Here is the final part of the epic saga where the lovely Irina and I continue to talk about our feelings about shipping.
Before you dive into this discussion piece, though, please stop.
If you haven’t done so already, then please go read the first part of the discussion that can be found over at Irina’s blog first (I’m sorry that I’m posting this several hours after part one was published, by the way. Time zones are a difficult obstacle).
Then come back here, please. Or not. Who am I to tell you how to live your life?
If you’re already read part one and you’re still interested in part two, however, then feel free to carry on.
What are the benefits or what are the costs in regards to shipping?
Remy: What I derive from shipping is a sense of fulfillment.
If I like two characters and if I think there’s some sort of chemistry between them to be explored and if I believe that they can really help each other grow as individuals, then I’ll start passively shipping them. What is most important is that they’re helping each other develop. How can one turn away from a mutually beneficial relationship — wait, never mind, I’m not all that fond of the whole sugar daddy/sugar baby dynamic.
Maybe I’m just starved for love and I receive pleasure from shipping two characters together and hoping they can get together and fall in love / stay as close friends.
Irina: Honest question, why not just fantasize then? As in insert yourself in relationships with those characters instead of remaining an observer. It is your universe after all.
Remy: Ah, but it’s just not the same. I want to see those two fictional characters interact with another. I’m interested in their dynamic. A self-insert character avoids all of that and feels sort of disrespectful (in my opinion) towards the original author’s work since an entirely new character that is definitely not part of the canon is being introduced to satisfy whims and desires.
There’s merit to be found in window shopping. Especially when you’re too broke to buy anything, which is like the real life equivalent to being in real life when your favorite ships are 2-D. Watching and enjoying is just fine!
Irina: See, I’m the exact opposite. I figure that an avatar of me is something that is mine and that I have the right to alter and shape according to my whims. I can imagine how the established characters would react to this new prompt based entirely on their established personalities without having to alter any of the storyline already in place. It should be noted that I respect the internal integrity of stories so I will not break up existing relationships to insert myself, or alter lore.
This is also why I tend to find ships much more interesting if they have some distance from the canon. Taking place some time after the story has ended for instance. Of course, this basically means creating an entire new romantic season of a show and I am way too lazy for that.
At the end of the day, I guess I’m just more of a lush than a voyeur.
How does shipping affect the watching experience (both during and in retrospect)?
Remy: My focus on shipping really does affect my viewing experience, admittedly. I’m keeping my eyes peeled for small instances of ship tease, which can include physical contact, eye contact, being within close proximity of one another on a consistent basis, etc. That might lead to me missing a few key points here or there. Afterwards, I’ll try to remember what I just watched but my memory will just be focused on the ship tease moments. And if I re-watch an episode or a series, I’m sure to jump straight to those ship tease moments.
Irina: I hate feeling like I might have missed something subtle and beautiful that the show creator carefully hid in their work because I was too busy trying to conjure up romance that wasn’t really there. The exercise is distracting and harmful to my immersion. It’s a bit like having a conversation with someone in a restaurant while constantly picturing them suddenly throwing everything off the table and passionately making out with the waiter. No joking though, that sounds like a lot of fun. I’m going to do that next time.
Remy: I don’t think I miss too many things, but I can see how one could get distracted while shipping. As for the existence of romance within a series, it’s usually up to personal interpretation but ultimately the relevancy of romance is more clear-cut. The feelings one character holds for another may define the plot in some instances but otherwise it’s just icing on the cake and the rest of the cake is an ice cream cake that doesn’t really need the icing to be delicious so one can enjoy the series without being a shipper. But I still like the icing anyways.
That’s a hot ship if I do say so myself.
Irina: Wait, is it still shipping if it’s an actual part of the narrative? In that case I ship Celty + Shinra 4ever! They are my ultimate OTP and relationship goal.
Remy: Oh, totally, shipping still counts under such circumstances. It might even be preferable considering that you’ll encounter less people who’d protest against the ship since it’s both official and integral to the narrative (then again, some people will still ship Shinra with Shizuo or with Izaya. You can’t underestimate shippers).I have to agree that the beautiful, explosive relationship between the lady in black and the man in white is amazing, though.
Are there any ships you inherently dislike? Do you have any particular ships you prefer?
Irina: The worst thing for me is coming across an absolutely cringey ship – they’re father and son and he’s really young too!!! – and then having to spend the next week trying to figure out how to launder my brain. I can never see those characters in the same way again.
In less extreme examples, though, I have occasionally dabbled in ships that went nowhere. The experience was frustrating. As soon as I tried to build up a narrative in my head that was a bit more complex, I would run into issues or realize that those characters aren’t together for very good reasons. Alternatively, if their relationship seemed logical and enjoyable, I would get disenchanted with the ones already in the story and consequently enjoy the show just that much less.
And with all this I’ll admit, I did see a pic once that got my mind racing a bit. It was a Maka and Kid pic and I just went – of course! That makes sense and it works. I don’t think it’s at all suggested in the series proper but I wouldn’t be mad at a potential future relationship between those two and I’ll admit it did add a fun little layer to a show I already loved.
Remy: I’m not too against taboo ships as long as it just stays in fiction. Sisters loving sisters or teachers loving students can be okay if done right. But I can only really stomach healthy relationships. Blackmailing is out, mental abuse is inexcusable, domestic violence is unacceptable, etc.
Ah, that happens to me, too. Sometimes the ships I come up don’t seem to make that much sense. Or sometimes they make more sense than the official couples shown in canon. As a result I do enjoy the show slightly less, but it doesn’t overly affect my satisfaction.
Maka with Kid is a ship I can vigorously support. It’s given little backing in canon, but it just works in my mind. Great choice.
I totally ship Fukuji Mihoko with Takei Hisa from Saki. It’s probably my fourth yuri ship ever (the first was the Zero couple from Loveless back when I was in sixth grade, Kawashima Ami x Kushieda Minori in ninth grade, and Miyanaga Saki x Haramura Nodoka from earlier in Saki). The fact that both Hisa and Mihoko are the leaders of their own teams (they can take turns taking the lead but I would reckon Hisa would be the top 19 times out of 20), that they battled against each other back in middle school (rivalry turned into passion), and that Mihoko had Hisa on her mind for years after Hisa abruptly disappeared from the mahjong tournament is already good enough.
But then we have Hisa telling Mihoko, who has heterochromia, that her blue eye is beautiful, wow! Coupled with how Mihoko always becomes a blushing mess around Hisa and we have ourselves a fine battlecruiser, folks. There’s also a scene in the manga where Hisa is remembering all those around her who have encouraged her in the past and present in-between rounds during the mahjong tournament. Guess who’s the only person who gets a double-page spread (and is calling Hisa by her first name when she usually calls her by last name)? There’s also a small scene where we can see Mihoko’s uniform hanging up amongst the uniforms of Kiyosumi High School, which is amazing since it shows that she spent the night there. Nothing is shown on-screen, of course, but that’s when we use our imaginations. What a ship!
Irina: That…sounds pretty hot….
In all honesty, I have nothing against other people shipping. I have come across both fanfic and doujin that were truly beautiful and the authors deserve recognition and applause. It’s just not for me as a creator.
I really didn’t want to end up getting the last word – Remy say something!
Well, that concludes our little discussion. Hopefully you all liked reading our conversation. I also really, really enjoyed working with Irina! Oh, well, I might have whipped up a decent title, but she was the genius behind the topics.
It was my pleasure “working” with you, Irina! To be honest, it hardly felt work since it was so fun! Make sure to check her blog out!