Act 5 Act 1, Part 5 of 7
Pages 2323-2406 (MSPA: 4223-4306)
Nine trolls down, three to go. After a fair amount of time getting to know some lunatic trolls we’ve never heard from before, we finally get to know the one who has a thing for Rose.
Kanaya Maryam is strongly emphasized in her introduction page to be an unusual troll in many ways. She enjoys the rays of the sun, has a taste in fashion, has a rare blood caste, has an exceptionally rare mother grub lusus, enjoys odd literature just like Rose, and also has knowledge of stuff through dreams just like Jade. Going by her introduction page—which uses the phrase “you are one of the few of your kind” five times—she’s essentially a combination of the two human girls (while Karkat might be thought of as a combination of the two boys). It’s worth noting that her introduction is much later than that of each of the other trolls we heard from in Acts 3 and 4. I think this might have been done to establish her as a troll who is very much unlike most of the others. Her status as such is interesting because while at this point it’s very heavily emphasized, I’m not sure how relevant it is to her role in the story. The big thing about her is her affiliation with motherhood, tying directly in with her role as a space player, and her supposed role in reviving the troll race. She also gets a distinctive honor of being part of one of very few pairings (Kanaya/Rose) that has stayed sturdy for a long time and continues to be that way; it seems like nobody can stay mad at the fact that those two are together. That relationship is noted for its strength, how it stays in place through hardships and through retcons. Also, I said two posts ago that she’s portrayed as one of the few sensible trolls as shown in a conversation with Vriska, not to mention humorous in her own subtly scornful way. Overall, she’s definitely one of the more likable trolls.
After we learn about Kanaya’s lipstick chainsaw thing (one of many Problem Sleuth references), we finally get an impression of one of those trolls who lives underwater or something. Feferi talks about how excited she is to start playing that game, and we learn that she is yet another one of the trolls who knows stuff about the game in advance. It seems like so many of the trolls are in the loop on the game’s conspiracies, it’s hard to remember them all. I totally forgot that Feferi has this kind of knowledge, by which I guess I mean that I wasn’t really aware that Feferi was one of the trolls with such knowledge until now. They go on to discuss their respective sources of knowledge (Skaia’s clouds and Gl’bgolyb).
Kanaya goes downstairs to see her lusus dying, which she knew what happened. It would be cool to see all the rooms she has below her bedroom like we did with Jade, but we don’t. I’ve been meaning to mention that while we get to see lots of rooms of the beta kids’ homes, Karkat, Equius, and Vriska are the only trolls for whom we have seen rooms other than their bedrooms. The alpha kids have a pretty similar situation: only Jane has had her home covered as extensively as the beta kids. Anyway, Kanaya takes the matriorb out of her lusus’s body and captchalogues it in her fetch modus which, like Aradia’s, seems operated by the forces of destiny rather than her own will. It’s stated that Kanaya will end up finding the key to open a card only when she is meant to use the item inside the card. She answers Vriska in a conversation we’ve already read.
I should note that at this point the trolls’ arc is filled with those quadrant terms. Every other sentence has the word “moirail” or “kismesis” or whatever else in it, and the meanings of those words are at this point kind of ambiguous. I think there really is strong evidence that Hussie tried and failed to use conversations between characters to explain troll romance—a concept which he mostly intended as something humorous because it’s so needlessly complicated, at least at the time. Maybe the quadrants section should have been posted before any allusions to the system’s existence, but that would be pretty awkward, an interlude to tell us all about some weird troll thing that didn’t exist until now. I don’t know.
Kanaya goes on to talk to Eridan, rounding out the trolls we’ve gotten dialogue from. Eridan gives us a pretty shoddy first impression, begging Kanaya to help him out with his bullshit like a buggy child. Said bullshit consists of wanting her to mediate between him and Vriska, and helping with his ridiculous plan to kill all the land dwellers. This exchange gives a few more troll romance terms, talking about the concept of auspisticism and referring to matespritship as the flushed quadrant. Then we learn that she found Rose’s Sburb walkthrough at one point, and would love to talk to the amazing girl who wrote the walkthrough, but believes that she and her teammates are probably dead. I think that must also be why she has a thing for her. It’s worth noting that while Rose’s walkthrough is seen by other characters as ridiculously wordy, Kanaya thinks it’s amazing. It’s like Kanaya is the only person who really clicks with Rose’s bizarre interests and incomprehensible statements and vice versa. I can’t really stay mad at the fact that they’re a thing.
Tavros enters the game, and we skip to a point when Vriska built up his hive … with stairs. She gives ridiculous “justifications” for doing so, while Tavros responds by stating the obvious about the stuff he did. I like Tavros’s reaction to Vriska’s claim that she built Tavros’s hive up with stairs because ramps are too boring:
AT: wHY DON’T YOU, iN LIKE,
AT: a NOT BORING WAY, bUILD,
AT: mORE INCLINED SURFACES, lIKE YOU DID OVER THERE,
AT: mAYBE YOU COULD COLOR THEM, wITH FUN COLORS,
AT: sO YOU WON’T THINK THEY’RE BORING AND GET ANGRY AT ME SOME MORE,
He’s clearly confused by Vriska’s excuses, and thus gives some suggestions for how she could achieve her purported desires without torturing him. Vriska’s biggest excuse is that she everything she does to Tavros that looks bad is to help him get stronger (even in recent updates she says that), though it’s not clear how much she means that, if at all. I think having a “special hate” for him like she said in an exchange with Karkat is a more likely explanation. I said I don’t hate Vriska as a character, but she really is kind of a douche—OK, maybe that was a Captain Obvious thing. Anyway, all these conversations between Tavros and Vriska give rise to nothing but a vast sea of sighs. It’s also worth noting that when Tavros had to enter the game really fast, Vriska built ramps so he could actually move around his home. This shows that when time-crunched to perform a task, Vriska will actually do what is needed, but otherwise she’ll just take the opportunity to do her bullshit to poor Tavros.
Then Kanaya bumps Vriska with a toilet, reminding her not to do her dumb shit to Tavros. Kanaya alludes to some kind of friendship with Tavros:
GA: Just Presenting A Floating Reminder That Tavros Will Need Plenty Of Inclined Surfaces For His Ascent
AG: That’s silly. I made so many ramps, you wouldn’t even 8elieve it.
AG: I specifically decided I wanted to 8uild something ugly and 8oring. It is now the land of ramps and yawns.
GA: Hes Reported Otherwise
Vriska does something to help Tavros out: she gets her rocket boots which she looted a while back, goes upstairs to see Kanaya cleaning up her broken 8 balls everywhere, and gives Tavros the code for the boots so he can alchemize a rocket chair so he can fly to his first gate.
Some time later, Tavros is shown to have amassed an army of underlings to help him solve puzzles of his land. He talks to Vriska, who thinks what Tavros is doing is lame and says he should start cheating. She gives him a map and shows him how to get to his seventh gate and fight his denizen. Just like what Terezi did with John, it isn’t actually his seventh gate, but his second gate, which leads him to crash into her room. Turns out Vriska is about to do something incredibly messed up: trying to seduce Tavros in a Pupa Pan roleplay scene. From that scene, we get a line which exemplifies Vriska’s attitude pretty well: “To be honest, you hardly know a damn thing about Pupa Pan. But you do not care.” Also this scene establishes that she has feelings for Tavros. It’s later suggested that the whole impetus behind Vriska treating Tavros like this may have been to mimic the romance between their respective ancestors, so this whole thing may well stem from trying to be like Mindfang. Jesus Christ.
Kanaya gets back on her computer to see Vriska using the fairy dress she made her to screw with Tavros some more. She realizes that’s why she made that dress and falls into tears. Her lusus sprite calms her down, telling her that it’s hard being a kid and growing up. It’s hard and nobody understands. That takes us to the section in which we learn all about troll romance.
The concept of quadrants is introduced, with how trolls have four types of romance analogized to card suits. I like the way it’s analogized to playing cards so that the quadrants are all pretty easy to remember. Then each quadrant is explained individually, with an example for each, and the gruesome mechanics of troll reproduction are also explained. After that comes explanation of quadrant vacillation and how that can lead to complicated situations and quadrant chain reactions between trolls. It’s stated that later Karkat would try and fail to explain troll romance to John; John actually appears in that page, which might remind readers how long it’s been since we’ve seen those human kids. Information about trolls believing in pairs made for each other transitions us to the introduction of the pair of underwater trolls stuck in the diamond quadrant, but that’ll be for next post.
For now I’ll say some stuff about the quadrants section. Like I said a few times, the trolls’ arc has a lot of parts where it takes time to exposit about a troll concept or sequence of events in the troll session. I’m not sure what I think of those sections. I guess they are done mostly because there isn’t a better way to tell about those long series of events without following them closely in long stretches of pages, which goes against the idea of the trolls’ side story being condensed so that it isn’t too long.
See you next time as we get to know our last two trolls.