Length: 1,000 words approximately
Notes: Knowledge of Pretty much all of Road Not Taken AU is necessary to understand this, but specifically All Roads.
Welcome to what is arguably my favorite part of writing Road Not Taken AU—the post-writing commentary, where I write a lot about writing, my feelings, and how I’m totally going to quit fandom after this fic. This time, I think it’ll stick.
This is probably the first Road Not Taken fanfic that wasn’t technically for Rei. Of course, Rei probably never actually wanted any of this fanfic world, but I like pretending that I’m a dignified adult who has better things to do than to write trash fanfic AUs about the bleakness of the world and the entertainment industry.
I started (and finished) this way before Taguchi announced his solo career, but amusingly, it works just as well. In fact, it works better, because Komine Rena isn’t here and it’s pretty obvious in All Roads that Taguchi’s issues are with an oppressive management controlling his every move over wanting to get married. This fits, actually, even better with the current narrative that we have about Taguchi’s motivations. I guess this is where you say “#calledit”?
Anyways, that all being said, you should read All Roads before you read this, because otherwise it will make zero sense. And if you haven’t read any of Road Not Taken AU, you should read all of that too. Yes, I know, it’s a monstrosity. You can probably get away with just reading To Walk the Higher Road, but All Roads resolves pretty much every plot point, so you really should read all of it.
Let’s talk a bit about this fic then.
I started this after being really out of fandom a long time. It actually got to the point that I had to catch up through about 4 concerts worth of content, so wow I was really behind. It turns out, though, that it isn’t hard to get back into this trash fandom of mine. I’m still very fond of this fandom—good times—and writing All Roads was a good way to walk down the memory lane.
All Roads’ title comes from the saying “All roads lead to Rome” (of which the original latin quote is quoted in the very beginning). The title gives a hint on what the fic entails. Road Not Taken AU is ostentatiously named after the Robert Frost poem discussing how one took the Road Less Travelled. However, in All Roads, the divergence that previously was explored is brought back to the “canon” path. All Roads is named to reflect that despite the fact that everybody has been travelling a separate path, in the end, all roads lead to Rome, and hence all of the major experiences KAT-TUN has had will still occur.
You can read and tell that this sort of happened already. Koki left the group, Jin left the group, concerts occurred, etc., but in this fic I tried to make more blatant references, such as 9uarter Tour (in May), and Taguchi crying.
A lot of this fic was trying to explore Taguchi’s motivation. As I said, when I wrote it, Taguchi hadn’t announced his solo career. Fan speculation was that he was leaving to get married to Komine Rena. Sure, possibly, but really?
Well, in All Roads, Taguchi never dated Komine (hence why he could be a frontman), so that entire line of reasoning was out. As a result, I had to explore a different motivation. Note, of course, that it’s likely to not be the same as his real-world motivation. In Road Not Taken AU, Taguchi’s motivations are more heavily driven by his feeling that he’s lost who he actually is. In the “real” world, it’s more likely that he felt like he wasn’t given as many opportunities as he wanted in the band. Ultimately, I scanned all the member’s statements, and it’s clear there’s some form of disconnect between Taguchi’s motivations and what the job should be and their feelings.
Taguchi has always had a good sense of self. I think ultimately, that’s what made writing Taguchi’s motivations in All Roads easier. Taguchi has sacrificed for 8 years now. He’s lost sight of himself.
In a way, Nakamaru serves as a catalyst for Taguchi to finally make that last decision. Nakamaru points out that he’s changed, but Nakamaru himself hasn’t changed, even though he’s going through an image change. Taguchi sees this and recognizes that he’s become somebody he can’t accept, and this is the point where he chooses to walk away.
However, the questioning starts earlier. Taguchi, in the beginning, thinks that turning thirty means that he’ll be an adult in the entertainment industry. He’ll be less controlled, and will be able to make more decisions for himself/be part of the decision making process. His conversation sort of leads him towards this path, as he questions Ueda (mostly).
Ultimately, he doesn’t get that choice. His manager makes it clear that he doesn’t get that choice, he will never get that choice. Taguchi Junnosuke of KAT-TUN is different from Taguchi Junnosuke the man, and the frontman of KAT-TUN is his manger’s creation and completely under his manager’s control.
Even though Taguchi is the protagonist of this AU, Nakamaru is the narrator, and I want to talk briefly about what the difference is. A narrator is not always the protagonist, even though that’s usually the case. Nakamaru is very much a passive character in this entire story. Characterization wise, he spends the majority of the story searching for something real. He tries to get acting roles, but fails. He tries for a new image, and fails (kind of). Overall, he has pretty much zero character development and nothing ever happens. He extends empty hands throughout the entire story and in the end, he still has nothing.
The closest we get to a character development in Nakamaru’s personality is that he finally, at the very end, after watching yet another member leave, articulates his desire to go back to easier, simpler times.
But Nakamaru serves as an excellent narrator for this story precisely because he fades into the background. Nakamaru serves almost as a proxy for the reader, trying to uncover Taguchi’s feelings at the same time the reader should be exploring the motivation between Taguchi’s (real world) motivation behind quitting the band. Of course, this doesn’t work quite as well, as it’s being posted in November as opposed to August when I finished it, but the purpose still works.
Nakamaru struggles with a similar dilemma as Taguchi, in All Roads. They’re both struggling with their identity within the band. Nakamaru’s is reflected in his struggle to stand out. He tries to change his hair, tries to change his image, etc. Taguchi, on the other hand, is struggling with his identity. Just as Nakamaru talks about his boring hair, he notices Taguchi primping. Taguchi and Nakamaru’s vanity are contrasted with each other, but only the two character experience such detailed description of their physical appearance.
Unlike Nakamaru’s, Taguchi’s vanity shows up only when his manager dictates. In this way, Taguchi is depicted as being entirely a creature of management. It was a deliberate choice to make all of the managers nameless faceless creatures ever present in the background, dictating their every move.
In this way, All Roads reflects my feelings on boyband production. Unlike earlier fanfics, where I wrote more autonomy into each member’s actions, All Roads shows that there is no autonomy. Nakamaru doesn’t go anywhere alone (the most he goes is to a bathroom), Taguchi is always around his manager, Nakamaru doesn’t leave his house unless his manager is picking him up, etc.
All Roads also resolves a lot of unresolved issues that started in Higher Road, including Kamenashi and Taguchi’s relationship. I almost tagged this as a Kamenashi/Taguchi fanfic, so that should tell you something. For more details, the annotated manuscript on google drive is probably your best bet. You can find it here: [Annotated manuscript].
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