Yes, it’s a bit of an oddity. It’s also part of why my release schedule is being delayed once more (other reason being that I was on vacation visiting family for much of June so my drafts fell behind).
If you’re active in the Daybreak discord, you might have seen some of my frustrations since posting the story to RoyalRoad. My stress levels have certainly shot up since May when I joined RR, as I’ve received a ton of angry if not hateful comments. The more egregious of this include the old accusation that Kaede is a “born slave with stockholm syndrome”, that Daybreak was a “slave fantasy” and a “bad BDSM story”.
So since June 1st, I’ve gone back to the start of Daybreak and started another major edit. The main goal was to make Kaede’s motivations more obvious, especially to these modern power-fantasy / wish-fulfillment isekai readers, that trying to land with two feet on another world isn’t mere cakewalk. This ‘rewrite’ has since been finished.
I think most of the older Daybreak readers already understood most of this. I’ll explain my intentions with some of the more notable changes I added down before. But first of all…
Note on Kaede’s Character
A hurdle I’ve always struggled with is readers’ expectations of Kaede. Simply put, the old “genderbender” headache is striking me yet again. Daybreak certainly isn’t written the way many genderbenders are. Nor is Kaede a typical boy, as even in flashbacks he complaints about the many unfair expectations leveled on him just because he was born male on Earth. However, to say that Kaede has gender dysphoria is also wrong. This leaves some readers who insist on putting Kaede into a trope, then complain when she doesn’t seem to fit in either.
To pull a new excerpt from changes in v1ch2, when Kaede first discovers her new body:
Is the universe playing a cruel joke on me or something? Kaede couldn’t help wonder. Is it because I complained too many times about all the unfair expectations placed on me just because I was born male?
Sure, Kaede had always been called a ‘sensitive boy’. He never really fit in with what society saw as ‘masculine culture’. However this was definitely NOT what he had asked for!
Some of the older readers here know how much I love to discuss psychology, or how much research I put into writing real-life psychological traits into the characters of Daybreak. Kaede is no exception to this.
Kaede is written as an individual with SPS (Sensory Processing Sensitivity), a term you’re unlikely to run across from just reading fiction as it’s a fairly new field of research. Coined by its pioneer, psychologist Elaine Aron, in the 1990s, SPS is a trait where someone have particularly strong sensory inputs compared to average people. Individuals with SPS (also known as HSP – Highly Sensitive Persons) typically exhibit high sensitivity, conscientiousness, and empathy, traits largely identified around the world as ‘feminine’. As a result, men with SPS often find themselves having difficulty matching society’s expectations towards them, as these traits are the polar opposite of stereotypical ‘male culture’. Kaede fits into neither gender neatly, and it’s the main topic of exploration for Daybreak’s genderbender tag.
Interestingly, the downsides of SPS also mark some of Kaede’s more notable character flaws, such as the fact she doesn’t deal well with surprises, how she’s prone to stressing out, or how she’s often indecisive and likes to push off hard decisions (i.e. procrastinate on them). It is easily the personality trait that most heavily influences Kaede’s personality, including her need to “emotionally self-regulate” and her dislike of crowded, noisy places.
Largely due to this trait of hers, Kaede has the personality of a Mediator (INFP), one of least common of the Myers-Briggs Personality Types, which is often so misunderstood that even the most highly regarded test site notes:
But because this personality type makes up such a small portion of the population, Mediators may sometimes feel lonely or invisible, adrift in a world that doesn’t seem to appreciate the traits that make them unique.
I guess even in writing Kaede, I feel some of this stress leaking through, as too many readers simply comments that she’s a “poor protagonist” because she’s not the action-y type who leaps face-first into fires without thinking things through.
Why does our modern society have such a preference again? I’m not sure I’ll ever fully understand.
Major Rewrite Changes
In early v1ch3, when Kaede goes to the roof after her first night in the new world, I wanted to highlight early just why Kaede practices archery. Because too many people comes away with the idea that it’s just a “handy skill in a medieval world”. As some later chapter would note, ‘archery meditation’ is an important ritual for Kaede’s day-to-day life, and I wanted to show from the start that — yes, Kaede is written to be someone with high emotional intelligence and self-management skills.
Ever since she learned it years ago, Kaede had relied on meditation to help regulate her thoughts, her ‘mental hygiene’ as many called it. Yet now, it wasn’t working. She couldn’t enter the mindset, couldn’t detach herself from her negative emotions. She tried to actively focus on her movements or using the ‘box breathing’ technique. However that only served to remind her that this body wasn’t the same as before. None of the usual methods were working, as her maelstrom of concern and anxiety would not abate and would not let go.
Later in the same chapter, after beating up Pascal, I really wanted to stress just how unusual that was for Kaede. In fact, even some old Daybreak readers often comment this seemed a perfectly reasonable course of action. Reasonable in term of Kaede’s emotional state, I agree. However, one of the things I often dislike about pop culture media is it fails to highlight just how detrimental/disastrous such “cathartic outbursts” really are.
Kaede had always considered herself a levelheaded person, who used communication to solve problems rather than forceful action. After all, even professional crisis negotiators, who dealt with hostage-taking terrorists –the least reasonable people possible– still found that showing empathy and sincerity results in a five times higher rate of success as the application of brute force. Diplomacy was almost always the best option, while violence was the last resort of the incompetent.
Yet, what she had just done was the exact opposite of ‘being diplomatic’.
Kaede had no money, no property, not even a trade that could be practiced in this completely foreign world. With the arrival of winter just around the corner…
I’ll freeze or starve to death as a homeless girl!
Plus, even if Kaede could find shelter, what then? She was a girl now, and one of weak build at that. Even on modern Earth there were plenty of people who preyed on girls like her. If she didn’t be careful, she’d find herself being trafficked and sold off to a brothel!
Simiarly, in v1ch5, after Kaede met the headmaster and realized that she didn’t even have basic rights of ordinary citizens. This is a topic many older ‘travel to another world’ stories often tackle, that has been entirely disregarded in modern isekai:
In hindsight, she should have anticipated the news. Even on modern Earth, many illegal immigrants were denied their basic rights due to the fact they fell outside the legal system. Here in Hyperion, Kaede had no history, no identification, not even a hometown where she’d be recognized. It would not be an exaggeration to say that she could be ‘vanished’ and nobody would even miss her!
— Nobody except Pascal. The same man who had caused all of her misery was also the only person who stood up for her.
How am I supposed to even think about this!? Kaede found herself struggling to untangle it all.
I really hope some of these entries help future readers reflect upon just what it means to be “sent to another world”, something I feel like most modern isekais completely gloss over in favor of wish-fulfillment.
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Thank you \(•ᴗ•)/
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