Archive for March, 2008

Colour illustration from volume 8.

Fanfiction is one of those things which are forevermore shrouded in controversy, at least among fandoms. The arguments for and against are endless, and I don't really want to have to deal with them right now, so we'll just all agree to disagree, or perhaps agree to agree, as the case may be. I'm very agreeable at the moment, largely because agreeing with stuff might make them go away and stop bothering my and my headache.

However, I've noticed that there's at least a significant contingent of people for whom fanfiction is not the Spawn of Slaanesh, and yet it holds no particular attraction of any sort. One of the most common refrains heard is: "I haven't read any fanfics I liked."

Cue the inevitable deluge of fanfic recommendations, of which this post is one. So it goes.

Trying to recommend fanfics to another person is extremely difficult, if only because due to its nature as entertainment, it is subject to personal opinions and tastes, which are, well, personal. Just because I like the idea of, say, crossing over Card Captor Sakura and Star Wars doesn't mean that anyone else would, and it is in these tiny details which readers are converted or cast away.

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To the great disappointment of at least one part of fandom.

So one of the myriad problems I have been facing for the past week or so is what seems to be a persistent illness which bears the symptoms of influenza, except not at the same time. In fact, I seem to be getting about a third to half of them at any one time: runny nose, aching muscles, fever, general feelings of discomfort, so on and so forth. I have yet to have all these strike me at once, which may or may not be considered small blessings.

The net result of this is that I have not been able to get much restful sleep. Yes, I know, world's smallest stringed instrument and all that. However, it has interfered with my usual plans for posting anything other than Random Pictures, of which I keep forgetting if I have posted them before. And so, I'm going to try seeing if I can post as a more stream-of-consciousness deal for a while.

This means that I will probably not be posting anything of actual interest for a while, at least until I get several nights' worth of sleep. (Or days. It's the usual geek lament of not keeping sane hours.) You may interpret that as you wish.

Anyway. My continuing obsession with the gender-swap project as applied to The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has not abated. It has, however, as with organisms under tremendous stress, mutated.

I should probably explain the situation as it stands in the AnimeSuki thread at the moment, although I must warn all interested parties that said situation is very fluid, and what may be the Truth now may not be the Truth when I wake up tomorrow, and it may well be a small rubber duck instead. (Or something.) To recap no, there is too much; to summarize, we have Suzumiya Haruki no Seitenkan, which translates more or less to "The Genderbending of Haruki Suzumiya" ("Haruki" is not a typo, and is indeed the name of the male version of Haruhi, achieved by thread consensus), and it is the Main Project towards which our efforts are bent, aha.

And then, rising from the murks of What If, we now also have something tentatively labelled Suzumiya Haruhi no Tsuji, which allegedly translates into "The Crossroads of Haruhi Suzumiya".

The premise of SHnT (which I am choosing for the convenient acronym, since it looks better than CoHS, which reminds me too much of my MMORPG of choice) is that due to some uncertain cause, possibly quantum, the setting involves the canon characters, and their genderswapped twins. In other words, imagine a SOS Brigade headed by both Haruhi and Haruki Suzumiya, countered by the Dual Snark Action of Kyon and Kyonko.

Since doubling the world's population would be out of the question, the thread's consensus appears to be to leave most of the characters as their canon gender, and twin the characters who have received an image song CD of their own, plus Taniguchi and Kunikida, presumably for being themselves. This works out to be eleven extra characters to work in, which is no mean task.

Opinions are split on whether the SOS Brigade are aware that This Should Not Be, and how both Kyons will handle the realization that they are now kinda-sorta siblings, except much more complicated. An especially vocal contingent wishes to turn this into the script for a H-manga, whereby the solution to the problem of colliding worlds is for the Kyons to do the dirty.

It's porn. It doesn't have to make sense.

Since the SHnT project is somewhat splintered at the moment, I'm considering taking up the banner of what has been called the GuruGuruMawaru faction, after the lyrics for the opening theme of the first season of School Rumble, which takes love polygons to relatively absurd levels that nevertheless make some variety of sense if you start from the very beginning. This will be decidedly non-H, and the premise is that everyone has been twins from the beginning (whether this is Haruhi-influenced is undecided, but the important thing is that Kyon and Kyonko are unaware of this), although it will probably be rather confusing, if only for the huge cast of characters.

I'm in the middle of a draft of such a story even now. Kyonko takes the role of the viewpoint character, if only because, freed from the constraints of sticking so closely to the text of the original novels, I can let loose my impression of what a snarky female narrator might be. It will not be a pleasant experience for the targets of her barbs.

We have descended deep into the pits of fanfictional fantasy, and only time will tell whether any of us will be able to claw our way back out, changed by our experiences, in whatever direction.

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I think this is Dieci.

I find it somewhat darkly amusing that I have yet to find a plausible in-fiction explanation for all those moons, or planetoids, or something in the skies of Midchilda, that does not eventually boil down to "it's MAGIC".

Over at TVTropes it's mentioned under Alien Sky, which notes the improbability of this arrangement, as well as suggesting that it is done for the sake of looking cool. The AnimeSuki thread, a dark lair in which the back and forth of spirited debate has mutated into an unholy writhing mass of personal attacks, and for which such matters are destined, hemmed and hawed over the problem for a few pages, before finally utilizing the Gordian solution with the proclamation that it is, indeed, workable only by magic.

The final verdict, I believe, is "moons made entirely of liquid mana". Which end up somehow projecting themselves, or perhaps alternate dimension variants of themselve, or even alternate dimension variants of the planet they revolve around, several times over. Judging from visual evidence, we may find at least six such globes in the sky at any given moment, each one possessing what seems like an atmosphere of its very own.

Later, we are told that Midchilda has two moons in its orbit, each tracing an elliptical path that enables a sort of mystical concordance Just In Time for the events in the show to unfold in the most dramatic manner. Perhaps there are more heavenly bodies that the projection removed from the screen, for ease of significance; we may never know.

It is truly a world of magic, where the laws of gravity and astrophysics are rather more like guidelines. Of such things do we fanfiction writers have to grapple.

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You may or may not be able to see this picture.

I've been meaning to get around to doing this for some time, but actually following through took until today.

GreyDuck posted a long time ago about a Livejournal Crossposter plugin for WordPress, which would in theory allow me to have my posts here doubled on my Livejournal, which has, despite my conscious best efforts, withered into a dwindling stub of its former glory. Now, indeed, you may have twice of me, though I may not be half the man I used to be.

Or something.

This being a Test Post, I must explore the outer edges of what is allowed, and what might send me spiralling, howling in black despair, into the nether pits of the Data Vampires which inhabit the spaces between the Series Of Tubes, waiting for the next unwary userly morsel to stray into their range. The boundaries are unclear, but to trespass would be folly of the highest order, sending the unfortunate lost to the void forevermore.

I have no clue how the images in this post will turn up. On the one hand, I have a fairly standard maximum width of 500 pixels, and it is good form to define the image attributes. On the other hand, as far as I know, Animeblogger does not, by default, allow hotlinking of images, and I am not certain that I want to or am allowed to change this, which may lead to my Livejournal friendslist witnessing a Large Blank Space staring at them in an embarrassed manner, not quite able to explain oneself about what one is supposed to do in this instance of Internet faux pas. If it does not work out, then I shall have to think of something, although turning off the plugin would probably be a good start.

I have set the "More" tag to lead back to this post on Moe Check, rather than an LJ-cut on my Livejournal, as is also an option, since I believe that if the images Do Not Work and the reader has to click anyway, I may as well make them click on a link which provides the full experience unsullied by blank expanses of nothingness where pictures are meant to be. In addition, this might also help for the image-heavy posts, such as the Nanoha GamerS comic abominations. Now, in order to do this, I have to be able to fill up enough space to warrant the use of the "More" tag in the first place. I mean, I could Lorem Ipsum my way through a couple of thousand words, but that would be cheating. And boring. I don't mind cheating, but being boring is unforgivable.

So what should I talk about this time? Well, since I am currently occupied with fanfiction, it might not fall amiss to ramble on about something absolutely nobody cares about. It may not be as pretty as a Lorem Ipsum, but at least it'll be of vague interest to me.

Although to call Suzumiya Haruhi no Seitenkan a "fanfic" is probably somewhat inaccurate, I admit. (Warning: spoilers for the novels follow.)

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This entry is part 5 of 43 in the series Nanoha GamerS

Just a teaser image.

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This entry is part 19 of 20 in the series CCS Episode Summaries

Title Screenshot

I must state for the record that I did not, in fact, want to do this episode summary, entirely because I am still not quite in the mood for it. However, since I have no other ideas about what to do for my twice-a-week quota, I may as well, in the vernacular, suck it up. This post shall stand as an example of what an episode summary looks like when I am less than willing to produce one.

Somewhat appropriately, the subject of Card Captor Sakura episode 19, "Sakura and the Summer Holiday Homework", deals with the results of procrascination. It also appears to be drawn by the B-team of animators, and all in all, is not one of the better episodes. It does introduce a certain character in the last five minutes, though, so at least there's something to look forward to.

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Kyon will always be Kyon.

I've been bitten by the fanfiction bug, again.

This isn't to say that I'm abandoning all my other stories, but like my habit of starting new characters in City of Heroes without first attending to the level grinding of older ones (a habit known among CoH players, and probably MMORPG players in general, as "altitis"), I shall be juggling multiple self-imposed responsibilities in the service of my hobbies, in much the same way I will move mountains for that which I find interesting, but will recoil away from anything remotely resembling actual work.

Shin of Atarashii Prelude has made posts on this phenomenon here, here, and here, if you wish to find out more. I have inadvertantly ramped up my participation in the associated AnimeSuki thread, which has taken on the self-appointed task of establishing what appears to be an unofficial Official Fanon, at least with regards to the AnimeSuki community, if not wider. I have no official place or title in this New Order, but I spam my input anyway, because the Muse is a chronic workaholic.

For those who are inveterately lazy, I welcome you as fellow slackers, and provide a brief summary of the concept: switch the genders of the characters in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. Explore the possibilities.

My interest in this endeavour is manifold, and I should admit in the interests of full disclosure that not all of the reasons are entirely wholesome. The general impression of Female Kyon, who has apparently gained a fandom nickname of "Kyonko" (there's a whole list of fandom nicknames for the genderswapped counterparts, as well as alternates due to this being fandom), is that of a short ponytailed snarky girl. Someone described her as "aww… tiny little cute sarcastic person", and I keep that description close to my fanboy heart, if only because it is reinforced by the fanart (mostly worksafe) of exactly that.

But I've always identified more easily with Itsuki, and in keeping with the "more good-looking than thou" motif, Female Itsuki provides the eye-candy. (If you're wondering, Female Itsuki's Japanese fandom name is Itsuki-with-different-kanji, while her English fandom name is Itsuko. I tried to push for "Mitsuki" a bit half-heartedly, but it didn't stick.)

On a more rarefied level above the cries of "squeee cute", I've always been fascinated by switching gender roles in stories. And I do mean "gender roles", using the slightly more sociological definition, rather than simply changing the Y chromosome to X and vice versa. If I change the characters from male to female, and vice versa, what would the effects be on both their fictional environment and the consumers of that fiction?

Almost by necessity, the large-scale "everyone changes" projects are the domain of fanfiction. There are several stories out there with a single character, or perhaps a very small group of them, who change genders, but everyone else remains the same. Whether or not gender roles are explored in the first place, and how far they go if so, varies greatly. In Ranma 1/2, Ranma's experiences with cold water are often played up for comedy, or occasionally as an aspect of battle. In Kashimashi, Hazumu's alien-induced sex change focuses on the romantic angle, and takes a back seat to the love triangle which forms (with all three participants being female).

In those cases, the plot is that the character used to be Male, and now he's Female. (Or vice versa, but I'll use Male-to-Female as a convenient example.) The main characters know that the Female used to be Male. The story, if it bothers to, could revolve around how the former Male now comes to terms with being Female, and how the other characters react with the Female That Is when they're used to the Male That Was.

And then there's the other approach, which is that the character has always been Female, and how this would make the story inherently different from the canon Male version. Expand it, and now everyone is genderswapped; how does this change things? Alter the initial conditions, and watch how the experiment progresses.

To take the MoHS example, we have Haruhi Suzumiya, loud and brash. Now convert her to one Haruki Suzumiya (the Japanese fandom appears to prefer the name "Haruhiko", as in "Haru-hiko" rather than "Haruhi-ko"), and consider what reactions to this person would be like. Would he be seen as a delinquent? Would he be called a "loudmouthed nutjob" to his face? In fact, how different would he be, when he gets going, from the stereotypical loud-and-brash shounen protagonist made of GUTS and COURAGE?

What of Mikuru Asahina, now converted into a shy wide-eyed boy named Mitsuru Asahina? Opinions appear divided about whether he's still supposed to wear the bunnygirl outfit, even after the change. Is he to crossdress (the costumes forced on him by Haruki, of course)? Would he be wearing a maid outfit, or a butler outfit? Would The Adventures of Asahina Mitsuru Episode 00 be focused on the travails of a time-travelling combat butler?

Such considerations can occupy us happily for weeks. The genderswapped versions of the girls into bishounen appears to have a surprisingly high acceptance rate among the male portion of the fandom, and the guys-into-girls of Itsuki and Kyon have garnered approval from the female portion. Apparently the appeal of Altered Interactions is enough to overpower the mere lure of fanservice.

I will have to admit that when writing out the first-person narrative of Kyonko, I have drawn heavily on my experiences in female-dominated fandom communities. After Fandom Wank and Television Without Pity, neither of which I have participated in but both of which I have delved deeply into, I have no illusions on women being any more "gentle" than men. I have ramped up the snark and sarcasm level, and may Haruhi have mercy on my ficwriting soul.

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This entry is part 4 of 43 in the series Nanoha GamerS

Just a teaser image.

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This entry is part 3 of 43 in the series Nanoha GamerS

Just a teaser image.

Yes, I've decided to start numbering these. Let's see how far I go before I lose interest.

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Not a real comic.

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