I ship it!

Since I got tired of writing only super serious life posts, I’m continuing my Christmas break (lol) with a post about one of my favorite things to do in fandoms. You guessed it from the title, I’m a shipper.

I am that kind of shipper who views shipping as an art form, I never multi-ship, and I put hours of thought into my OTPs, and NOTPS too.

Note: For those of you not in on the fandom lingo, here’s a few terms

Ship: Noun: Short for relationship, usually means erotic, but can mean friendship, if you specify it as such. Verb: To support or hope for said relationship, usually by making fan content or subscribing to other fan’s content, but can just be casually enjoying it on the show or book.

OTP: One True Pairing, your favorite couple, that you cannot see being satisfied with any other pairing, think of it as the soulmate of fictional relationships. Initially it meant the one pairing of the source material overall that you liked, but now it more of means the pairings for each character you prefer, so you can have more than one. For example, your One True Pairing for Batman can be him with Wonder Woman, or with Catwoman, while your One True Pairing for Superman can be with Lois Lane, or with Wonder Woman (depending on what DCU you follow) and you can have both, but Wonder Woman can’t be in both, you have to pick, otherwise it’s called being a multi-shipper.

NOTP: The pairing in a fandom you absolutely hate, usually because you like a different ship more, in my case, it’s because my NOTPS are usually abusive relationships that I find horrifying that people ship at all.

Shipping War: When fans take shipping WAY too seriously and attack each other and the author over it. A debate is not a shipping war per sec, but fans will fight on social media and leave hate comments on the opposition’s videos, like it really make s a difference, and riot if the source Creator doesn’t do what they want, it’s all a joke until shows actually lose ratings over it. No rational fan likes shipping wars.

Just like in my previous post about RWBY, I am making the case that caring about this stuff is not only important if you’re a fan, but also if you’re not, because fandoms are influencing your life way more than you realize they are, unless you are in one.

Seriously, I make friends over this stuff, and other people lose friends over it, and that’s just the beginning of the way fandoms permeate the culture. And that’s global, for the most part. Think how Frozen became a world wide sensation in like a month and it still is 6 years later.

If you still aren’t convinced, then hear me on this: Fandom Logic has permeated even our political social interactions… in fact, if I’m being honest, Politics are the original Fandom.

LSU Press :: Books - Politics for the Love of Fandom
This book goes more into the subject, if you’re interested, I just found it while researching this post.

So, that being said, I’ve learned quite a bit from participating in a few, you really see the good, the bad, and the ugly side of people’s art and love of art and values through fandoms.

And shipping is an especially good way to learn this, since as a woman, I find relationships to be pretty much the most important thing there is, and plenty of men I know or know of take the ships very seriously too. Though they tend to blame the overall show’s tone for what they don’t like, while women tend to focus on the characters themselves and whether or not they have chemistry. I, an intellectual female fan, do both.

I had my days of fan-raging out over stuff I didn’t like, and I sometimes indulge that around people who agree with me almost 100% (who doesn’t) but overtime i realized that it fixes nothing, and no one will ever see your point if you just yell at them. I’ve started being able to calmly discuss things with other fans, and actually diffuse it if they get too worked up. Though it doesn’t always work. I do this more with politics, religion, and other real world issues now too, actually, learning about one helped me learn about the other.

There, I think I’ve justified talking about this so seriously enough now, let’s get to the meat of this post:

Shipping: Why Bother?

So, the top annoying things i hear in fandoms about shipping is the self righterous snobbish comments about it not being improtnatn who gets with who, who kisses, and waht not. That we should focus on the plot.

I fine this stupid and concerning for a couple reasons. The first being

  1. Nothing in the story is real, so why does it matter which particular element people focus on? Are you really saying the plot is more “real” than the relationships, because usually the plot depends on magic, superpowers, or a political system that’s not actually in place int he real world, while relationship dynamics are a real thing, more people care about than they do the so-called “important” stuff.

2. Sex, kissing, and all the rest that goes with are important. That’s literally how we get new life, and have a future on this planet, and in a story it works the same way. Strictly speaking, without couples, there is no real continuation or progression of a plot. Stories that don’t develop ships end up in a weird loop, of never changing dynamics. Even freaking Star Trek eventually added ships to change stuff up and that’s one of the most popular sci–fi shows of all time. Dr. Who has a ton of shipping. Shipping changes stuff in ways other plot points don’t. in franchise like the MCU, adding a next generation of kids because of the couples gives you the opportunity to go into themes like legacy, and carrying on a hero’es mission, even when the circumstances have changed. Yo just don’t get that without a romantic subplot to set it up.

Actually, even stories that keep romance out of it usually have a mentor-ship arc, which is basically a variation of a parenthood arc. So yes, I find it quite important.

That said, I don’t think most fans actually hearken to the idea that shipping is unimportant. Some do find it stupid to argue over it.

I think, in one way, they are right, arguing based on personal taste is a colossal waste of time. I think of the shippers of Zuko x Katara vs Zuko x Mai, yeah, I prefer one, but neither is toxic enough for me to argue about it. In that case it is more of a minor annoyance.

But then, if a ship is promoting a lifestyle, mindset, and set of behaviors that is simply wrong, and that may influence what younger viewers think is acceptable in relationships, I think it is the job of viewers and fans to call it out. After all, we contribute to it if we support this stuff. Which is why I find the shippers of Harleyquin and Joker to be quite scary. The tags “EVIL LOVE” are insulting and degrading the very nature of what love is. Love is never evil, if it’s evil, it’s not really love, just a sick impersonation of it. Why would you support such an abusive relationship?

At this point someone usually argues that it’s just for fun. To which I respond “Bullcrap”

People take this stuff dead seriously, and more and more science supports that fiction affects our brains almost the same way non-fiction does, in fact, it effects us more simply because we consume more fiction than reality, in this culture. We’ve substituted local gossip for shipping discussions.

And, if the amount of toxic relationships in the culture is any indication, we really to believe this crap is normal.

It astonished me after watching Naruto, how many fans saw no problem at all with the way the ships ended, even though at least a couple of them are toxic, and most were not developed at all. But the alternative fandom ships were almost worse, making me wonder if people honestly thought this was relationship goals.

I think people do purposely choose to ignore the red flags in these ships and put the best possible spin on it, and hey, it’s a show, so why is it not open to interpretation?

I used to be more lax about that, but after realizing that in my own life, my family and I had made the same excuses for my dad and my other relatives that people make for fictional characters, I had to wonder, is there really a line of reality?

We use backstory to excuse a lot, and in real life, we do that too. My dad uses his own tragic backstory to excuse all of his behavior, even what is not explained by said backstory (and his is a very anime type kind of story too. Not in a nice way.) I have a prime example of what it might be like to live with an anime protagonist post the show. Allegedly, my dad moved on, overcame his trials by his own efforts and hard work, married happily, settled, and had 3 great daughters. What more could you ask for if this was an anime?

Yet, nothing was truly happy in my household, my dad still related to my mom, me, and my sisters in exactly the same way he related to his toxic family. He didn’t ever have satisfaction in his line of work, even though it was something he enjoyed he stressed constantly and complained and abused his employees.

So, I maintain, if a character has unresolved issues and is shipped anyway, it will remain toxic whatever the fandom chooses to believe. And, an author is probably writing from their experience, so it raises concerns about what they think is okay.

One of the reasons I mentioned that I do not like the Bumblebee ship in RWBY (that’s a gay ship between Yang and Blake, two Main Characters) is that I believe its toxic, and since this is the focus on this post, let’s dive a little bit more into why that is:

I said that Bumblebee was pushed to pander to the fans, and that it took the focus off both character’s development, but I didn’t really go into how it actually works. And since it’s hardly addressed at all, this should be short.

The dynamic of Bumblebee is mostly to be gay, and even LGBTQ fans complain about that very thing, I’ve seen it. If we remove that element, all we have left is a few funny exchanges in season 1, a single heartfelt conversation that was mostly Blake being defensive until the end is season 2, absolutely nothing important in season 3 except Yang trying and failing to save Blake from her psycho-ex (which at that pint in time Yang would have done for any of her team), nothing in season 4 at all. A angry gripe session of Yang in season 5 where she blames Blake for leaving her, and doesn’t try to understand until Weiss of all people point sit out to her, and even then she seems hesitant, but sort of accepts Blake back into the team. In season 6, they spend most of it being uncomfortable with all the unresolved tension and changes in their lives, ending it by tag-teaming Adam to death and reassuring each other they’ll be there for each other. Great!

Vol 7 we get more of nothing, except Nora hinting that they are a thing–Nora, mind you, not them–and Yang saying the wrong thing, and Blake being weird about it, and then both of them discussing what’s going on without having anything notable to say about it, I don’t even remember what they talked about.

In vol 8 so far, we have zero conversations, while they disagree on the plan of action, and Yang worries Blake will look down on her for someone vaguely defined reason (seriously, it makes no sense, Blake did pretty much exactly what Yang is doing in volume 5, of course since they’ve never TALKED about it, maybe Yang is unaware of that fact).

Great history isn’t it? The amount of time Yang and Blake actually spend together NOT making each other uncomfortable is… maybe two scenes? Out of 8 volumes. Yeah, this just doesn’t work for me.

Aside from the dynamic, I also put a lot of thought into personality. Like parents and family usually do for their children, you think what will bring out the best in the other person, what they need, and you look at their track record for clues about any pattern they have in relationships.

Yang has a total of zero relationships that we know of, other than a very negative mother-daughter one, a decent Father-daughter one, and a questionable sister-sister one. She’s consistently annoying and angry at all her other friends and doesn’t listen to any of them except Weiss on one occasion. Terrific. (I didn’t dislike Yang initially thought, I thought she was a good character in volume 5, it just got dropped after that).

Blake does have one relationship, or one and a half, under her belt, and that’s actually my main concern. It was an abusive relationship with Adam, the guy who tries to kill her like two or three times afterward. Since that relationship ended (a straight one I might add) she’s been busy running form her problems, and being pretty reliant on other people for her self-care. It takes Yang really beating it into her head in vol 2 for her to rest a little, with help from Sun. And then Sun has to follow her home and risk his life a couple times for her to get that she needs to stop hating herself and trying to be alone.

I didn’t think all this made Blake a bad character, I could relate to some of what she felt, and it was a good story. However, to me, her development with Sun was a crucial part of it. She was learning to talk through stuff with him, not carry it all inside. To open up to help, and be less defensive and sad. It was solid. She also was strangely unhung-up over Adam while she was around Sun.

Once Sun left, Blake goes back to being freaked out by Adam, and Yang doesn’t really make a difference here. They don’t talk about it more than once, and Blake just ticks Yang ff that time. Then after they kill him, Blake is upset but resolved to be better. I thought that was good for her…but then it’s just kind of gone in the next volume and Blake is acting awkward and insecure around Yang…

And she was literally flirting with Sun a week ago in the show’s timeline.

To me this makes it seem way more like Blake just can’t not be a relationship to have self worth, she relied on other people to help her get through things not in a good way, but in a, “If I don’t get this kind of attention, I shut down” kind of way. She makes no move to talk to or bond with the other characters, and she and Yang continue to not work through their unresolved issues. Which seems far more like her relationship with Adam than with Sun, and not what we should be going for if she’s really learned something.

Together, their dynamic seems codependent, when it’s there at all, most of the time it isn’t. Yang has abandonment issues, and she gets mad at Blake for leaving her… that’s never talked about either. And she never admits that’s she pushing her issues onto Blake when she has no right to do so, as Blake never made her any promises to stay, and quite actively pushed her away most of the time. Blake’s whole aura is “don’t rely on me” Yang, like most neglected kids, is drawn to the familiar, hoping someone will make a different choice and somehow heal them, and sets herself up for disappointment when Blake does what people like Blake do, and runs or refuses to talk to her.

Yang is also angry, which is what Blake’s past failed relationship was like, so it hardly seems healthy for Blake either.

Being with someone like your abuser doesn’t fix trauma, it doubles down on it. Even if they are not “as bad”, it’s still poison.

My mom had an abusive father, he’d get drunk and yell at her, I don’t know if he hit her, she’s never told me. But he’d be angry, inconsiderate, and a jerk. Her mom was stable, but had to work to compensate for her several useless husbands, so my mom was left to mother her younger sister and take care of herself. My mom ever needs anyone that much even tot his day, 40 years later.

My dad ensures that you can’t rely on him, he yelled and stormed at my mom, and made fun of her weight, her singing, her personality, and no matter what we said, he wouldn’t stop. He recreated her trauma, and it didn’t fix a dang thing.

I tend to gravitate toward people who are negligent with me, or toxic, only I don’t realize it till later. It’s scary.

That being said, if Yang and Blake were real people, this relationship would be a bad idea, and in my opinion, it would not last. Blake will get tired of repeating the same patterns, she at least seems to learn slightly. Yang never learns, and will likely just go from person to person, unless some serious character growth happens.

If a fan were to say I was making assumptions, I’d retort that volume 1 and 2 establish Yang as a bit of a violent flirt, and in her own words, she prefers to drift “with the flow”. She doesn’t go through much to change that between volume 1 and 6, so… yeah, I don’t think she’s over it. She tends to be disrespectful to all older women she meets, Maria, Winter, the Ace Ops Females, and any others handy, because she has mommy issues. Then she turns to younger women to try to heal that. At least, it looks that way.

Now, I got all of this by actually watching the show and paying attention, and I’m pretty sure the writers down’t do that. No one seems to notice Yang has a pattern, which you’d think it would have to be intentional, however based on my own writing experience,it’s really not. I write character who consistently play off other characters in patterns, without even trying, because that’s how the personality tells itself to me. Yang has been given Mommy issues, she acts accordingly without the writers needing to plan it, we write what we know.

I wouldn’t have to try to give a character Daddy issues, I do have to try to give them a good relationship with the males in their lives. That’s how it is.

So, I spent a lot of time on Bumblebee to show you how this analysis of ships can work, and why it’s important. The level to which you can recognize these patterns in fiction may mirror the level to which you are aware of them in your own life and your family’s.

It’s not coincidence the at the people who hate Bumblebee also give the most thought out critiques about the show overall, usually. They see that common sense is being thrown out along with the continuity.

I notice most underdeveloped ships are toxic, actually, it’ like without the time and effort to think it out, we default to toxicity, because it’s toxic to not put in effort to something.

Bumblebee is like a n archetype for the main problems with shipping. Things are overlooked that should not be over looked, things are excused that are not excusable, and trust establishment is traded for cute fluffy moments, which to me are never cute if there’s nothing there.

Contrast that to a shoujo like “Lovely Complex” where both Risa’s falling for Otani, and her winning of his trust and affection are drawn out to a length that’s believable with plenty of emotional ups and downs along the way, till the climatic moment where they kiss and he returns her feelings, and you’ll just see the difference. It can be hard to re-watch because it rings so true. I’ve felt a lot of those frustrations, and the show’s message that true love never gives up is a good one. It even matches the Bible when it says “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

Fiction is a great way to experience love as we believe it should be, to give ourselves an idea of what should happen if we could love the way we want to.

I find it highly disturbing when people’s fictional love is worse than my real life love experience, mine isn’t so great, but I’ve still been blessed with some real friends and good family members. When I dream of love in the future, I dream of something better.

Another reason I find shipping just to pander to the audience to be a really bad idea. An author ought to be lifting our gazes higher than we’ve been before, to help us see what we should be looking for, even if they don’t know very well themselves, they need to strive for ideals.

You do often end up with the trashy romance novel tropes if the author has no actual experience to back it up, but Jane Austen was single, yet wrote some of the best romances of our English literature, so if you have a keen mind and an observant soul, I don’t think that has to stop you.

Again, effort is everything here.

When I ship character in my own writing, I test it out as a friendship first, I explore the strengths and weaknesses, and I honestly ask myself if I can promote this kind of dynamic to my potential audience. will this become abusive? Is it encouraging an unhealthy attitude toward love? That sort of thing. Once I find a way to make it good, without being too perfect to be believable, I set the wheels in motion to turn it into a romance. When I introduce a character just to be part of a ship (all writers do it) I try to flesh them out so they contribute more than just that to the story, at some point, the ship may not even be the main thing they contribute.

Since I began taking this approach to shipping, I noticed that fandoms have circles of shippers. People who ship just for the sexual excitement, and people who are looking to learn and benefit by the ships, and raw inspiration for their own lives. You tend to find more single people in the first circle, and people who are probably since for a reason, in the second you find more people who have successful relationships, and enjoy talking about them. That’s pretty telling right there.

Some fans ship superficially, and root for one character for no particular reason other than they are hotter, and they like that dynamic better. The “bad boy” “sad boi” or “angry boi’ thing turns them on, ( usually it’s women, if it’s men…normally it’s just how thicc the female is..sadly, there’s some exceptions, but superficial shipping is grossly predictable).

The ones like me and my friends tend to ship more for development’s sake. We wait to see who will be the healthiest, sweetest match, and go from there.

People still argue over the best option, but these debates tend to be more civil, not always, but usually, and we can see the other person’s point a little, because we actually think about the ship from different angles.

It’s like how in real life, when you want to marry someone, you can’t just think of the butterflies,you have to think of finances, family, location, the future, all that. And with the fight person, that can be exciting or at least you will get stronger because of it; with the wrong person, that stuff causes everything to fall apart. (And you may be the wrong person at times).

One thing I no longer ignore in shipping is family. I used to, but now I realize that behavior that is sown into you will come back out in some form or another.

In the MHA fandom, I love Shoto Todoroki’s character because the show takes the time to show how he acts like his father even when he doesn’t intend to, and then he confronts that and changes, proving he is not his father, but giving a realistic portrait of how it is for all of us from toxic backgrounds. On the other hand, we see Uraraka, who has great partners, often acts insecure despite that, showing we still have to choose to benefit from good parents. Both these characters carry that into their potential ships, and to my surprise, I have found fan content that addresses that, plus content from the creator himself has.

There are case where the victim of abuse will not abuse their spouse and kids the same way they were abused, my dad didn’t beat us, for example, but he was still violent in other ways. And usually if it doesn’t come out in the same kind of violence, it comes out in overcompensation the other way in self defense. Leading to neglect, and emotional distance from the family.

With all human efforts to fix things, you have to pay the piper. You aim for one thing, you get it, you lose something else. It’s just how we are, we can’t be everything, only God can love without compromising, and enable us to do so.

Why does all this need to trickle back to shipping? Though. It’s not real, it can’t make us happy.

That is true.

Actually, the best shippers are the ones who don’t rely on ships to make them happy. I’ve done my time looking to fill my emotional void with romance writing, but the older I get, the less it works. I find I am more interested in seeing what I can apply to my own life, and what I can’t. I prefer to write ships that way too. Too cotton candy, and you lose any sense of reality; too toxic, and it ceases to be helpful. It’s not that complicated, but boy does it require effort.

The startling truth that most non-writers don’t know is that writing romance is freaking hard. It’s a challenge, even for subpar writers, to build a whole relationship in a story.

You see, Love, even if it’s in fiction, is never easy. It’s why series like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey start one way, and end another. You can’t write just about sex and feels all the time, romance eventually forces you to look at your own life. even if it’s clumsily done, some element of actual love starts to find its way into any ongoing romance. If it’s longer than one book, or one season, the writer can’t help it, they start to change the story around it.

Love is not stagnant. Sexual love has phases, just like every other kind, and each one is glorious in its own way. It challenges you. The act of sex itself is not really just about physical pleasure, anyone who takes it seriously knows that, it’s about giving, and learning to receive. Learning together. That’s why it makes a good metaphor for love in general, and God compares the Love between Him and US to a romantic love. It’s because it takes you so high, yet it requires all you got to give, or it dies off.

Even in fiction, Love is powerful. It gives people hope to read about it even when it’s not real, because they hope, somewhere out there, it is.

Which is why, we need to be so, so careful what we call a good idea in a relationship. Hint: It’s not choking someone else.

The rise of kinky shipping in fandoms is not something I see as a good sign. and there’s some evidence it’s on the rise in our real world relationship too, to the point where we’re no longer feeling ashamed of it.

Now, I’m not talking a fetish for a particular body part, I don’t really see that as much of a concern, widely. But normalizing violence in relationships, it’s a problem. People other than me notice that kids try to imitate anime, with it’s violent love tropes, and its harmless to a point, but then it’s not.

Plus, I’ve said before I think fiction is where people with unhealthy parents often turn to find something better to base their own ideals on, and it can’t be made light of in that way.

I guess, lastly, I hold even frictional love to be sacred, in a way. The same way fiction that riffs on good parenting is disgusting, fiction that promotes abuse is disgusting. To give glory to something, even in the imagination, that is base and vile is still wrong. In fact, making light of abuse is arguably only helping it continue to circulate. Because I believe in the Bible, I believe Love should be taken seriously, though it’s perfectly fine to be lighthearted about it, if you are lighthearted because the people are happy and trust each other.

This basically became an essay about shipping, but that’s how I roll.

I still have more I could say about this, but that’s enough for one post. Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

My (updated) thoughts on RWBY.

Well, it’s been over a week, and I thought I’d take a break from blogging about my life and instead return to a well worn subject: Things I watch.

Namely RWBY. Volume 8 has been releasing since last month, and will be going on hiatus after this week till February, I hear, so it seems like the perfectly imperfect time to talk about the show again.

I started watching RWBY about 2 1/2 years ago, when Vol 5 was out and Vol 6 was coming in, I think, 6 months or so. I blogged about it back then, and I’ve mentioned it since and used the characters for references in other posts, so if you read that stuff, you probably remember my interest in it… but if you’re new, stick around, this is never boring.

Breakdown

If you don’t watch RWBY, I’ll give you a brief break down. It’s center around 4 girls who are on a team of huntsmen (like superheroes combined with special operatives, typical anime idea), and their quest to save Remnant, their world. The first 3 volumes focus on developing the characters and their dream and goals, and the next 5 focus on world building, and explaining the main conflicts of the story.

It’s been said by many other fans that the show is inconsistent about what those conflicts are. Volume 4 focus on revealing the BIG BAD, Salem, the archetype of evil in the world. The she-devil, basically. The ruler of the monsters that devour people, only humans too, no animals. Volume 5 focused more on the racism in the world because the show tries to be woke (not that I minded the theme if it was consistent), Vol 6 goes back to explaining about Salem and Ozpin, the alleged Dumbledore/Professor X of this world, and their history of a very Magneto vs Prof X kind of struggle, with some Thanos MCU type villain stuff thrown in, and healthy dose of probably the worst mythology of gods I’ve ever seen. It really makes no sense.

I didn’t really mind this too much though, I was still invested up till Vol 7.

But last year the show just took a weird turn, and fans have been arguing since about why it has and who’s to blame and if it can get back on track.

And why should we care?

Because I think the problems with RWBY are ones that reflect our culture overall, and the show is just a particularity cringy example of them, but I see them everywhere, and it’s pretty telling about the mindset people have nowadays.

First of all, the writers do not know how to write. I tried hard to believe they did, after Vol 3, the last one Monty was involved in, and Vol 5, the last one I actually liked the ending of. Partly I had the benefit of getting to watch all of them consecutively, so the slow pace didn’t bother me, I now understand why the older fans must have found it frustrating.

I still maintain that Volume 5 is not the train-wreck everyone says it is for the simple reason that it accomplishes something, it has two story threads that it keeps up with consistently, even if they do drag on in places, and the ending at least makes sense, once it’s all tied together, plus gives us a few emotional moments.

Volume 6 seemed okay to me up until the last episode where I just couldn’t buy Cordovan letting them go, it was too convenient.

Volume 7 however, has the real problems with writing in my opinion.

Now aside from this blog, I write original stories, fan fictions, and papers for college classes when necessary. I read other author’s writing tips whenever I can. I read classics. I watch videos breaking down story structure, tropes, and character development. I don’t agree with all of it, but I’m well immersed in the community and culture of writing, and I’ve personally encountered the difficulties I’ve seen in this show, and others.

So, I don’t criticize writers lightly, I feel it’s tough to be a writer, especially with someone else’s show. But since I write fan fiction, I am pretty familiar with how you convert other people’s ideas into your own story. I’ve gotten very good at it, by trial and error.

All this to say, I did not go from being a fan to a hater willingly, on RWBY, and I think that’s important, because with art, it’s the people who truly want to love it and polish their own skills who should be talking about it, not the people who just want to get what they want. I don’t criticize art lightly.

I have my preferences, but I critique things differently based on personal taste, than based on actually deep flaws. Like, I hate Belle in the Disney Beauty and the Beast, I always have, I don’t think that makes the movie the worst princess movie, I’d argue it’s better than most of the other renaissance movies plot-wise, but I loathe Belle. It’s not my cup of tea. Still, if someone else likes it I don’t question their whole outlook on movies and stories in general.

Versus Naruto, where the people who praise Itachi and Pain and Obito scare the crap out of me. How the heck can you excuse literal mass murderers on the grounds that they “thought they were doing the right thing” especially when Itachi admits he knew it was a horrible thing to do and still did it… ugh.

So, with RWBY, I’m not going to be superficial. Yes, I find some new elements very annoying in the later volumes, but those are not really what bother me, I might even get to like them if the other problems weren’t there, and if the problems weren’t there mostly because of our culture’s very strange approach to shows and content.

You can find whole videos explaining in detail what’s wrong with the new volumes, I recommend the ones by Vexed Viewer if you want the closest to my opinion, and he was not always a hater either, I think. He is mostly fair and doesn’t just whine because it didn’t go how he wanted it to like some other fans I’ve watched.

So, I will just briefly describe what I mean, I can’t possibly be as thorough here as a whole video could be to each separate item, or cover them all.

But I think the three main things that bother me are:

  1. Changing character’s personalities and values and goals completley from vol 1 to volume 8, or even vol 7 to vol 8.
  2. Forgetting the lore established earlier, or changing it to be plot convenient.
  3. Pandering to one part of the fandom, and ignoring the other part.

Let’s start with number 1.

I loathe character inconsistency more than almost any other flaw in storytelling. So, I denied RWBY had changed its characters for a very long time, but vol 7 finally did it for me. Winter was the last straw.

I loved Winter Schnee in vol 3, and if you follow the short stories the company releases, we find out a little more about her, she’s a great character. Also a victim of familial abuse and neglect, she has a lot of traits I could relate to, we’re both the older sisters, we both tried to protect our younger siblings from our parents, an both feel the need to be strong, independent, and not let our guard down easy. We also both have tempers. That was all established with only a few scenes, a great VA (Elizabeth Maxwell is superb), and a little manga detail that is considered canon. Winter is awesome. Volume 7 did something to her I just couldn’t get behind.

I am not going to say I expect Winter to be perfect, I thought she’d probably be loyal to Ironwood to a fault, (I actually wrote fan fiction dealing with just that subject), but what I wrote and believed, is that someone as independent as Winter, who questioned her father enough to abandon her inheritance and join the military, and who is capable of being a top level Atlas Elite, basically the right hand woman to Ironwood, would really be so much of a sheep as to follow all his terrible orders in vol 7’s finale without so much as a word of protest. I also don’t believe someone who spent most of her time at home taking care of Weiss and preparing her to be strong, would immediately turn on her and tell her to run away… and arguably, before Weiss had really done anything worthy of being arrested other than disagree with Ironwood.

I’m sorry, it just doesn’t compute. Winter’s loyal, but that loyal?

Thankfully, vol 8 seems to be suggesting she’ll reconsider, and maybe she can be salvaged, but I still think it’s bad writing to make her such a predictable person when her best trait in vol 3 was being able to show us two very different sides to her in just two or three scenes. I’d say she was one of the best written characters of the show. It’s hard to tell people so much in so little time, I’ve struggled to do it myself. But experienced writers do it all the time, most really good movies establish a character in the first 10 minutes.

Winter is a personal peeve of mine, perhaps, but she’s honestly the least of the examples here. The main cast have much, MUCH bigger issues.

As most people have acknowledged, both Blake and Yang have gone downhill since vol 6. Yang got really good development in vol 4 and 5, and Blake had an actual arc (rare on this show) with Sun, her love interest (more on that in a second) and then vol 6 hit and… something just went off the rails. I didn’t care about the PTSD that much, because it’s not the same for everybody, and not everybody has it the same, but Blake just seemed to forget about the faunas after spending two volumes getting involved in taking back the White Fang. Yang seems to forget about her Mommy issues with Raven (and by the way, she’s still not bothered to tell anybody that Raven is the Spring Maiden, which could be kind of important, since Cinder is going around hunting down maidens and also knows Raven is one. Yang may not know that, but still, if they want to put the relic back, it might be kind of important!) They kill Adam (which was great, I never liked him, though a little rushed I thought) and then volume 7 has them making goo goo eyes and forgetting to ever discuss their unresolved issues. Vol 8 is doing even worse with it so far.

About the ship, I never liked it. I don’t ship LGBT stuff anyway, but I can acknowledge when it’s written better and when it’s not. And this has to be almost as bad as She-Ra’s, but at least one of these girls didn’t try to kill each other.

But they’ve never talked about Yang’s anger with Blake for running off, Blake’s weird behavior about Yang’s arm, or either of their trauma with Adam. I’ve never seen them “Talk” really openly and unrestrained, since volume 2. 2! Yet somehow I am supposed to think they are a good couple? Heck, Weiss and Yang would make more sense if we went by actual communication.

Of course my chief annoyance is that Yang was straight in vol 1 and checking out the boys, while Blake was interested in Sun from that volume all the way up till volume 6. 6! and they dated a couple times. But nope, I’m supposed to forget that and believe she liked Yang the whole time and Yang went from straight to gay in the course of one year with no circumstances prompting it whatsoever.

You know, even if I wrote this kind of stuff, I wouldn’t just change it half way through without any development. In real life people transition from straight or gay due to a myriad of circumstances and steps, it doesn’t just happen. There’s no struggle in this show, no reason for it. It’s just inconsistent. And that is bad character writing.

There are fans who justify it for literally no other reason than that they “need representation” that they don’t get as much as us straight people, so even if it’s bad, they still need it.

Well, first of all, that’s pathetic. I don’t appreciate bad portrayals of Christians in movies just because it’s so rare to find us portrayed at all. Do I need the world’s approval or endorsement of my lifestyle? No.

Second, is it the job of writers and artists to boost the self esteem of their fans? It’s nice when they do, I don’t mind when shows choose to tackle hard subjects because they want to contribute something. But when the fandom is demanding it, and throwing a fit if they don’t get what they want, and saying they are “owed” representation, then where exactly do they get off?

I ask, is it a writer’s job to endorse your personal choices? Or to even care to validate your identity, if you choose to base it on something as flimsy as sexuality or race? Why do they need to do that? They are just trying to tell a story, why does it need to have a political message?

If that is the point of the story, I have no issue, I just won’t watch it if I don’t want to see it. But if the story was initially about something else, and that got added only because it’s “woke” and the fandom clamored for it, then that’s extremely irresponsible of the writers and extremely insensitive of the fans.

When I criticize a show for not doing what I want, I do it because I think there is a standard of morality that every good show has to follow: good is good, evil is evil, truth is important, Love is the most valuable thing there is, Unselfishness is better than selfishness, etc. How each piece of art interprets those themes is up to them, I learn a lot from the differences.

If a political agenda is thrown in there, I sometimes don’t mind if it’s tastefully done, but then there’s Zootopia, something that’s jamming the comparisons down your throat till it’s not a story anymore, it’s one 90 minute long metaphor that I’d have been able to read much faster if it was in book form.

Pandering

This is point 3 also, the writers of RWBY pander to the fans who have a political agenda. They pander to the ones who think race has to be talked about in every single work of fiction, and that Gay Pride deserves to be reinforced in every single show and movie there is.

Which is kind of like saying if every movie doesn’t have at least one romance, it’s bad. And if every movie doesn’t have at least one black character, it’s bad… oh wait, they already do say that.

Yes, because the color of someone’s skin is what decides the quality of their work… oh, wait, that’s racist… then why do black people have to be included? I don’t care if they are because they are good, but why are the races of classic characters altered just to be more inclusive? Isn’t that a bit untrue to the original author’s work? Why should we change it just to appeal to people’s political agendas? You know, that used to be called propaganda.

Not to belabor the point, but RWBY has been doing this for the past 2 years and it’s not surprising that everything interesting about Yang and Blake has been completely forgotten. They aren’t in the story to be characters anymore, they are in it to make the fans happy.

If you are going to ask me why the fans shouldn’t be happy, then let me explain what I mean.

I think pandering is okay if it’s harmless, like Easter Eggs, stuff that doesn’t change the plot, it’s just there to be cute, funny, or show the fans the writers appreciate them. My Little Pony did some great stuff like that in its filler and Easter egg episode’s.

I think listening to criticism that is well thought out and shows an understandinf of the plot and direction of the show is perfectly fine.

But I do not think doing a major twist or change solely because “the fans wanted it” and “representation is good” is a reason to include anything. It’s always clumsy when it’s done for that reason anyway. I can’t name one time it’s felt natural to me when I watch, and even the supporters of it admit that. They know it’s just there to “represent” them, not because it feels natural.

With every good story, the plot twists are surprising, but fit naturally into the rest of the story. Things build off each other. They make sense. The changes in Ozpin’s character worked well, we always knew he was suspicious and irresponsible, finding out why and how, made sense (though I hate the gods part, it’s so badly conceived), but by contrast, Ironwood acts one way in vol 3, continues to act that way up through half of volume 7, then snaps, and goes full on dictator villain.

I thought he would corrupt because anyone who would jam someone’s soul into someone else’s body is already crossing the moral line and then some, but to become heartless and domineering to that point in the course of literally one day in actual story time… how? Why? Why wouldn’t he hesitate? Why is no one questioning this sudden callous, irrational behavior? And how is he stupid enough to let Watts hack Penny, a twist my siblings and I predicted since the ending of the last volume, and possibly before, according to my sister, and yet the people who designed Penny can’t predict it…what?

Sue me for thinking there would actually be explanations for this…

Though stupidity is a minor annoyance for me, since it’s usually inevitable with shows that go on for longer than 3 or 4 seasons. It’s really hard to keep a story going that long, especially without an original ending in mind, and characters tend to be dumb when the plot calls for it.

But stupid and immoral are not the same thing.

Vexed Viewer actually pointed out to me that in volume 7 team RWBY is against focusing on the world instead of Mantle, but in vol 8, with no apparent transition, half the team suddenly thinks they should focus on the world, and the other half thinking they should focus on a single city. Which they haven’t a prayer of saving anyway, as they all know deep down. So, basically, Ruby agrees with Ironwood… so why turn on him, and make yourself a public enemy then? Why not compromise? Ask him if you and your team could help Mantle privately, while some of you help with Atlas… why not do that? Jaune could come up with that plan in 5 minutes… of course, he wasn’t there in vol 7, so I guess that explains it, Ruby is just dumb.

I liked Ruby, honestly, up till vol 7. She wasn’t my favorite, but she has a personality, I believed in her intentions. Now I can’t understand what she’s doing at all. She wanted to help people and be a hero, now she’s acting like she has to single handedly have all the answers and no one can do anything unless she approves of it…which is the opposite of how she was in vol 1. She didn’t want people to think she was special.

This isn’t an arc, however, because at no point did Ruby ever come to grips with being special, she just suddenly starts thinking she’s the bees knees, to use Yang’s term. And Yang actually puts pressure on Ruby by saying “she always knows the right thing to do” and then takes zero responsibility for Ruby making bad decision because she’s forced to do it on the spot and no one else will step up and have an idea. Then Yang, the biggest supporter of Ruby as a leader, turns on her with no warning and says she’s been making bad choices… yeah, Yang, and you were right there questioning them the whole time right? No, you weren’t. You never questioned any of them till now.

I hesitated to use the word bad, but this is bad. Objectively, it just isn’t consistent or built up to at all.

Some might say I am biased because I am A Christian and these changes go against my world view.

Well, I would still disagree with the moral direction of these decisions, but I do criticize Christian art also, when poorly written, and one of the worst ways it is is when conversions are rushed. They just happen for no reason. No drama or progress. Or depth. A Conversion is the most common arc in a Christian story, though there are others.

So, if I compare RWBY to my own standards, I still think it’s being badly done. But the change is recent. Up till vol 5, I didn’t think the characters had changed drastically.

I can’t say exactly why it changed, but I think the moment I would pinpoint as the real change was the death of Adam. Adam was a useless character by that time, I agree he could have been more interesting, but I hated his guts too much to care about it, and I don’t think his death hurt the show in any measurable way. People bemoan the lack of importance more than the actual effect of it. However, it was then that the Bumblebee ship began to be pushed for no reason, and Yang and Blake both started saying weird stuff that made no sense.

However, I really wasn’t sure it was going to go bad till the end of vol 7 when all the characters started doing stuff I couldn’t understand at all, turning on each other, and playing right into Salem’s hands. Like they are doing this on purpose?

Now in vol 8, Ren is pointing out the obvious, that the characters are not ready to be heroes. Well, great, that’s what the fans have been saying for years… so, you’re agreeing with us… and then what…?

Personally, it almost seems like the writers are admitting they have no idea what they are doing or why, and are hoping they will stumble upon the answer.

As a writer myself, I know that if I had any clue where I was going with the story, I’d have set it up by now, I wouldn’t be waiting for 5 seasons to get to the point. I would have had the characters actually change and grow by now, having petty fights in the team should have been a thing back when it first assembled, not now. Now when they can’t afford to be disagreeing and having resentment.

I can say this because I’ve written very similar stories and had to time this out myself, I’m not just underestimating the difficulty of doing this.

Now it’s true I have no fanbase to please, but I am not overly concerned with pleasing the whims of people, I want to go for something meaningful. When you change whole plot points just to please fans, you have a real conflict of interests.

To go back to Bumblebee (which is truly the poison all this started from if you track it because it’s the first time the writers did something just to appease fans) it was never really established for five volumes, while BlackSun, the ship between Blake and Sun, was built up in every volume. They had moments in 1, 2, 3, 4 , and 5. with 1 and 5 featuring Sun as important in two major steps in Blake’s life. Sun, in fact, gets Blake out of the hole she digs herself into on both those occasions, plus they date and flirt in between.

Now, ship or no ship, Sun is huge part of her arc, and it would be wisest to keep him relevant since that would encourage building off her arc. As soon as he’s gone, the show can’t really drive Blake forward because her parents and friends who were helping her grow are gone and she’s on RWBY, where she doesn’t really have anything to contribute, since racism is not the focus of that team. Since Blake has nothing to add to the central themes of wanting to be a hero and telling the truth, as she’s never been great at either of those two things, and does not even call on her bad experiences to help the others avoid making her same mistakes (something that would actually be useful right about now).

And then they push Yang, but don’t do any of the actual work to make that believable. One talk in volume 2 doesn’t cut it.

Losing both Blake and Yang’s depth affected the wider plot, since if Yang talked about Raven, the drama of volume 5 might actually have led to something with the girls and Qrow. If Blake talked about Adam, maybe they could have used the White Fang as a guideline for how to help resolve tensions in Atlas. But no, nothing. Because ship, ship, ship.

Lore

Lastly, my second point. There’s one glaring problem with the lore. It might be overlooked if it was the only problem, but it adds insult to injury.

Penny has become a maiden… even though she is a robot. Maidens had to be girls, had to be young, and had, we thought, to be human. Otherwise, why the heck would they not try to put the power into a machine before? And Penny has a soul, allegedly but it’s a man’s soul, since it came from her father. There should be no way she could take on the maiden powers.

It’s one thing, but it kind of throws off the whole build up since volume 3 of the rules and lore around the magic, and makes you question if the writers just want any excuse to do what they want and make Penny important. Which I wouldn’t mind, if it was following their own rules.

Is someone holding a gun to their heads and making them break the rules they wrote into the show? The world may never know.

I think I explained already why I think this is important. I guess this turned into a post about the intergrity of writing and art in general. Which I could defintely follow up with some other posts expanding ont the differnt points.

But for now I think that’s enough to mull over, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Bringing people back to life.

“Was it you ‘mid the fire and the ember? Were you there to bedevil and beguile?

See, your face isn’t quite as I remember, but, I know, that wicked shape to your smile.

Bury me as it pleases you, lover, at sea or deep within the catacombs,

but these bones never rested while living, so, how can, they stand to languish in repose?”

(Where is Your Rider, The OH HELLOS.)

Today I want to jump right into a rather unusual topic for blogs.

This began for me by thinking of one of the shows I’ve given my patronage too, that is RWBY.

I have my issues with it, but last year’s season brought some new ideas to the table.

Namely, one episode that raised the question: Is it okay to want people to come back from the dead?

You know, as much as people like to tell you that we’re all entitled to our own opinion, and that we don’t need to talk about it if we have differences, and that we should focus on our strengths, yada yada, I never see so much engagement online or in real life as when it becomes about a moral or religious question (if they are really different, which I doubt.)

A lot of people’s comment on this episode is that death must be accepted and why should one person get what millions of people do not get.

Some people think, it’s no big deal, can’t gods (or God) being people back to life with a snap of the fingers, why not just do it?

Some say, the person has to be worthy of being brought back. It gets real twitchy at that point.

Well, as Christian, I found this debate rather interesting. All religions address the idea of life and death, most of them address the idea of whether people can be brought back to life.

Egyptian and Greek Mythology famously contain myths about trying to bring back dead people or dead gods.

What’s funny too, is that almost every religion gives some reason why people must die and stay dead.

And most modern interpretations of the issue feel the need to justify why people must stay dead.

Even though, strangely enough, the idea that resurrecting people is possible is everywhere. Even through time travel, as the least magical or mystical way to achieve it (sort of).

Have you ever thought about it?

The great writers I’ve read have all encouraged me to think more seriously about ideas that are common to almost all people. Why do we dismiss the things everyone wants, everyone thinks about, as wishful thinking?

It would be more sensible to ask, if this desire shows up everywhere, like hunger and thirst, shouldn’t there be a reason for it?

Grief itself is proof of it’s own strangeness.

Grief is universally shocking. That’s one of the first emotions of it. When we lose someone, even a pet, even a plant, we are stunned.

Even in war times when it was likely, we are surprised.

And we wish it didn’t have to be so.

So when it comes to the idea of raising the dead, it seems to taunt us in a way.

Shows, especially anime and magic-based shows, are very fond of bringing up the issue almost in mockery of the bereaved.

Like bringing back characters who we wish could stay alive, but in ways that make it impossible to be happy. They come evil, they come back because of some terrible crime, or they come back but don’t remember who they were.

That dream of resurrections isn’t truly achieved.

And usually the other characters have to let them go back to the afterlife. If there is one on the show or in the book.

In myths, the idea of bringing back loved ones tends to backfire. Like, you’re messing with nature.

Odd, considering resurrection is actually a part of nature.

The process of reproduction is basically a resurrection in of itself. Let alone the stories all of us have heard or read of recoveries that don’t make sense, out of body experiences, people coming back to life after being declared medically dead.

Death is the most unnatural part of nature.

At least if you believe the Bible.

Skeptics might look at the Bible and declare that death is part of the ecosystem, that we could not survive as a species if we did not die, if animals did not die.

But they assume two things, one, that the ecosystem we have now is the only one we could have.

Two, that the world is the same as it always was, which the Bible claims is not true, that at one time our resources were far greater.

Lastly, though the skeptic may laugh at this, it’s a bit stupid to think that God who made all things could not replenish the earth if we exhausted our resources. He already does that.

The same with death, really. If things do get worse over time, it really doesn’t matter. The bible says God renews youth like the eagles.

So that death happens is strange. But that it is irreversible would also be strange.

Why on earth would it be?

Death, according the Bible, is the offspring of Sin. No sin=no death. The God who could remove sin could remove death also.

We still die, naturally.

Christianity, it’s been pointed out, would be a hopeless religion if Jesus did not raise the dead.

It’s odd that the thing many religions are afraid of, and modern writers tend to treat as an abomination, as a weakness of the person who refuses to let go, the Bible treats as barely an inconvenience.

In both the old and new Testament, raising the dead requires less time and effort than climbing a mountain; phases people less than the voice of God; and barely even shocks them, after the initial amazement.

Elijah raised a boy from the dead, I think Elisha did also, Jesus raised at least three on record, probably more, Peter raised one. Paul presumably was raised from teh dead by God. And Jesus Himself of course.

It doesn’t even seem to stun these people.

What’s hilarious, if you’re comparin it to how we treat the subject in myth and ficiton, is that when the dead are raised in the Bible it’s never for them. Never based on what they deserve.

Because, you see, if they were in heaven, they are far better off, and it’s ridiculous to talk of deserving to return to this messed up world.

If they were in hell, clearly they didn’t even deserve earth.

Nope, every time it’s for the bereaved. The very thing RWBY, other shows, and myths all decry as the worst reason to resurrect someone, is the only reason the Bible does so besides just straight up God-force, like when Ezekiel brought a whole valley of bones to life, and saints resurrected after Jesus died. (Google it.)

Jesus raised Lazarus for the sake of his sisters, Peter raised Dorcas for the sake of her friends, Elijah raised the son of the woman who sheltered him for her sake.

Is it selfish to wish people back from the dead then?

That’s the idea behind telling people “Why should you be any different from anyone else?”

Funny thing is, the Bible abhors that idea.

The Bible’s question to all men and women is always “Why shouldn’t you be different from everyone else?”

“All men die, few men ever really live”–Braveheart

Why should you sin, and die, like all men? Why not seize onto the offer of Christ, as anyone who reads His word is given the chance to do?

Well, the goal of Christianity is that we will all be saved and so share the same fate, but at the very least, you yourself should be saved.

When you consider that life is the normal state of things, it is not remarkable to want people back from the dead. Death interrupted them.

One zany anime has coined this feeling exactly, you probably can guess, if you’re an anime person, that I mean Dragon Ball.

Dragon Ball classically treats death as an inconvenience that is remedied multiple times even for the same character. People joke that death has no consequences on that show, like that’s a downside.

But the Bible teaches exactly that. “O Death, where is your sting?”

The idea most ridiculous to most people is that death does not have a sting anymore, that it could be a nuisance, not a tragedy.

But, hell is the tragedy. Our bodies dying is a inconvenience.

Before I end this, I suppose I should answer the question as to why people still die.

Christians, specifically, since we are the ones who claim we will live forever.

The best answer I have, and I am no expert, is what Paul says about the corruptible putting on the incorruptible.

The body, because we’ve had it while sinners, is corruptible. Many health issues come for sin, a lot of death comes from sin. Jesus, in a mortal body, died.

Mortal bodies pay the price of sin, whether it’s the person’s who has it, or someone else sinning against them.

After all, if they did not, sin would be a minor problem also, or men would at least treat it as such.

But, when we die, as Christians, the Word says we change this body for a new one. We are not ethereal spirits floating through space, we remain ourselves. Our body is a tent, Paul says, one we will upgrade eventually. The body is the last part of oneself to be redeemed form death.

The reason is, God starts form the top, Spirit, Soul, Mind, and Body is the least important part.

That’s to the  best of my knowledge.

Yet, if Jesus had not raised the dead, I’d be foolish to trust that idea. WE must know resurrection is possible before we can trust ourselves to be resurrected after we die.

see, the Faith of the Christian all comes down to this: Are we willing to be resurrected into a different world? Are we willing to leave earth and accept heaven?

It sounds like anyone would, but heaven is scary. IT’s unfamiliar. There have been christian hesitant to go there.

Some people joke about going to hell because all their friends will be there.

Well, that may be, but it wouldn’t comfort you.

Hell is as unnatural to us as heaven, the only difference (other than torment) is that Heaven is not isolation, and so we will have help. While Hell is isolation, utter and total. And if you know of people there, it only make it worse. (See the story of the man who asked Abraham to warn his brothers not to go there.)

It’s a smaller matter to be raised to lif eon earth, that’s a return to an old form, but to be raisedin heaven, it’s going to be different.

That’s why old stories and new stories often do not go far enough. They ask if we should want the dead to be raised, but they never ask if we should want the dead to come back stronger and better than before.

(Except Dragon Ball, that old show really just hit it by accident, didn’t it?)

Lastly, this is one example of a very real truth: That Christianity is not about accpeting thins as they are.

It is about knowing things are not the way they should be, and doing soemthing about it.

IT is dangerous how much the idea of acceptance has crept into the church, and the culture around it. Sure, we should accept people initially as they are.

But we should not accept that thins will never change, because they will. It’s just a matter of whether it’s for the better or worse.

Either you are moved by the world, or you move it  yourself. Archimedes had the right idea.

Image result for archimedes move the earth image

 

Until next time–Natasha.

The Element of Wisdom.

I’ve gotten into MLP (My Little Pony) lately. I never thought I’d like the show, but I found it surprisingly insightful.

Weird.

Well, I never thought I’d be an anime person either.

Anyway, I’m not writing about the show, but it has a thing called Elements that represent things you need to have friendship, or any really healthy relationship.

And in the habit of using the show’s lingo, I call what I want to write about an element also.

It is an element of relationships, but it’s interesting to me that it’s also an element of writing a good story.

I noticed it over the past year because of getting into two different shows, which I’ve mentioned. RWBY and My Hero Academia.

A lot of people in the anime community like both, at least in the USA. RWBY has a pretty good sized fan base for the production level it’s on, and MHA is the top rated anime in the world.

And the only thing I’ve ever seen besides Frozen where I could say “It deserves the hype.”

But you aren’t here for me to talk about that, (I think).

And my real point is the difference between the two.

Before I say it though, let me clarify: I by no means intend to say that MHA or RWBY are exclusive examples. Any two shows you liked for different reasons you could make the comparison between, it is only because they are the ones I watch that I use them, I can’t very well explain a show I haven’t seen. But I’m not one of those fans who think the only good in anime or any genre has to come from their favorite. (Seriously, though, they are so good. If you are into that sort of thing.)

I like the shows for very different reasons. But the difference I see is that MHA has actually helped me figure out and work through some of my problems. It feels like no coincidence that I started watching it at the beginning of 2019, and this year has led to a lot of developments in my personal life that I’ve wanted to see happen for years. The show encouraged me to look at them more closely.

RWBY did help me realize some issues, but did not provide a lot of answers. To be fair, it is not as far along in some ways.

What struck me though, was that MHA makes the most of every opportunity to nail home a lesson, a meaning, and people who normally hate that are eating it up.

The writer is very good. He uses characters very much like I do when I write. He also is possibly even more preachy, in the best way, and I love it.

It had such a different feel from RWBY, and I wondered why, because a lot of plot elements are extremely similar.

Yet, there is one character on RWBY that I think explains what happened.

Everyone who watches RWBY knows after season 3 things changed. People argue whether it was for the better. I’m sure you’ve read series or seen shows where people got into the same thing after some big change.

For RWBY, as in many stories, a huge change was the death of fan favorite Pyrrha Nikos.

I’ve been in my share of fandoms, this is one of the first that I got reactions to negative changes in. I’ve seen other fans upset, but the torrent of grief, anger, desperate hope, denial over this was unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I haven’t seen it since.

Personally, I felt terrible over it. And I spent months wondering why. I felt like a real person died. More than that, I felt like the story changed drastically.

Everyone kept saying it got darker. But that is not strictly true.

No one else important has died since season 3, it’s now season 6. The heroes have won, instead of losing, as they consistently did before. And Ruby has gotten stronger. All in all, the actually story isn’t doing so badly. I’d say it looks worse for the villains, not better.

But despite that, everyone continues to feel uneasy. The fandom and the characters. No one quite trusts the writers anymore.

It was actually the guy who created the series idea to kill Pyrrha. He passed away that same season, and his friends have been carrying on since. Very decent of them–and also the show was too popular for the studio to drop.

They seem to be trying hard to make a good story.

I can’t blame them for what happened, though plenty of people do. It’s a puzzle.

Well, I moved back from RWBY for awhile, and got into MHA. But I still like RWBY, and I still wondered why it was different. Some shows don’t drastically change after a character dies. The tone remains the same. Some do. What was the difference?

It, I decided, is actually because there’s an element of story telling that certain characters tend to embody. Especially on an action packed show.

That element is Wisdom.

Pyrrha Nikos was a very loving person, that’s why people adored her. But I liked her also for her wisdom. She was the only character who seemed to have any sense of how to solve problems. As time went on, the mentor characters on RWBY were all shown to not really know what they were doing. One is even a liar. We all expected it, but the immediate feeling we got was that the characters are now lost.

They are directionless. They don’t know what to do, why to do it, or how. They are guessing. Going on instinct.

Their hearts are in the right place.

I used to think that was enough.

But it hit me that in stories, just as in real life, you have to have wisdom, not just good intentions. Wisdom tells you how to direct your intentions.

Pyrrha was this for RWBY. She was, actually, the only character on it who had peace enough to make her own choices. She guided other characters.

Her death changed a lot. No one knew where the show or the characters were going anymore.

It seemed like just outrage. But three seasons later, we see the same lack of assurance. Even in the characters. They are not bad, they are just wandering, uncertain.

The writing feels the same. Good, but hesitant.

There are some characters that just inspire writers, they guide them. I have them in my stories too. The character keeps me on track. Some stories have more than one, and those are the best.

RWBY had only one, and she died.

There is hope for RWBY, but the damage is real.

I think it hurts a story to lose its wisdom. The effect is that all the bad things in the story just beat up the protagonists, and there is no way to process them. To make sense of it so that you can keep going.

Dark and gritty stories are that way because they lack wisdom.

Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no vision the people perish,

but blessed is he who keeps the law.”

 

Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

To tell a story is always to tell someone your view of the world, even if by accident. It’s clear, hearing some stories, that the person telling them missed the point of their own story.

I am not accusing RWBY of this, rather, I do not think it knows what its point is.

I’ve seen other shows and series do it worse. At least it has some ideas, if nothing else.

But this is why I think it changed. And why MHA is different, that show has an amazing amount of wisdom. I am not used to shows saying things I have not even thought of myself. (Sorry, I think I think things through more than a lot of writers.)

But, I think if I hadn’t seen RWBY first, I would not have thought of it. I’m glad I watched both so close together.

Well, I hope you got something out of this, until next time–Natasha.

Check out some of my fiction writing on Kindle!

 

Thoughts on the RWBY team members.

Some of you older followers know me and how I get with show characters. I just can’t help myself, I have to delve into them. A year or two ago I did a post about characters from Ever After High and what I learned form them, I thought it might be fun to do the same thing with RWBY. Even if you don’t watch it (and I recommend it but do not read the comment section.) The show is rife with interesting life lessons.

Now, though I like most of the characters, I don’t get as much out of all of them. The thing that makes RWBY different form Ever After High (there are similar stylistic choices) is that Ever After High was very much character driven, the character’s individual perspectives were the main source of conflict. Which was great, and I have no complaints about shows like that. But RWBY is a different kind of show. It’s story-plot driven. The characters become more clear with plot development. Which means you love them more the longer you watch.

A lot of the lessons aren’t really spoken so much as implied. One would be the importance of forgiveness. Over seasons 4 and 5 especially, Yang, one of the main four, deals with bitterness toward her mom as well as her teammate Blake for abandoning her, in the end she realizes she needs to forgive Blake, and at least come to terms with how her mom is. At no point does anyone directly tell her to do this, but her sister and her friend both say different things that change her perspective, plus she learns a lot on her own.

That’s as good a theme as any to start with. The point of Yang’s arc, and Blake’s in some ways, is that forgiveness is not something people deserve, and it’s not something they can earn. Some fans have complained that Blake was forgiven way too easily, but they miss the whole point. You can never deserve forgiveness, so either it is given, or it isn’t. Yang could have waited, but it wouldn’t have changed what happened, it would have only dragged it out. I’m glad she saw that.

Blake has a hard time forgiving herself. I related to her a lot in season 4 when she talked about being tired of people getting hurt because of her. Girls especially tend to feel this way, though I’m sure boys can too, but that feeling that we bring more trouble than we’re worth. Blake’s checkered past of working with a terrorist cult (Before realizing what she was in) makes her pretty insecure about whether or not she’s really able to help people.It seems like she gets them hurt more than she saves them. There’s a very cool song “Like Morning Follows Night” that’s between her and Sun, her boy friend that illustrates what she feels and what his response is is that it hurts people more to be pushed away than it does to risk themselves for her. Blake slowly starts letting herself get helped.

Then there’s Weiss, another member of the main team. Her story is more complex than most of theirs. She is out of place in her family. As cliche as that sounds, believe me if you watch it, it’s real. I felt uncomfortable around her family as a viewer, something about them was creepy. Both Weiss and her older sister realized they needed to get away from their parents, their father especially. I normally find that story line annoying, because it’s just not justified, but in this case their dad really is evil and I can’t blame them at all. Aside from that theme, there’s an interesting side theme that children aren’t guilty for what their parents have done and shouldn’t be made to pay for it. Plus a good old crack at how the rich and indolent can live such empty lives. Which is well worn, but in this case fits.

Ruby, the team leader, was not my favorite. I liked her but she’s more young and quirky than I tend to favor. Over time I came to appreciate her though, she gives her teammates and friends some great advice. Telling Jaune, another team leader, that he’s not allowed to be a failure now that he has  a team to lead. It’s an important moment because everyone, even the fans, thinks he’s already failing and that’s kind of hard to help without him getting a serious upgrade. But Ruby turned it around to show that leadership can be entrusted to us whether we like it or not, and yet it’s still our responsibility to be the best we can.  Ruby inspires that in all the other characters.

And then there’s the other main team, JNPR (pronounced “juniper”) Aiiiy. SPOILERS!

download (3)

Seriously, I don’t know if I can bring myself to talk about it just yet. Suffice it to say they have some of the most emotionally wrecking arcs of the show.

But before and after and during that they have some of the best development.

All of them are introduced as a little quirky and unusual, and Jaune the leader, is shown to not be a very good fighter. Yet over time we see what makes them exceptional.

Jaune, though he lacks confidence, proves to be fiercely loyal to his friends and devoted to his team. Though he gets bullied and has issues with admitting he needs help, he eventually stands o]up to the bully for the sake of his team and then learns to accept help. He expresses his frustration at always feeling like the damsel in distress. Even as of season 5 he’s still the weakest fighter, but that isn’t really the point. There’s more to strength than being powerful, and there’s more to being a hero than strength. In fact what Jaune’s teammate Pyrrha shows him is that being a hero to someone is a lot more about believing in them and being there when they need help then it is about being able to kick rear. Thought that’s always fun to watch.

Ah Pyrrha, my favorite. I just love her, I can’t help it. No one can, I’ve yet to read a bad word about her.

Pyrrha was from the start easily the kindest character on the show. She and Jaune are alike in that they see someone in need and the aren’t shy about helping them. Pyrrha usually makes it look way cooler, but hey, if you can, why not?

Pyrrha’s theme ended up being about love. Something that I pinned down about her early on was that love wasn’t just something she did, it was who she was. Pyrrha is never seen doing anything mean or selfish. She inspires without trying to. Really you have to see it to understand, but you can’t watch any scene with her in it without thinking “Wow, she’s just so…nice, but like, she means it. How does she do that?”

Nora and Ren are the last two members of the team, and they’re a package deal. They balance each other out. Nora is peppy and a little crazy, but shows she is emotionally intelligent over time. Giving both Ren and Pyrrha advice that tells us she pays attention to what people are feeling. Ren is the opposite of Nora as far as personality goes and sees uncomfortable with emotions. Which is explained later, his theme ends up being getting closer and not letting anger make you do foolish and reckless things. Facing your demons and so on.

There’s even more, but this is long enough for one post. Until next time–Natasha.

The Resurrection Arc.

Hey fiction buffs! You’ve heard of character arcs before, but did you know there’s different kinds?

Yeah, probably if you read or watch any TV show that’s fictional, you knew that. I’m simply being dramatic.

You might know of arcs (and for you non-buffs, an arc is how a character or plot develops from one point, usually an immature one, to another, usually a better, wiser one. Typically the arc is what shows us the point of the whole story, but there are negative arcs that show one good guy turning bad, or a good guy slowly giving up on their cause. These are the bad example arcs that are meant to be a warning.) But have you heard of a Resurrection Arc?

Most arcs follow a pattern and this one does too. It’s actually pretty widely used, but since it is often misused, and people are now knocking it, I thought I’d write a defense of it.

All arcs are meant to change the characters and show them something they did not see before. Some arcs are a part of the plot and the characters learn by dealing with the challenges of that part. That’s what category I put a resurrection arc into.

A lot of things kick off arcs. The most famous is getting a challenge like being chosen for something, or the sadder common catalyst is a character losing someone close to them. Sometimes just witnessing a tragedy is enough to do it, other times the character has to lose their soulmate for their arc to begin.

However, there’s another really cool thing that kicks of some arcs. And it’s a resurrection. A resurrection can happen one of two ways. Either it’s a character literally coming back from the dead, or from being almost dead, or they just thought they were and it turns out they weren’t; or something else can be restored to a character that they felt they lost. In fiction especially this can mean a gift or power, or it can mean a belief in something they had lost faith in. It’s popular now for a memory to also be something that helps a character in this way.

In older stories resurrection is often just straight up someone’s coming back to life. This theme appears in fairy tales way more that we realize. Often it’s intertwined with redemption. Many of Anderson’s lesser known stories involve resurrection, and even his most famous ones that have had those elements removed in the retelling.

In modern fiction Death has an oddly compelling presence. Take “The Fault in Our Stars,” or almost any dystopia fiction now. Death is everywhere, often very young people are obsessed with it. (Funny that it’s often older people writing this stuff.) I always loved life, I was happy when nobody died. I considered “The Lion King” a sad movie, (and that part still is.) But of course, Mufasa isn’t really gone, and that can be part of a resurrection arc. Realizing that death isn’t so powerful. It’s why you won’t see this arc in the death-shadowed stories I just mentioned, unless it’s in some twisted, unholy way. Frankenstein’s monster is no example of resurrection, just to be clear.

Life wins out in the end, and love. That’s the message of resurrection arcs in a nutshell. But the complaint, which I’m sick of hearing, is that they don’t create lasting stakes.

Since the Avengers franchise took off, fans have been growing dissatisfied with happy, everyone’s alive, stories (like they don’t all hate it when their friendly neighborhood Spiderman gets knocked off, please.) While I find the constant whining about it to be stupid, I do note that there’s something to be said for making things a bit more realistic.

It’s not that no one dies that really bugs me, it’s that no one gets hurt for very long, no one loses anything in their lives, and no one seems to be affected for longer than two films by any traumatic experience. Also I fail to see character growth even when they are.

In truth, whether characters live or die has nothing to do with depth. Action flicks that kill off henchmen by the dozens aren’t known for being deep. And Chick flicks that don’t kill anyone, or else do it in a more drawn out, romantic way, aren’t necessarily shallow. The Notebook is dumb for most of the movie, but the ending always gets to me because it is saying something profound about love.

That said, I think people who knock resurrection arcs are missing their potential. It’s not always a cheap cop-out to have a character not stay dead. In fact, often it’s a very good catalyst for growth in both them, and everyone else.

When a characters is resurrected, everyone has to reconsider what life and death means to them. They have to ask themselves what they are willing to sacrifice, and what they aren’t. But most of all, it changes the dynamics of how they see the antagonists. Maybe there are things more powerful than whatever the evil stands for.

As for the character who comes back themselves, they get a chance to change things about their lives that maybe only losing them gave them the clarity to do. Or they impart some wisdom on the other characters that they couldn’t before. Resurrection means restoration.

If we no longer like that, it is because we have grown more hopeless. It’s more cool now to just accept the crap in you life and deal with it, then it is to hope for a change. People encourage you to give up on hoping for others to change, for things to turn around. Be the force, they say. Well, that’s fine in its place. But what about when your force isn’t enough?

What about when all the kick-rear skills in the world won’t save you? What about when you’re losing heart and nothing else will help? What about when someone simply can’t save themselves?

Resurrection is what solves this, and nothing else can. It’s a restoring of life and hope and faith to someone who had lost heart. It’s the only thing that makes redemption fully possible. Because though a death may redeem someone, it only sticks if life comes out of it.

Resurrection, in the end, is what breeds humility. What engraves the inevitability of our own need for someone to intervene on our behalf into our souls. By overcoming mortality, it reminds us of it.

It’s not cheap. It’s often the hardest thing to do well.

I for one will never get tired of this arc, until next time–Natasha.