Saturday, May 13, 2017

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, Coincidences in Fiction, and Human Behavior

Snow White should have asked more questions:
"Where exactly does that apple come from?"
I apply the same rule to "suspension of disbelief" as the courts do to "fruit of the poisonous tree."

Law & Order 101: the detectives discover evidence based on an illegal search warrant; the judge determines that since the warrant was illegal, anything coming from the warrant is also illegal.

BUT if the detectives/lawyers can prove that they would have come upon that evidence in a different, legal way, the evidence is allowed to stand. It is no longer "fruit of the poisonous tree."

I apply the same caveat to plot points that rely on coincidence, last minute revelations, or random miscommunications. The coincidence, last minute revelation, or random miscommunication leads to the murderer being caught, the hero/heroine being saved or the lovers miraculously changing their minds and not getting on the boat.

And I roll my eyes. Unless I decide that the outcome would have occurred anyway. Then, I let it go.

In Only the Ring Finger Knows, Wataru and Kazuki fall out of communication while Kazuki is in New York because Kazuki's friend's medical condition worsens; Kazuki then gets into a minor car accident and has to go to the hospital for X-Rays; then Kazuki assumes he'll have time to call Wataru about why he mailed back his ring but he ends up having to return to the hospital, etc. etc.

Kind of ridiculous. But the point is to highlight the tension that Wataru and Kazuki, an 18 and 19-year-old,  feel after being away from each other for so long and to point out the understandable fears and assumptions that a couple can develop apart. It is actually quite believable, however seemingly manufactured.

Likewise, Steel Lahti in Blue Sheep Reverie coincidentally taking Kai as his lover--before realizing that Kai has an ulterior motive--seems a bit daft until one realizes that Lahti already knew who Kai was (from Shiki) and was willing to run the not-too-terrible risk of keeping him close in order to discover Kai's intent (he runs a similar risk later with Salir--so his behavior is consistent).

Sometimes, when a possible plot point seems too outrageous--but I like the story anyway--I simply shorten the time frame in my head. So yes, okay, it is kind of difficult to believe that it would take over a year for someone to discover that Mizuki of Hana-Kimi is a girl in a rough and tumble boys' school. Still, women have passed as men before and if one simply decides that everything happened in about four months . . .

And sometimes--if I REALLY like the story--I just decide that the whole thing is taking place in some alternate universe where ordinary rules of probability apply differently. But not because the whole thing is a dream. Some rules have to apply; otherwise the story ceases to be fun at all.

See Votaries for non-manga examples.