Length: 1,000 words approximately
Notes: Knowledge of Pretty much all of Road Not Taken AU is necessary to understand this, but specifically Bypass.
A long time ago (actually about 3 years ago), I started what I called “the more realistic version of what if Taguchi was the front-man of KAT-TUN.” To Walk the Higher Road was finished pretty quickly, and then I got interested in what it might be like to explore Ueda’s motivations and thoughts, and then after Waiting at the Crossroads, I absent-mindedly told Rei that she should write Kame’s part and the next thing I knew I was writing Bypass. Two or so years later, I’ve finally finished it. It’s only 2 years late, Rei. Happy Birthday.
Formalities aside, this is everybody’s favorite segment, the virdant post-writing commentary portion! A lot has changed since Waiting, and not all of it is good for my writing, but it’s mostly good. I haven’t had as much time for creative writing (this is something that might change), but I have had plenty of time to learn what we call “considerate text” at work. I’ve also done a lot of self-observation and so hopefully that reflects in the latter half of Bypass.
Let’s start with some background.
Since I started writing Bypass in around 2013 / 2014, KAT-TUN was in a very different state at that time (not that I was paying much attention). At that time, KAT-TUN still had five members, and while they weren’t doing great they also weren’t doing too terribly. At this point, I started Bypass with the intention of exploring what somebody who was on Kame’s side of this whole rigmarole would feel. I got quite far too before Koki left the group (got kicked out). You can actually sort of see this in the writing, because the first mention of KAT-TUN as a four-member group shows up when I realize this news.
I worked on Bypass on and off, usually around Rei’s birthday or Christmas because I had these hopes of finishing it in time for it to be an adequate gift. Finally, by sheer dumb luck, I got inspired to finish Bypass. When I opened it up and re-read it to figure out where I left off, I realized I only had to write part five because everything else was done. As a result—and this is actually really interesting and worth mentioning—pretty much every scene in part 5 is new writing, and more specifically it’s writing done after 2+ years as a professional editor.
(Yes, I edited the manuscript, but that doesn’t mean that the writing in part give doesn’t show growth).
It’s worth mentioning while Bypass was mostly written chronologically (as in I started in part one and didn’t skip between scenes), I had a rough idea of what the end game would be when I started. The end game I pictured is actually the second to last scene in the final draft, which is a Koki perspective of the first scene of To Walk the Higher Road.
It’s also worth noting that Bypass retells a lot of the same scenes of Higher Road and Crossroads. I actually had to actively pull back from simply retelling scenes from Koki’s perspective because it was pretty bad storytelling, and scenes that matter to Ueda or to Taguchi won’t matter as much to Koki. What resulted, I think, is a story that actually explores Koki’s motivations.
For Koki, Bypass is actually happier (in a way), than reality. Even though he never quite manages to show off his talents, he ends up leaving J&A of his own accord instead of being kicked out. What is fun is that I decided that Bypass would end with Koki leaving KAT-TUN about 1 day before I finished the damn story. And, while there was some editing to make the plot fit, the edits were relatively minimal, so maybe my subconscious already knew?? Who knows. I find it amusing that I had written part one ending with Koki ripping his “T” away from KAT-TUN when my endgame ended up being Koki stepping away from KAT-TUN.
So let’s get started. This time, with the improvements in technology, you can read a line-by-line annotated PDF that you can download here [x].
There are several plot threads that get resolved. The first is Koki’s solo career. Like Ueda’s solo career, Koki’s solo career is put on hold when Taguchi becomes the front-man. In this case, it’s drama roles that get taken away. The drama roles that would have gotten split between Nakamaru, Ueda, and Koki end up all going to Taguchi (and some of Kame’s go to Taguchi’s too, and vice versa). Koki struggles with his position as a background accessory to Taguchi and Kame. Depressed, he chooses to leave KAT-TUN and KAT-TUN continues as a four-member band.
Koki’s veneer as an untouchable pop idol is reflected through his nail polish. Throughout the entire fic, it chips and peels, and Koki struggles to maintain it. In the end, he chooses to leave off on painting his nails, and finally he strips it all away when he leaves KAT-TUN. How much of this was on purpose? Maybe 80%.
Taguchi’s knee is a reoccurring theme in this whole ‘verse. Here, through Koki’s “unbiased” perspective, we get to see his knee as a metaphor for Taguchi’s insecurity. When he isn’t confident of his position in KAT-TUN, he nurses his knee and struggles to protect it. When Taguchi succeeds in becoming KAT-TUN’s front-man (even usurping Kame, as shown in the last scene), he calls it an accident and no longer worries about it. (This also is a very subtle sign that Taguchi actually considers it an accident, and brings it up again in a deliberate decision to cast shade on Akanishi. Taguchi might be smiling but he’s very aware of his position and how to manipulate it.) Additionally, when Taguchi chooses to stop stretching it so carefully, you can read it as a sign that his ego has grown to the point that he feels untouchable. It’s always a good idea to be cautious of old injuries, and Taguchi is such a physical person that it’s undoubtedly doubly important.
Taguchi’s lost voice comes up near the beginning and again at the very end. Like his knee, Taguchi’s distant tones are Taguchi distancing himself from the situation with KAT-TUN, essentially being willing to take a backseat in decisions. When he finally becomes a front-man, his voice becomes more confident, reflecting his position as the person that you look to.
One plot thread that didn’t get resolved (on purpose), is Koki refusing to call Taguchi “Junno”. I thought about trying to wrap this up, but I realized that Koki wouldn’t be able to reach a point where he felt like he was friends with Taguchi in this world. The resentment at being second-fiddle to Taguchi was too much for this iteration of Koki, and he never gets over it. I like to think that five years later, Koki & Junno call each other as such.
So what happens after this? Well, for one, I continue to work on other projects and my full-time job, but maybe if I get inspired, I’ll write the thrilling conclusion to this ‘verse: All Roads (Lead to Rome). But honestly, that’s never going to happen.
This is a shorter commentary because there’s a line-by-line annotated copy of bypass that you can download here [x]. That being said…
Happy Birthday Rei
Thank you for your unwavering love and affection.
Back to Bypass
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