was one of the three unusual stories I began on March 1, 2014 (the other two being From Magic to Monsters and The Perfect Lifeform). This story was not very similar to the other two, which were both told through character studies or histories. Be a Man is an epistolary novel about General Blue. I don't know exactly what prompted me to think up this idea or decide on making it into a story. I like General Blue as a character and found his relationship with Samuel (admittedly, a dub thing) to be quite interesting. I guess that's what made me make it into a story, though I don't remember what influenced me to do it it in epistolary form. The name is a rather obvious reference to I'll Make a Man Out of You, one of the greatest Disney songs of all time. It's a somewhat dark reference to General Blue being gay and not being seen as a "man" by his parents because of that.
At first, I wrote only a few postcards of one year of the story. But after I completed From Magic to Monsters, I focused on writing each year at one time. I then completed the first year (737), and when I did the next year, I did all postcards at once. For the following eight years, I did the same thing - all postcards for the year were done at the same time. I wrote the chapters directly on the wiki. I never had them on a document or anything like that. In terms of how many postcards I wrote per year, I knew that the early years would feature more postcards and the later years would feature less. I used the dates of the postcards as a way to gauge how many postcards there would be for each year.
I didn't have many plots figured out for this story before writing it. I knew that I wanted to use as many canon characters as possible, so that's why Dark, Gero, Capsule Corp., and Boss Rabbit were all in this. I worked very hard to find characters like Boss Rabbit who could be fit into the story seamlessly. Additionally, I tried to tie this story in with The Perfect Lifeform since Gero's son is in both. Gero's son was revealed in a Toriyama interview (much like how the thing about the Majins not being created by Bibidi, but being summoned instead was (which influenced From Magic to Monsters)) and I definitely wanted to use him in both stories. He's more important here than in TPL, though. I used him as a means to get Blue his psychic abilities. I think that was a rather clever way to include Gero's son and to explain Blue's unexplained psychic powers.
One last thing I want to mention is the postcard template itself. I put a lot of work into making it look like it does, especially with the sizing and the use of a different font within the postcards. It was a very important part of this story. If the postcard template didn't work, then the story wouldn't. Be a Man wouldn't be right as just paragraphs of text under headers. I used postcards my own dad had sent me when I was much younger as a reference for how I styled the template. I think it came out rather lovely, though it doesn't work with multiple headers. Because of that, the below chapters are split up by tabs. Just click on the below tabs to see my commentaries on each years' postcards.
I had more pleasure re-reading Be a Man for this commentary than I did writing it. Be a Man was very hard for me to write. The emotional scenes were a great drain on me; creating the postcard template was a long, arduous process; coming up with the plot wasn't so easy either. But looking at it from the perspective of a reader, I can appreciate what I managed to do. Thematically, there's a lot of complex and often contrasting things going on. Blue gets fascinating character development in this story. The way he talks to the Red Ribbon Army soldiers, contrasting with how he talks to Samuel, and with how he talks to his mother illustrates how complex a person General Blue is. All of the neat little references, be they in-universe (Monster Carrot, King Chappa, Gero, etc) or in relation to my other fanons (Kindler's birth, Spindlerun, etc) were really cool. This is one of the most unique stories on the wiki, but I think it's also one of the best. The themes are strong, even though this is told in the form of postcards - don't let the epistolary form fool you, this story has a lot of depth to it. One area I wish I could have done differently was with Blue's notes to himself. They were built up to well enough (with the psychic implants giving him memory loss), but it still would have been more ideal if he had never needed to write any of those. Maybe if I had another character introduced early on that he could talk to (maybe the boy his mother found him sleeping with?) via postcards, I could have got through this story without the self-notes. Still, I think this story is pretty rad, overall. I dig it. I would give Be a Man an S-.
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