STILL haven’t heard from ship_manifesto, but let’s take a look at my reading list for the winter break, shall we?
The Mommy Wars: Stay At Home Moms and Career Moms Face Off
No Two Alike (behavioral psychologists vs developmental ones)
The Kindergarten Wars (Rich Americans compete to get their kids in the best schools)
Polarization must fascinate me. Wouldn’t it be awesome to write The Ship Wars and have it appear at a bookstore near you soon?
I’m afraid I no longer have the detachment to write about fandom. Maybe in five years. Maybe in ten. What started out as a simple journal entry for this comm—no more than a post that took a couple hours—has turned into something that’s made me question the essential nature of the human fan once more. Someone asked me to submit the essay to shipmanifesto; I rewrote it and begged the mods there to read it and decide if it was too much of a pot-stirring , wank-inciting piece of barely repressed, highly disguised hostility (well, I didn’t say that last part—but I do wonder if shipper rage has its origins in one’s family and personal relationships). Just talking about the essay may have already damaged some friendships and a great deal of my peace of mind, so there’s no chance in hell the essay is going to see the light of day except here… It’s EBIL.
If I were of sound body and mind (erk, my meds are making forget things—such as what paragraphs I just wrote—NOT good for a writer), I might say BRING IT ON. Not for the sake of defending my ship. That part of ship wars is not what people end up fighting about, you notice? It’s always about the subtext, tone of argument, style of rhetoric. It's about this or that person believing that if one disagrees with him, that constitutes emotional assault.
Then there’s always the anonymous “You suk.”
The less hostile, better-spelled responses would eat up my brain, I think, but I know I could enjoy defining the difference between interpretation and perspective for some dumb asses. Or pulling my husband over to the computer (he teaches logic! You know what it’s like to argue with a man who teaches logic? Ha! I win sometimes) to blow over even the most well-written responses. I myself could make a creative game out of answering those age-old questions made by students of LIT-ER-ACHURE.
How can you presume to know the mind of an author? D’oh. I don’t know, but of course I can presume. It’s called literary criticism. And with that big ole term, let’s turn to Bleach.
How do we know what’s going to happen next in Bleach? We don’t. If the work of art were dada or postmodern, we would have less of a chance of predicting the next chapter. Because Bleach is formulaic, we know lots of things:
1) Bad guys will not triumph in the end
2) Ichigo will not die and will triumph in the end
3) There will be battles
4) There will be ecchi innuendo and drawings of boobs
5) And there will NOT be overt romance—if a resolution of any of the ships occurs at the end, I highly doubt that it will be more than implied (poetically, of course, because Kubo is a poetic manga-ka)
One can presume to predict certain events (or pairings) because of two things.
1) The way the author has displayed his style for the past five years
2) The fact that the manga is published in Jump
Some things in Bleach have more of a chance of happening than other things. Because Bleach is SHOUNEN manga, there’s not going to be the sort of violence that you see in, say, Beserk. There are not going to be boys falling love with one another (oh Kubo, you fan-servicer you, you give the boys their lesbian innuendo and are a little dry on the fun stuff for the yaoi fangurls). Unless there is an extreme effort made in the plot for the next five years, Keigo is NOT going to marry Nemu. All interpretations are equal, my ass. The next time I hear “all opinions are valid,” I’m going to slit my wrists. (Where did kids pick this one up? Not on the streets, where one picks up all the best things and probably in a classroom).
One of the most identifiable characteristics of manga is the cliff-hanger. Every chapter is supposed to surprise us, but tell me--how far off are the surprises within the field of all possible events? Only characters whom we’ve seen very little of (sexy librarian Aizen) can pull believable turnarounds in character (hot overlord Aizen). Even Isshin did not change anything but his presumed occupation. Can you imagine Renji suddenly falling to Yamamoto’s feet and declaring his love? Characters that have been developed for as long as these characters have been are going to act in a fairly predictable way. That's not to say that the characters won’t do weird things—it’s human nature to be inconsistent, and since Kubo knows human nature (how do I know this? I read the manga), the future events in Bleach will emphasize how characters grow—in subtle and meaningful ways.
That said, it’s going to be DIFFICULT for my favorite ship (IshiHime) to happen. The IshiHime I know is a friend relationship with strong clues of an Ishida crush. In conventional literature of course, a crush is going to have an outcome—it’s like that gun on the wall in the play. That gun is going to be used. Orihime’s crush will have an outcome—a strongly implied one for better or worse. Ishida’s will too. And who knows… maybe Ikkaku and Keigo’s sister might get it on before the manga is finished.
I find myself nodding at most of the predictions you guys made in my Spectacular Crystal Ball Contest. Some things in Bleach we just know. We knew Ichigo was not going to die after Kenpachi speared him. We knew Ishida was going to get his powers back. We knew Rukia would be saved. The surprises are really in the details—like, who could’ve predicted that those things on Ishida’s belt made a god-frickin SWORD? Or that Nell and Pesh would have super-powerful spit?
Having only glimpsed the tip of the ship iceberg in the Potter fandom, I’ve found essays saying JKR’s last book didn’t develop her characters according to how she had originally introduced them. There was a lot of hemming and hawing among shippers who refused to buy the canon story. To fans like these, I say “Come to the light, there is peace in the light, you will feel better in the light, all things are truly possible in the light.”
The light is FANFICTION. Read it, write it. It will make you love the things you love even more.