A girl without her parents, taken in by a villainous group in order to serve their own ends. The girl has mysterious powers which enable her to survive, but also allow her new adoptive family to exploit her for their own ends…
I’m talking about Anisa Lagrange in the series “The Precious Sister of the Villainous Grand Duke,” Obviously.
The trope of a special child taken from their family and raised by another without their knowledge is an old one, with countless permutations. But usually, it’s a plot mechanism that allows for a few different plot points to play out that audience wishes to see. Such as the reunification of the child with the family they were stolen from, or the confrontation between them and their original family discovering there was a reason they were taken from them they didn’t know.
In “The Precious Sister of the Villainous Grand Duke”, a webcomic by Ikkamnu and Éclair, illustrated by Lunaheng, this child is Anisa. Stolen from her mother, Anisa was part of the Euclid family, and was born with a special magic power that allows her to see people’s auras and cleanse them, giving them a new chance at life. As part of the LaGrange family, this proves to be pretty darn valuable as the family pits the children to kill each other in order to determine who is going to be the heir, and to do so leaves items laced with demonic energy around their estate to poison their minds and souls.
Because Anisa can cleanse this, she’s able to survive without just doing murder, and changes the course of the story--
DIVISION PROTOCOLS ACTIVATE
INTERUPT ESSAY - DIVISION PROTOCOLS
Chaos: Well, personally I was enjoying that.
Order: This isn't a game, we already retold this story with the Irish Policeman. I liked that one.
Chaos: Of course you did, your name is literally Order.
Order: Well don't rub it in. Anyway, what exactly is the point here? I'm sure it's all a symbol for something.
Chaos: Does it? Can't I just spill out the toybox and let you step on the legos?
Order: Lego is plural, you don't add the s.
Chaos: Literally no one with a social life does that. Anyway, I say we let it proceed.
Order: It’s a pretty weird comparison though, I mean, a Korean comic? Manga? Manhua? Doesn't really seem to have a lot to do with this.
Chaos: It has everything to do with this.
Anisa makes a friend in Dietrich, her adoptive brother who helps protect her even as he himself fights and engages in the cruel machinations required to become the family heir to the LaGranges. He even begins to make pacts with demons, such as the demon Baal, who becomes quite the comic figure despite/protocol error
/error/the torn mask on his face. But the access to such corrupted forces allows Dietrich to go to the main family estate, and wipe them out, converting them into demons themselves. This fulfills the prophecy from the previous romance manga series about a hybrid that would be of two races (Lagrange/Demon) and destroy the family. It can get a little confusing though, because by all accounts that prophecy was already resolved, and now we have resolved it twice. But regardless, Dietrich is now the only Lagrange left, leaving Anisa to destroy the family to save them both, but this role is taken from her at the last minute by a character she's barely known, the old man from the Lagrange family cellar who had fled there after the death of his own family.
/error attempting correction/
/error, attempted to reverse planet named time, now reversing concept of time/
The Doctor gets the idea to make money on Gallifrey by entering the lottery, and buying as many tickets as she can. This ends up being facilitated by the older Timelord the Rani, as she--
Chaos: Sorry, this is all falling apart.
Order: Its a pretty simple concept isn't it, the essay is just comparing the two stories and getting them mixed up. Its a clever format decision!
Chaos: But is it? Does the format change actually add anything to the story here, or the analysis? It feels like we're cutting back and forth so much that we're killing the whole flow of the story.
Order: Why are you the one complaining here, you're Chaos?
Chaos: That's just my name. My mom named me that.
Order: Let's just reset the servers, maybe that will stop things from being in such flux.
Before the latest episode of "The Precious Doctor of the Villainous Grand Division" aired a British politician make the absolutely ludicrous statement in a speech that the character of Anisa becoming a woman was causing a massive crime spree in Britain. After all, if the heroine of a girl's romance manga can't be a man, then what sort of role models would men have left? This has been a big problem since the start of the series after all, with countless men online stomping their feet and screaming that they need a series starring a man. When pointed to the countless romance manga starring male characters, the criticism was deflected. It was never about having male representation after all, I mean, Dietrich is right there, as is her other brother Yurik, but about having a series starring a female character at all. Simply being a woman was the sin, which led to a new strange problem. The worst critics of the series were so vile in their directed attacks, that many felt hesitant to voice their more reasonable complaints for fear of aiding them.
Like the infection of the demonic energy into the Lagrange household, it spread, tearing things up in a flux till simply surviving that deluge became a problem.
And it never ends. That politician is only the latest in a long series of bad-faith complaints that all crash against the rocks with their paper-thin criticism and candy-floss strength analysis. But it does its damage all the same.
Even so, we now end up with a new problem: What if the story problems, totally disconnected from the issue of the sexist attacks on the series as a concept, begin to themselves pile up?
Part way through the series, it becomes apparent that Dietrich is in fact going to be the male lead of the series, that is, the romantic interest for Anisa to fall in love with. There's of course a big issue there: he's her brother. Sure, they're not related by blood, and it’s even clear that she's been stolen from her original family, but... he's still her brother. For many fans, they never quite recovered from this revelation, even though it can be quite common in the genre.
It’s still pretty damn gross.
Like, really? Her brother? Come on now.
Part way through the series, it becomes apparent that the series isn't going to live up to the reputation of being woke that it's gained simply by its casting. While the show does some amazing work in diversity, many fans get put off by a series of creative choices such as the episode "Kerblam!" seemingly having an anti-workers message, Anisa using the skin color of Dietrich's latest regeneration as a weapon to get him captured by literal Nazis, and erasing the memories of some female historical heroes while leaving men in the same series with their own. For many fans, they never quite recovered from this turn, even though it can be quite common in the genre.
It’s still pretty damn gross.
Like, really? Using his skin color against him? Come on now.
Order: But is that really a fair criticism? I mean, it really is just a time travel convention. Reveal the person from the future to be a liar and get them in trouble!
Chaos: Yeah, but the issue is they used his race, and used literal Nazis as a weapon against him. That’s messed up.
Order: Hold up, which story are we talking about?
Chaos: I mean, the incest is bad too.
But how does this all relate to Anisa Who: Dark Aura? Well, how do you deal with a follow up to something kind of gross, that starts getting better, but drops the ball in a different way? After all, this full series has been trying to tell one story, and when it works, its worked very very well. The Sontarans and Weeping Angels were good fun, and while it got mixed public reception I actually quite liked “Once, Upon Euclid” which I thought did a great job of balancing its new story elements even if some of them worked better than others.
But here in part 5, the threads start to fray. Because we’re starting to pay off things that the series has been setting up for a long time. But how it pays them off is going to determine quite a lot of how enjoyable the era as a whole is. And… while I’ve been fairly positive of the series, even despite my reservations about the plot involving the LaGrange family’s machinations. But here we are.
Anisa finally confronts her mother, the woman who picked her up and brought her into the LaGrange home. And how does that go? Camilla LaGrange isn’t a good woman, something we could surmise for her work for a secret time traveling evil organization, but we’ve barely met her before. The confrontation between mother and daughter feels like it should be climax of this whole story: after all, Anisa is the Timeless Child. She’s the one where the magic power to regenerate the auras back to purity came from, as we learn in later dialogue:
Anisa: The Demons created the dark aura because you're scared of me? Of the Euclid bloodline?
Baal: Not scared. Wary, perhaps.
Anisa: How much power do you imagine I have?
Baal: You inspire. Make people question and rise up. You give them hope. Just look at Yurik and Veronica. That can be problematic.
Anisa: Who even are you?
But the confrontation with her mother is filled with so much explanation of the setting’s lore, it kills the shock of it all, and the rapid cut back and forth between the different divided characters doesn’t help either.
Order: Hold up, I think we’re straying from Anisa’s real story here.
Chaos: Look, it was never going to be a one-for-one comparison.
Order: But Anisa was abandoned by Donna Euclid, right?
Chaos: How do we know the Doctor wasn’t abandoned?
Order: We don’t! But she could have also been stolen. That’s the issue here, we get explanations of the lore, but we’re missing the explanations of the character dynamics. We know that the Doctor feels wronged, but we get far more dialogue about the whole multiverse-thing going on.
Chaos: That gives the moment focus though! And it underscores her own lack of knowledge.
Order: But shouldn’t Anisa meeting her long lost mother be more emotional? Shouldn’t this be the emotional climax? Why is this episode 5?
Chaos: We’re going to get answers next episode probably, we saw that Azure has the pocketwatch.
Order: It still feels like a missed opportunity for the Doc… Anis… which story are we talking about?
Which leads to the episode’s strangest choice: to kill off Anisa’s mother just after we’ve met her, completely vaporized by the demon Asmodeus. This acts as a cliffhanger, and it feels like it should be shocking, but we haven’t had the build up to it we needed for that. Instead, it pushes the plot forward, and the emotions of the characters backward. We’ll deal with Asmodeus and Baal next time, but we’re simply left with the unfulfilled potential of this encounter.
So, what is important in a story? Is it the plot? Is it a clever structure? Or is it the characters? Their emotions? The ties that bind them and separate them? I’ve never been a fan of this plotline, but it wasn’t because of the lore itself. It was because time and time again, it feels like the lore has come before the character’s actions.
Twice now, we’ve had a character lecture Anisa on her own history, and she just stands there and listens. Talks back a little, but largely has no agency in these scenes that are so important to her story. Giving us the knowledge of her life seems more important than making us care about it, and there’s a sadness to that, because when you lay out the events on paper the dramatic potential is obvious: a lady confronting her abusive and manipulative mother who stole a whole potential life from her. It’s a rich tapestry, just waiting to be mined. But it’s pulled away for a cliffhanger.
And maybe the cliffhanger is a fake out, and we’ll get more next week. Maybe we’ll get that resolution in the flashbacks from the magic watch. Maybe. But we can only judge it week by week for now, and for now, there’s an empty hole there waiting to be filled.
Of course, the Master was confronting Division, and only pretending to hate her so she wouldn’t try to interfere, but the Doctor getting between them and confronting her trauma through the visions given to her to save both of them allowed them to subvert fate and move forward. Where will they go from here, now that they’ve saved Lagrange—I mean Galifrey? Or Time?
So much of Anisa’s story involves memories of things she doesn’t know—versions of herself from past lives that she has to work through the memories of. Both herself, a girl from Korea, and the original Anisa who dies in the story. Not to mention the Fugitive Anisa version of the character who was hunted by the Judoon. Or the one who was a cop in Ireland.
So the real question we have now, I think, is which is going to be more important in the finale: the contents of the memories, or the fact in themselves that they were lost?
It’s a series of comparisons, an infinite set of alternate lives that show what matters. Whether its in the LaGrange manor, or the halls of the planet Time, the song remains the same in a dress or a coat.
What will her memories mean to her?
Order: Alright, enough of that.
Chaos: But it was fun.
Order: I think the format itself is starting to get in the way of the piece.
Chaos: We already covered that.
Order: I mean—never mind. Let’s just talk about Yaz and go home.
But what about the side characters?
Yaz, Dan, and Eutacius get their own big side story here, and its absolute rollicking fun. We get to see the group in period get up, get a moment to tantalize Yaz/Anisa shippers, and even get a fun moment with Dan’s space dog that’s pretty damn funny. Their whole journey is a real highlight of the episode, and shows how much fun this era of the series can be. A little more confusing is a side-plot about the Grand Serpent going to Earth and helping start UNIT, run UNIT, and then disband UNIT so he can invite the Sontarans to invade it. Maybe we’ll get more explanation next week, but there’s a certain amount of “A+?=C” to the plan. Why help found UNIT only to later get rid of it, and spend decades on that endeavor? The segments themselves are fun, and the Grand Serpent is a pretty successful menacing villain. Craig Parkinson was excellent casting.
Bel and Vinder are also there, as is Dan’s not-quite-girlfriend, and they mainly remind us of their presence for the finale.
The tunnels finally get tied back in, and it’ll be exciting to see how that all plays in together.
Its strange though, Flux has been made of so many strands. Next week, we will see how they all come together, and never before in Doctor Who has it felt so much like the way the strands come together will change how we reflect on everything before it. Maybe every grumpy complaint will be wiped away, maybe it will be a collapsing disaster. What if? We wait.
If nothing else, the serialization is fun. The wait to see what we think. Complaining, rejoicing. It can feel like its all a menace sometimes, like disagreements about the quality of a story are very important things. But it all exists in our heads.
And the version of it in our heads is the one that matters. Those precious memories, whether good or bad, form us and shape us. And I’ll certainly remember this series. And hopefully, unlike the Doctor and Anisa, your past will remain with you.
And if it doesn’t, I hope you find the story of you somewhere and can find something that matters to you in it.
After all, Tapas has regular updates of newly translated chapters.
/end Division Simulation
/begin memory deletion protocol
/see you next week
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Images are taken and used in a transformative and moderate mannter from "The Precious Sister of the Villainous Grand Duke" also known as "Villain Duke's Precious One"
Authors: Ikkamnu / Eclair
You can read the story here (its good!):
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.