I’ve been aware of fan-fiction for years, after all, I’ve began blogging on LiveJournal, many years ago. For those who don’t know there’s a tendency in fan-fiction to pick two characters and create a relationship for them, even if one doesn’t exist in the original material, which is termed as “shipping” these characters. In harem anime, such as The World God Only Knows (Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai) there are shipping wars under the name of “Best Girl” – Everyone argues who the best girl is, the one that will win, the one that should win, according to them.
I myself had never truly taken part in such wars, in most shows whoever people argue for is based on who they as the watchers like, who they’d have been with had they been the MC (and thus you can see why some RomCom anime are based on visual novels, or have visual novel adaptations, so people could go along with their choice), rather than who the story fits. I mean, in OreImo (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute), it’s just obvious that Kuroneko is best girl and who the MC should end up with. In Boku wa Tomodachi (Haganai – I Don’t Have Many Friends) the lack of decision has the girls equal, but they keep having to have outside forces push for Sena because Yozora is just miles ahead otherwise.
That is, until season 3 of TWGOK – The Goddesses Arc. The show’s first two seasons had been an interesting “harem”, in that the girls were “conquered” in order to meet a quota and then everyone forgot everything, and there wasn’t any true romance being advanced. The third season had done away with that, and suddenly we had our poor protagonist with multiple girls falling for him against his own wishes (it’s really not as awful as it sounds). “Best Girl” wars had been joined in earnest, and I didn’t know what to do – they gave each girl an episode or two, and whichever girl had just been on air was the girl I rooted for, Shiori whom Keima could read and complete, Yui who turned the tables on Keima and was conquering him, Chihiro who is similar to him, or Ayumi whom I just like myself? In the end I supported Ayumi, but I know I’m just part of the shipping wars at this point and don’t have more of a leg to stand on than fans of Haqua, Chihiro, or Tenri.
I’ve actually joined in and engaged in some online shipping wars for the show, but in a light-hearted manner; after all, no reason to get worked up over people who are obviously wrong and can’t see the glory that is my chosen girl, Ayumi.
Finally, I want to spend a couple of moments talking about Hato x Madarame, from Genshiken Nidaime. It’s a pairing we the viewers know can’t happen, it’s a pairing the characters know can’t happen. It’s somewhat poking fun at all the fujoshi (“rotten girls”, in this instance used to describe girls who create pairings of two males, often originally depicted as heterosexual, such as Harry Potter and Snape, for instance, or Harry and Ron) with how we know it can’t happen. But the show makes us care for the characters, and walks the fine line which ends with them treating the characters and issues with respect, rather than simply as the butt of jokes.
The end result is that I cheered when I saw the above image, rather than treating it as one big joke. I wasn’t turned into a fujoshi, I just thought it felt natural. This was a case of me thinking it fits the characters, rather than changing the story to fit me.
So, dear readers, any moment this year where you’ve engaged in something that’s very “Anime Culture” (Haruhi Dance, shipping wars, “waifu”), or where you’ve gone back and given another chance to a trope, anime, or genre?
And now, here are thoughts shared by others, related either to these shows, engaging in parts of “anime culture”, or returning to a dismissed show/genre:
Redcrimson: Cross Channel: WTF did I just read?!
I checked the dates for my save files, and they’re dated January 2013. Just under the wire! I, like a lot of people, started my journey into the Visual Novel medium with Katawa Shoujo. It was certainly an eye-opening experience, as I’d always sort of associated VNs with crappy harem dating sims(I did eventually play a few of those, too). But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for Cross Channel. It was a cerebral, exhausting, even frustrating experience. But it was also sooo satisfying. It certainly changed my perception of the medium, and maybe even my understanding of how stories can be conveyed to the audience. It could just be my inner hipster talking, but I like being able to have an interesting answer when people ask me “What’s your favorite VN?”
BigDaddyDelish: Loving Cute Anime Girls:
I’m starting to run out of things here since I typically keep anime as a hobby to myself. I don’t typically share this with people outside of the internet (holy fuck one of these was from internet only interaction ffs), so I’ll just throw out how much I love cute anime girls. This is a newfound love since I only started watching anime for real this year, but cute anime girls just tickle this special place in my otherwise cold, jaded heart. I dunno. There’s just some fuzzy feeling I get watching middle school lesbians flirt with each other and shit. Some stuff like TWGOK actually had a fair amount of depth to it. I dunno, it’s that same fuzziness that people get watching baby seals squirm around in the snow or kittens chasing a laser light. It’s just….. fucking cute. And I love it.
Season Charts: Somewhat Like IKEA Catalogues?
This is less of a specific moment, more of a general habit that I’ve picked up. I can’t stop looking at season charts for the next season, and the season after that. I’ve already earmarked 2 shows I want to watch for the Spring season, and the Winter season hasn’t even started yet! In all the years I’ve watched anime, this is the first year where I actually watched currently airing shows (excluding Bleach) and it feels great to know that once this season is over, I will have new shows to look forward to next season…and the season after that…and the season after that…
High School of the Dead: Realizing that I can actually enjoy ecchi anime
I absolutely despise the ecchi/harem genres, so when I started procrastinating during finals season, I decided to start watching High School of the Dead because I thought it’d be easy to stop. To my surprise, HSotD was a complete blast to watch. Yes, there was a ton of jello boobs and panty shots, but the zombies more than made up for them. I’d forgotten my huge soft spot for anything zombie apocalypse, and HSotD never skimped on the zombie-killing action. Also, the cast was surprisingly likeable. From Busujima to Takagi, Hirano to the MC, they were a joy to watch. Realizing that I can actually enjoy shows from genres I despise led me to trying out quite a few other genres, namely: harem, moe and SoL. I’m still not sold on harem, but K-On wasn’t bad and Usagi Drop was great.
At some point before the summer, I lost the desire to marathon shows. I could watch maybe one or two episodes and then I’d get bored. But at some point, because I still wanted to get through my watch list, I decided to start watching shows in pairs, i.e. one episode of the first show, then one episode of the other show, and so on. This was to deter boredom with one particular show. First up on my list were A-channel and Genshiken. I watched Episode 1 of A-channel and didn’t like it. Then I watched Episode 1 of Genshiken and loved it. After 3 episodes, I dropped A-channel and almost marathoned Genshiken(taking breaks every now and then). And then, a month later, I did the same with Season 2 and the OVA in preparation for Nidaime. I obviously didn’t marathon Nidaime since I watched it while it was airing, but Genshiken really rekindled that desire to get through a show in one sitting due to how fun it is to watch a truly good piece of entertainment. I have a feeling that as I get older, Genshiken will be the one and only show that will retain its full value for me. It may even surpass Saki as my favourite show of all time at some point, even if I never rewatch either(but I probably will rewatch both, several times). It is by no means a timeless show, but my god is it amazing.