Some thoughts on fandom and shipping

I had an interesting discovery on Twitter the other day, after I posed a question regarding how many anime and manga bloggers were hardcore fans of different series. Not as in ‘I really like this series’, but as in the fandom: fanfics, fanart, music videos, forum debates, and of course shipping.

The discovery was that there really aren’t too many. I’m pretty much a blogger-come-lately when it comes to manga reviews, but I’ve been in anime and manga fandom for 15 years now, and wrote my first fanfics 14 years ago. (No, I won’t give a link. They aren’t exactly hard to find.)

Generally speaking, when I review something, I try to remain fandom-neutral, even when I adore a series. Oh, I’ll occasionally mention that this volume of Negima has some great KonoSetsu moments, but for the most parts these posts are here to a) tell you if I like a manga or not (I generally do), and b) point out bits I found of interest. Fandom is a dangerous thing to have in a general review blog, as it invites strong opinions. Loud strong opinions.

With that introduction in mind, let me mention a couple of my fandom opinions:

1) You can ship a couple – ship them really hard – without ever wanting to see it get anywhere near canon. In fact, you’d hate it if it was canon. Not because ‘they’d ruin it’, necessarily, but because you KNOW it’s not actually a romantic pairing – but you like to play what if. This is where I am with almost every single One Piece pairing I like, for example. I’m with Oda – they’re all in love with Adventure. The only thing I ever want to see canonically in One Piece is Usopp/Kaya. And even then, only in the final chapter. But Luffy/Nami, Luffy/Robin, Franky/Robin, Zoro/Tashigi… sure, I love reading about it or seeing it drawn. But I don’t want or need it in canon.

2) You can ship more than one contrasting couple at the same time, and not be betraying anyone. Let’s take as an example Hayate the Combat Butler. It’s recently had a rather nasty ship-related flamewar going on for months, due to events that the North American Market won’t get for another year or so. I’ve stayed right out of it. Why? Because I like Hayate/Athena. And Hayate/Hinagiku. And Hayate/Ayumu. And yes, even Hayate/Nagi, though you’re hitting the ‘when she grows up’ that one has to throw in. And no, I don’t really want a ‘Hayate gets all the girls in a giant pile o’ sexings’ ending. I just can contain multiple realities in my head at once. It’s not that hard, honest.

3) You will never agree with anyone 100%. Even if (and this is rare) you agree with someone on every single ship in one particular fandom, they will violently disagree with you on some other anime/TV show/children’s book. You can find someone who writes the bestest Ichigo/Orihime fics evar, and you rush off to their Fanfiction.Net profile to see what other fandoms they write, and… wait, they ship Zutara? Noooooo! What are they thinking?!?! Now I hate them forever!

4) It’s not worth getting angry. I get that fandom involves strong emotions. You love your series. You love your characters. And yes, you love your pairing. And sure, I enjoy a good debate… for about 5 minutes. But if you’re in Hour Two of trying to tell me why Naru’s hitting Keitaro is criminal abuse whereas Motoko’s is just her being tsun-tsun… I’m going to walk away. In the end, it’s the thing you love, but it’s a cartoon. Or a comic. Or a TV show. It’s not worth any increase in blood pressure.

5) It’s fun. I wouldn’t have written fanfics on and off for 14 years if I didn’t like thinking up cool things, and getting reactions from fans, and having them inspire more cool things. Sure, there’s lots that I’ve written in the past that I consider to be amateurish or questionable today (hi, Ranma 1/2!), but it’s also introduced me to most of my best friends. Fandom is, in the end, social. In fact, it can be a lot more social than a review blog. I love you all, of course, like brothers; but sometimes I need to just go off and ponder which girl Negi *is* going to end up with once he stops being 10 years old. All great stories inspire the imagination… and fandom is the outlet.

6) It’s also insane and terrifying. I almost typed in a Harry Potter example above till I thought better of it. Phew! Bullet dodged!

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  1. I know you know that I also am Fan" of many series I review. It's never occurred to me that it makes me an oddball among the manga bloggers, but of course, you're right – it does. It's more like the baby bloggers who blog every chapter of every scanlation do – zOMG Mari and Akiko kiss! Sweet! It's also never occurred to me that this is the cause of the on-again-off-again hate stalking I get. Because I allow myself to have an opinion as a FAN, not just as reviewer. So other FANS must tell me how wrong I am. Thank you for clearing that up. It all makes more sense now.My solution has always been to preserve my sanity by being honest right up front about my delusions. Akira and Alicia in Aria – only in my head. And I'm perfectly okay with that. Nonetheless, I review the series with that in my head. You don't agree – oh well. I admitted I made it up, so…Thanks for the perspective. Oh and btw – now it's your turn to write a Hayate x Blade story. I want something with Hitsugi and Akira. NOW.Cheers,EricaHungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu!

  2. It seems like people who have dedicated manga blogs are less likely to be fans in the "active in fandom" sense. I know lots of people on LJ and DW who do manga reviews (myself included, of course) as one aspect of their blog, and those people are often involved in fandom.

  3. “You can ship a couple – ship them really hard – without ever wanting to see it get anywhere near canon. “

    I swear this sounds like a line from Carousel. Intentional, I wonder?


  1. […] last point, Sean, reminds me of something you said in your “thoughts on fandom and shipping,” specifically item two: “You can ship more than one contrasting couple at the same […]

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