I’ve gone quite into detail on what kind in injury Luane, my Lugia lady, suffered,
how it affected her and how it would become worse and worse over time (something I only wrote in stories. Some of which I didn’t publish yet – mostly due to lack of public interest. But they do exist…and a little bit of artwork as well). But The main point remains: Why did I choose that kind of injury and build a character around it? The answer is more complex than you might expect.
First of all some basic explanation: In my opinion, every character needs to be balanced. Balance means: Every superior power requires some kind of flaw, every strength and extreme advantage has to come with a price. Superman has his Kryptonite, Batman his Code of Honor and dead parents, Tony Stark the feeling of guilt of what he was in the past, what he saw what might happen to earth. True strength of a character isn’t based upon their strength, but their weakness. By taking away said weakness, you nullify the strength of a character in a way. And, if you build a character without real flaws, you risk to create a Mary-Sue-character (look at Rey from Star Wars for example), which causes the character to become highly disconnected from the audience and the world it’s in.
Back to the origin: Inspiration of Luane’s injury was an old anime I first saw in German television when I was very little involving a female volleyball player. Though the story may be nice, the anime has some typical problems: The main character encounters a problem, it overcomes the problem, solves the problem and ends up being the hero. Then, a new problem arises, which the character has to overcome to become a hero. Main problem with this. Most of those problems never lasted/had an effect for more than one or more episodes, were one-trick-ponies in a way.
In one of those episodes the „hero“ of the series is faced with a seemingly superior rival. Her team is almost defeated, as her arrival is delayed due to bad weather (problem – solution!). But when she arrives, she almost single handedly manages to turn the tides. She’s just too good and too strong for her rival to be faced in a fair matter – so said rival relies on a dirty trick to take her out again.
The trick itself is simple, the effect itself unremarkable enough so nobody else notices, but the sudden fall means our hero injures her right ankle due to this dirty trick.
The extend of the injury becomes obvious to her when she tries to „walk it off“ immediately after the fall – her right foot simply gives way immediately after she gets up. Still, she tries to reassure everyone in her team being „okay“, tries to continue playing and fighting, as they had already almost won the match. But matter only get worse from here:
She falls, limps, damages her foot further – until she and her team finally lose the match entirely, as the enemy team target her exclusively as she denies to be swapped out for someone else. In the end – SHE is the hero of the team. Why should she retire, eh?
The entire episode focuses on that injury and the consequences it holds. A „problem“ she can’t solve, a „problem“ that finally, despite all her strength, proves: She’s not ready, yet and all your strength and power can still put you back into your place, no matter how strong you have become.
This and many other occasions of „problems“ like that could have been a good foundation to create character depth, as injuries like that tend to „leave a mark“ in a character. Instead, the following episode only briefly reflects on what happens, she says „I’m an athlete. I’ll be fine in no time“ and, of course, just a minute later, she’s fully healed, the injury is never mentioned again. Because…that’s how that kind of injuries you don’t treat properly, don’t rest for a sufficient amount of time, really work, right?
Well…no, they don’t. Reality tells a different story. Go ahead and ask ANY athlete with that kind of injury about „recovery time“ or „recurring injuries“, which sometimes result in career-endings.
To many anime, stories, movies and the latter weaknesses are just mere plot devices that come and go. They’re MacGuffins, they’re Make-Up you put on when you need to adapt to a certain situation and discard when the situation disappears. But they all lack one important thing – a thing I hold dear so much:
Though Luane is based in a small universe/world that’s taken from an anime, I’ve altered said universe to be a liiitle bit more realistic. In other words: No shortcut to undo „stupid mistakes“ or magically heal injuries. Scars don’t disappear entirely, they fade away over time, tell stories you can look back at and each stage of injury defines the timeframe of the character, the worsening of untreated injuries shows progression of time. That way, every small event is relevant, can be seen in the character and its progression throughout its own development – something that never stops.
The extend of her ankle injury and its progress through time is, ina way, nothing else but a „ticking clock“, a plot device originally used in movies to both transport the progress of time and the rising tension to the definitive end.
|first 3rd degree sprain||seventh 3rd degree sprain||twentyseventh 3rd degree sprain||fiftythird 3rd degree sprain|
In her case, this ticking clock device is well-hidden, yet still in plain sight, as the injury progresses over time, becoming worse and worse with every passing year she denies the extend of her injury, until she can’t ignore the injury anymore, until it’s too late to fix the damages. It’s the timeframe she has for her character, her attitude, the many flaws of her personality to shift in a sufficient manner so she would finally admit the extend of her injury, accept help and therefore save her life. Because yes, the extend of the injury will, in the end, become life-threatening.
„That’s absurd and unrealistic!“ you might say, but no, there’re many examples of similar events happening with real people out there. Take Serena Williams for example – a tennis athlete with EXTENSIVE problems with her ankles who suffered countless injuries to them over the past 16 years but STILL continues to play tennis, despite wearing MULTIPLE layers of bandages, tape wraps and specialised footwear to protect those – and despite receiving professional treatment and medication money can buy. You may also look at countless other athletes out there, be it in football, volleyball or any other kind of sport – most of those only manage a comeback due to VERY expensive treatment, regeneration time and, even after that, suffer regular re-injuries of the previously injured limb.
Luane has none of that treatment, denies any of it due to issues with her personality. Therefore she doesn’t overcome the injury of hers in a way another athlete would (because yes, she IS an athlete herself. She’s one of the fastest and most badass flyers out there and will, despite her injury, beat anyone in the air). It becomes worse and worse – until she reaches her breaking point.
The main timeframe of her story arch – beginning from the initial injury she suffered as a child, until the end, when the damage on her ankle is so severe she’ll not just only be unable to use her paw in ANY kind anymore, but necrosis in the joint leading to a risk of her losing her whole leg or even her life – is set, the clock is ticking. Each and every one of you have it in front of you, every time she injures her paw, suffers from the already occured damage or has to deal with problems arising due to it is another ticking on a clock, takes one closer to the already determined, fixed end. It’s up to the audience to see if she’ll survive her own arrogance and ignorance and is able to recover from the unrecoverable…and what the next story arch might hold.
Some short FAQ on her ankle injury
|What caused this whole ankle instability?||Luane crash-landed during a fight with a cousin her her, landed badly on ler left paw, resulting in an ankle injury. In addition to her first-ever sprain (a 2nd degree one), she suffered a growth-plate fracture in the left ankle which was left untreated. This lead in warping of the growth plate and would ultimately result in the joint growing a little bit wrong, the tendons not attaching properly, weakening the joint.|
|Isn’t the extend of the injury a bit too extreme for just a sprain?||It is, yes. That’s because it’s not „just“ a sprain:|
During the cause of her backstory, she suffered an additional sprain, but kept going and had another, very severe accident, causing extensive damage to her ankle joint in the process. This accident and the fact her ankle was already sprained diverted the damage to the originally warped growth plate in her talus bone, which fractured in the process.
A talus facture, also known as talar fracture, also known as „snowboarder’s ankle“, is a common injury and easily missed by doctors, as its symptoms are similar to those of a very bad sprain. Untreated, it leads to severe instability and degenerative damage of the talon bone. That‘ what she’s really suffering from.
|Why does she injure her ankle so often?||She doesn’t. It’s this severe injury she suffered that doesn’t heal, causing extensive instability, which leads to recurring sprains, pain or her paw just giving out on her on random occasions. They’re not injuries – they’re symptoms of the true, ongoing injury she doesn’t recover from.|
|How often does she „roll“ her ankle?||Depends on the moment in time. By the age of 30, which is about 9 years after the incident in the storm and her crashing on the island, she would have suffered around 27 3rd degree sprains, around 190 minor sprains and a couple of hundred incidents in which she hurt her ankle otherwise.|
|Aren’t these numbers too high?||For someone healthy or someone trying to recover? Sure they are! But keep in mind her ankle’s highly unstable and she refuses to take any rest she doesn’t HAVE to take. 27 3rd degree sprains in 9 years would be one every 4 months, 190 minor one’s around 21 per, therefore less than one per week. Taking in regard she uses her paw without going easy, one injury every two to three weeks is not that much in the first place. Especially if you consider the amout of force when she uses it.|
|What’s the most common way she injures herself?||Take-Offs and Landings. Both are situations she can’t do using just one leg. And both situations put a LOT of extra stress on her joints (about 3-4 times of her body weight during takeoff, roughly twice her bodyweight during landing). It’s also a reason why she intentionally hungers herself down to a degree her ribs become slightly visible: To lower the weight and therefore the stress she puts on her leg.|
|Doesn’t TimeShift notice her injury?||He does. And he’s aware of the pain she’s going through. But he knows very well she won’t listen to him when he tells her to go easy, to rest or see someone who might help her. She’s very stubborn in that regard and the more he would push her, the more she would defend. That’s why he calmly and carefully offers support whenever she needs it and hopes she finally realises she’s in need of REAL help.|
|Are the two a couple?||Not really – well, not yet.|
Luane has no interest in finding a „mate“ or someone by her side. She’s a loner and wants to be free. However, her drive to remain free is what really puts shackles on her wrists. It’s part of her character arc to understand that – and she’ll slowly start to change. But VERY slowly.
TimeShift however doesn’t feel any drive to get close to females. Luane is like a sister, the sibling he never had. That’s why he cares for her, why he accepts her flaws. But she’s also someone he does everything to prove himself for being more than just a weapon. He tries to prove himself he can care for someone and save someone from certain doom.
|Will Luane’s ankle ever heal?||There were chances for her ankle to heal naturally. However, since she damaged her ankle so often and so severely, the extend has grown to a point she’s unable to recover from it anymore. She’ll require surgery to repair the damage to her talus bone, replacements for her worn-out tendons. But even with those she’ll never regain full stability on her ankle. It will remain unstable until she dies.|
|Why doesn’t she just wear a brace all the time to solve the problems?||A brace may be nice for a human, but Lugia are digitigrade walking creatures. The damage to her ankle means she doesn’t just roll her paw in one direction, the instability means it rolls in two or more directions at the same time when it gives way. The only way to prevent such movement would be a total immobilization of the whole joint. Plus she’s much bigger than a human, the joint and leg bigger as well. Therefore a brace sufficiently stable and big enough would be very expensive, would have to very sturdy and therefore quite heavy. Wearing such a device would prevent her from flying properly, as the weight would shift her center of mass quite far to the back and left side. Plus she would be incapable of folding her paw to her body during flight, unable to walk properly (maybe even not at all…due to the lack of flexibility) and such a sturdy device would hinder her in so many ways she just wouldn’t accept it.|
That’s why she’s wearing a bandage, which – if properly wrapped – does similar stuff. But due to the factors I mentioned above, she either removes the bandage when she plans to join a competition, travels for longer distances or tries to hide her injury, as it limits her movement quite a lot. She even removes and rewraps the bandage regularly to allow more movement of her ankle.
Those are the situations when her injuries happen: When she’s wearing limited or no protection. Plus the bandage slowly decays and ages as well, making is less robust over time. She suffered at least two sprains from her bandage tearing during a landing due to material fatigue.