Name: Eri Akita
School: Cochise High School
Hobbies and Interests: Reading, drawing, comic books, anime, tabletop gaming, forum posting, cosplay
Appearance: Eri is a waif of a girl, weighing in at 100lbs and standing at just below 5'3". She lacks curves or any real feminine features, which gives her a rather androgynous appearance when coupled with her pixie cut. Her Japanese descent shows through in her dark hair, wide cheekbones and bright brown eyes, though she's also inherited her mother's natural paleness. She has close-set eyebrows that give her a permanently serious expression, which is only alleviated when she smiles. A childhood phobia of needles kept her from getting any piercings or body modifications, and though she has since outgrown her fear, her disdain for such modifications has stayed with her.
Her style of dress is typically somewhat archaic. She enjoys picking outfits that hark back to specific time periods or styles, and her preferred attire consists of a dress shirt, black trousers, waistcoat and flat cap - a combination that gives her a distinct resemblance to a Victorian chimney sweep. She likes to look smart and tends towards clothes that would be considered business casual, avoiding particularly outlandish colours or anything too revealing. Occasionally her clothing earns her some odd looks or derisive comments, but for the most part she ignores this attention unless she has a retort queued up and ready to go. The only time she dresses down is on days when her fatigue keeps her from leaving the house or interacting with others. Such days are rarer than they once were, but when they happen she usually just wears tracksuit bottoms and pop-culture t-shirts.
Biography: Eri is a second-generation immigrant of Anglo-Japanese descent. Her father, Tatsumi Akita, was the third child of a poor farming family living in Fukashima Prefecture. Dissatisfied with his lot in life and acutely aware of the agricultural sector's decline, he devoted himself to his studies until he was able to earn an engineering scholarship at Tokyo university. Upon graduation, he accepted an overseas posting with Ford Motor Company, and moved to Kingman to work at the proving grounds in nearby Yucca. There, he met Andrea Howard, a British expat who had come to study in the United States.
Unlike Tatsumi, Andrea came from an affluent family in the South of England. She and her parents clashed constantly over matters ranging from political beliefs to her future aspirations. Determined to strike out on her own, she took to saving every penny she could, and with the help of a generous inheritance from a great aunt, she was able to emigrate to the USA as soon as she was able. Upon arrival, however, she found that the reality of studying aboard was far more complicated - and expensive - than what she'd imagined. The University of Phoenix was one of the few colleges within the range of her modest budget, and even then she had to hold down several part-time jobs in order to fund her studies, including one as an exotic dancer. When she at last earnt her degree and a job offer from the Kingman City Council, she was determined to work as hard as she could in order to secure a respectable career. She first met Tatsumi at a local nightclub, and what began as a one-night stand eventually led to them getting married three years later.
Being career-oriented individuals, Tatsumi and Andrea decided to wait until they had a stable financial future and a sizable house before having children. Their only child, Eri, was born a decade after they married. By that time, Andrea was a senior official on the City Council and could alter her work hours to accommodate Eri, whereas Tatsumi was still working nearly 70 hours a week and saw little of his newborn daughter. Eri therefore developed a much closer connection to her mother than to her distant and often absent father. Growing up in the States with only her parents as immediate family led her to think of herself as primarily American, despite her dual heritage.
As a young girl, Eri was precocious, learning to read at age five and outperforming most other children in kindergarten. Tatsumi taught her how to speak Japanese during the time that he was home, whilst Andrea would read her stories until she could recite them from memory. Growing up, Eri eschewed the TV, preferring to play outside in the garden and invent complex games of her own devising. Whenever her parents invited other children over for her to play with, she would try to get them to join in, only to grow frustrated with them when they failed to follow the arbitrary rules that she laid out. As a result, she spent much of her early childhood struggling to connect with others her age, and grew used to playing alone. Andrea's growing concern for her daughter prompted her to try and help Eri develop socially by leaving her with friends and other parents, but more often than not her past difficulties with socialisation led her to try and isolate herself. Eri also developed a passion for fancy dress at around this time, using costumes and props as part of her games even when she had to play every role herself.
It was only once she arrived at middle school that Eri began to develop real friendships. Though she remained isolated from others for much of fifth grade, towards the end of the year she was befriended by a girl in her homeroom called Olivia Alvarez. Olivia reached out to the lonely-looking Eri and encouraged her to try and develop common interests with others rather than live in a world of her own. Eager for social contact beyond her own family, Eri took the advice to heart. She made an effort to get engrossed in sports and cartoons, joining the girls' softball team and developing an obsession with Teen Titans to match Olivia's. Her old hobby of dressing up became a desire to cosplay her favourite characters. She also took to writing fanfiction and drawing fanart in an attempt to show off her talents.
By sixth grade, she was firmly integrated into Olivia's circle of friends. She learnt that Olivia had a soft spot for misfits and outcasts, and many of her friends were those who had difficulty fitting in anywhere else, much as Eri had. Held together by Olivia's magnetic personality and frenetic energy, as well as shared geeky hobbies, the disparate group began to establish a strong sense of identity based around their status as outsiders. They named their softball team the "Teeball Titans" and made practice a weekly ritual.
In lessons, Eri excelled, and she was soon enrolled in honor classes for Maths and Science. As a reward for her good performance, Tatsumi took two weeks off work so that the family could go on vacation in Japan for Eri's eleventh birthday. Having never seen a city larger than Phoenix before, Eri was overwhelmed by the noise and bustle of Tokyo, and returned to America with a newfound appreciation for the relative quiet of Kingman. She continued to enjoy good grades and the company of a close-knit friendship group.
Soon after she turned thirteen, however, things started to fall apart. It became gradually more difficult for her to get herself out of bed in the mornings, or to stay focused throughout an entire day of school. At first she tried to ignore the permanent feeling of exhaustion, but it grew worse with each passing day, until she collapsed during an after-school softball game and had to be taken to hospital. There, the doctors recommended that she stay home and rest for a couple of days until she felt well enough to attend school again. Those couple of days became a week, then a month. By then, Eri was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a debilitating condition that rendered her unable to complete the eighth grade. The disease left her bedridden, scarcely able to move unaided due to tiredness and joint pain. Her few hours of activity each day were spent on her laptop, idly watching videos or getting into half-hearted arguments on forums. In light of her situation and prior academic excellence, the school authorities allowed her to graduate anyway so that she could avoid the multitude that would arise from being held back a year. Andrea attended the gradutation ceremony in Eri's stead. Her friends visited her at home after her diagnosis, but a combination of Eri's lethargy and dwindling shared interests caused them to slowly drift away. Eventually, even Olivia stopped visiting.
Eri's condition led to a split in the Akita household. Tatsumi, who took great pride in having pulled himself out of poverty through hard work, grew deeply frustrated with watching his daughter's activity levels plummet whilst the doctors could do nothing but prescribe yet more bedrest. Andrea insisted that trying to force her to be active would only make things worse. Several vicious arguments ensued before the two agreed to disagree, and although the disputes never escalated to actual violence, their marriage was permanently strained as a result. Afterwards, Tatsumi devoted himself to his new job as an engineering consultant at Kingman Airport to the point where the two parents saw little of each other. Though neither party ever threatened divorce, they took to leading largely separate lives, and the role of caring for Eri fell to Andrea.
To distract herself from her condition and the domestic disputes it caused, Eri took to immersing herself in worlds of fantasy. She started by reading the Lord of the Rings books from cover to cover, and branched out from there until she had accumulated a small library of novels by her bedside. At the same time, she became engrossed in movies, TV shows, video games, anime, superhero comics, and any other forms of escapism she could enjoy whilst bedridden. When she eventually came to tire of worlds such as Middle-Earth and Westeros, she set about inventing her own. In the process, she became enamoured with the concept of tabletop roleplaying games, as they reminded her of the games she used to invent as a child. She filled notebooks with plans for novels that she never wrote and Dungeons and Dragons campaigns that she never ran. Having a strong creative drive helped her to stave off depression and her condition slowly began to improve, something that she attributed to her ability to distance herself from it when the need arose. By the time she turned fourteen, she was in a fit enough state to begin attending ninth grade at Cochise High School.
The severity of Eri's CFS has decreased significantly since she was first diagnosed, and her case is now listed as mild to moderate. On a good day, she can get from class to class without assistance and complete a whole day's lessons. Even so, she still suffers from severe tiredness in the afternoons, and can often be found napping in the library during free periods. Upon returning home from school, she typically needs to rest for several hours, if not the entire remainder of the day. She can barely cope with any physical activity more demanding than getting from point A to point B, and has difficulty concentrating for longer than fifteen minutes at a time. Additionally, she frequently comes down with headaches, attacks of nausea and acute muscle pains that can leave her incapacitated for hours at a time. From an emotional standpoint, Eri does her best to avoid getting down about her condition, and much of her sarcastic humour comes from making light of her illness in order to keep herself from sliding back into depression and self-pity. She makes an effort to treat it as just another inconvenience she needs to overcome. When her symptoms flare up, however, she finds it difficult not to feel bitter about what the disease has cost her. Dealing with her illness has taught her to try and keep her cool when faced with situations beyond her control, especially since getting frustrated only serves to wear her out even more quickly.
Throughout her three years at Cochise, Eri has been a distinctly average student. She takes Film Lit as her only elective, and Chemistry as her mandatory science. Though she is reasonably bright, she struggles academically due to her fatigue adversely affecting her concentration and disrupting her attendance. Consequently, her grades rarely rise above Cs. On hard days, she sometimes skips lessons in order to rest, hurting her performance further. Some of her teachers are more understanding than others, and as a result she tends to perform better in their subjects. She does best in Maths and Chemistry, but has difficulty keeping up in History and English. For obvious reasons, she's exempt from PE lessons. Despite all her limitations, Eri strives to do her best in every subject. One of her main pet peeves is seeing intelligent students perform poorly academically due to a lack of revision or commitment, since she has to work for every B or C she gets. Whilst she's open about her illness and often tries to derive humour from it when in company, she dislikes people feeling sorry for her because of it - as far as she's concerned, pity leads people to define her by her illness alone. Wherever possible, she insists on participating in school trips, which often means that an extra staff member has to be close to hand with a wheelchair in case she is unable to cope with the exertion.
Since she has no contact with either side of her extended family due to their distance and strained relations with their offspring, Eri's family life is defined almost entirely by her parents. The constant support and understanding that Andrea provided during the troubled times in Eri's childhood have created a bond between the two that persists to this day, and Eri views her mother as someone she can turn to in times of crisis no matter what the situation. Her relationship with her father is more complicated. Tatsumi places a greater emphasis on academic rather than creative pursuits, a trait that leaves him disappointed in Eri's mediocre grades and her penchant for daydreaming. His frequent absences during her childhood have left a rift between him and his daughter which makes interactions between the two stiff, awkward and overly formal. Nevertheless, he still feels affection for his only child, and from time to time tries to express it through grand gestures such as the trip to Japan. Eri still resents him somewhat for his distance, as well as for his role the deterioration of her parents' marriage, but over time she has come to try and be conscious of the difference in their mindsets and his contributions towards the family.
The future is a subject that Eri tries to avoid, for the most part. She knows that her poor grades and the nature of her condition mean that she's unlikely to ever get into college or succeed in the world of work. Whilst she focuses on living in the present without letting her lack of prospects concern her, sometimes her laid-back attitude isn't enough to keep her from worrying about what's to come. Having almost never left Kingman, she's more willing to overlook its flaws than most, but she has no desire to spend the rest of her life in the town. She's considered trying to make a career out of her writing, but lacks the concentration required to complete a novel and struggles to wholly commit to one idea at a time. When asked about what she plans to do with her life, she feigns nonchalance and attempts to deflect the question. Ultimately, her dream is to one day life her life outside the shadow of her illness, however that may come about.
Eri leans to the left of the political and religious spectrum, something which stems from her close relationship with her mother. She's an agnostic who's very much in favour of personal freedoms and marriage equality, though she isn't vocal about her beliefs and doesn't believe that they define her. Usually she's content to let other people have their opinions whilst she has hers. On occasion she'll engage in debate with people who support opposing stances, but does so more for the sake of argument rather than any real desire to win hearts and minds. Only genuine hatred and ignorance - or what she perceives as such - is enough to get her fired up.
Said attitude problems aside, Eri is fairly laid-back and relaxed in terms of personality. She sees no point in getting annoyed things she's powerless to change, tending to accept whatever life throws at her with a shrug and a wry remark. For her, humour is a way of expressing her frustrations with levity rather than letting them bubble up inside. Her sense of humour tends towards the sarcastic, to the point where it can be difficult to tell when she's actually being serious. Though there's rarely any spite behind her sarcasm, she often fails to realise when she goes too far with her remarks, and isn't always quick to apologise when she does. People who get on her nerves tend to find themselves on the receiving end of her more bitter snark attacks. To those that don't know her well, Eri's concentration issues can make her seem distant and spacey, when in fact she's quite grounded and simply has difficulty putting her thoughts in order sometimes. Her active imagination doesn't help matters. This has led to her being viewed as something of an outsider, but she values the people she has been able to form friendships with highly. Her decidedly geeky tastes and interests typically lead her to befriend kids that share them, alongside other members of counter-culture circles, though anybody who she spends enough time with is likely to become her friend through familiarity alone.
Advantages: Eri is usually a very calm individual. It takes a lot to make her angry, and even then she's unlikely to let that cloud her judgement. Her small frame and lack of any physical prowess could also work to her advantage, as nobody is likely to view her as a threat.
Disadvantages: Unfortunately for her, those same traits also mean that she'll be the first to go down in a fight. Her chronic fatigue makes prolonged periods of strenuous physical activity impossible, and she's often prone to headaches or bouts of nausea. Having to rest for hours at a time could potentially lead to her becoming stranded in danger zones. She's not a natural people person, and as such may have difficulty forming alliances or avoiding conflict - something that could prove deadly for someone with as few survival skills as her. Whilst she does have friends she might be able to rely on, they would have to be willing to risk their own lives to help out someone who is effectively dead weight.
Heya, MuseMan! I think that Eri is a pretty solid start, but she is DENEID pending a bit of adjustment.
It's pretty common for girls to get their ears pierced as kids. Did Eri's aversion to body modifications start early enough to prevent that?
Her style of dress is also quite unusual, especially for the area. Does she ever catch any flak for it? How does she feel about that? Why does she have days where she doesn't plan to interact with anybody? Are these days common?
The University of Phoenix has a decidedly mixed reputation, and a large chunk of its classes don't actually meet in-person. Moreover, it's not actually an accredited law school--you may be thinking of the Phoenix School of Law, which was but was only founded in 2005. Either way, I'd like to know more about Eri's mother's situation. It's not too easy to support oneself without any parental assistance, especially in a foreign country where there are restrictions surrounding work.
On a related note, Kingman is actually a pretty notoriously poor area for legal practices, due to its size and local economy. I'd like to hear more about the situation, or maybe to see Eri's mother moved into a job a little more in keeping for a legal professional in Kingman--something to do with the city government, perhaps?
Did Eri's inability to play well with other children concern her parents? Did they take any action based on it? It seems especially odd to me for her to be so isolated given her father's busy schedule--didn't her mother ever leave her with friends?
Why was Eri's father unable to understand her syndrome? It's something with a pretty large amount of research behind it, so it seems very odd for him to assume it possible for it to be purely mental. What sort of violent disagreements are we talking? There's a huge difference between heated arguments and literal violence, and while the former would take less extra work, I'd still like to see it delineated a bit more clearly.
If Eri missed a whole year of school, wouldn't she be a year older?
The biggest issue with Eri's CFS, however, is the way it's likely to intersect with her potential to participate in SOTF at all. If she's so debilitated by it as to sometimes have to go nap during school hours, it leaves me wondering why she'd go on a major school field trip in the first place--if she had an attack while out and about, it feels like there'd be a lot of potential for her to be miserable and for the entire trip to be disrupted. How has she worked around school trips in the past? Also, how does she feel about her illness? How does it influence her beyond the physical level?
What makes Eri assume others are being lazy? Is she open about her illness? If so, how does she feel about it? If not, does she not think others may also have extenuating circumstances?
Why is Eri so sarcastic? Has she ever run into trouble over this?
What sort of people are Eri's friends?
I'd also like to see a lot more of Eri's life as does not relate to her illness. Right now, it's been thoroughly detailed, which is really good, but it's so prominent as to drown out a lot of the rest of her. What's Eri's relationship with her parents like now? Does she have any contact with either side of her extended family? What does she want to do with her life? What are her religious and political beliefs? What does she think about Kingman as a whole, beyond having a greater appreciation for it after her visit to Japan?
I'd like to know more about Eri's calm nature in her biography. It seems somewhat at odds with her judging others for not trying and with her responding with frequent sarcasm.
I'm a bit confused about Eri as introvert by nature--her bio implies that she was actually very fond of the company of others and sought it out throughout much of her early life. She also sounds like she has a pretty solid, if small, core group of friends. Are they people she might be able to rely on in-game?
Post when you've got Eri touched up, and I'll give her another look. Her profile's a really good first draft, and I think she'll be ready to go soon.