Monthly Archives: June 2010

FMA’s Riza Hawkeye = In Plain Sight’s Mary Shannon?

Aside from watching and reading anime and manga, I watch regular TV shows, too, including In Plain Sight. The more I watch IPS, the more I see parallels between the show’s main character, Mary Shannon, and Fullmetal Alchemist‘s Riza Hawkeye.

1) Riza had a jacked-up relationship with her father. So did Mary. And those experiences greatly inform their adult lives and the decisions they make.

2) Riza has an extremely strong bond with Roy. She’s definitely a ride-or-die chick. While Mary was in a relationship (engaged even), I’d argue that Raph was her beard because she didn’t truly love him, but Marshall? She’d die for him and vice versa.

3) Maes Hughes is an annoying older brother type for Riza and Roy. Stan McQueen kind of fills the same role for Mary and Marshall.

4) Roy and Marshall are arrogant, and Riza and Mary do a bang-up job of keeping their egos in check.

Any others?


Fan Fiction Friday!!!

When I was a kid, my grandmother had this saying that I’ve taken to repeating in my adult years: “If ‘if’s were fifths, we’d all be drunk.” The meaning is simple—everyone hypothesizes about everything and you can do it until you’re blue in the face, but it won’t necessarily change any outcomes. (Grandma also used to say, “If a bullfrog had wings, it wouldn’t bump its ass on the ground when it hopped.” Never quite caught the meaning behind that one, but I digress.)

Frankly, I like hypothesizing. Some of the best fan fiction stories take canon and  diverge from it either partially or completely at some crucial point in the narrative. Take Shtuff’s Shards of the Heart, for instance. Obito doesn’t die during the Third Shinobi War; he and rest of Team Minato are captured by rock nin instead. As a result, they’re beaten to a bloody pulp. (Oh, and Kakashi? Their captors blind him. Yes, blind as in he can no longer see. Ugh, it’s hard to take, especially if you’re a Kakashi fan, but man, does it make for a compelling story.) One could argue that being tortured by your enemy and left for dead is a fate worse than actual death. The psychological “deaths” Obito, Rin, and Kakashi suffer only to come out on the other side stronger and wiser makes this story about heartbreak and struggle, and ultimately, redemption.

Rated T. Grade: A.


Hunger Hurts but Starving Works, Part 2: Hinata

Oh, Hinata. Poor little mousy, weak Hinata. She annoys me (she’s always annoyed me…spineless female characters tend to do that), but I’m penning this post in honor of her impending pwnage. A while back, I said that Hinata should get her own post when it comes to emotional starvation. She’s just that wrecked. Her family isn’t at all supportive of her occupation and that definitely helps fuel her attraction to Naruto. He’s relentless in his quest for acceptance, not simply willing to wait around for it to be given to him, but staking his claim and trying to take it when he can. This gave her the strength to stand up to Neji.

While Hinata’s painfully shy and totally in love with him, part of me wonders if she’s attracted to him because he’s completely oblivious to her needs. The girl faints when she sees him, but he’s a lunkhead teenage boy who doesn’t pick up on the clues as to what that means. When it comes to telling him how she truly feels, Hinata has been the flip side of Naruto throughout the series in many respects—she gives up before she even starts. It takes him nearly getting captured by Pain to propel her to confront her feelings, but more than 60 chapters later, neither she nor the fangirls who ship NaruHina have gotten the closure they need. *sigh*


Anime/Manga and the Nature of Fanaticism

I’m not surprising anyone when I say that a lot of anime and manga fans are hardcore…really, really hardcore. I call anyone who would trek halfway across the country to get an autograph from his/her favorite voice actor or make and wear a homemade costume of his/her favorite character a fanatic. But what’s the difference between that and, say, someone who’s crazy about football, basketball, baseball, or soccer to the point of rioting? (*cough* World Cup *cough*) Why do we create a hierarchy when it comes to fanaticism?

“Activities that are engaged in by the majority of people tend to get mass approval compared to those that are niche activities,” says Dr. Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University. He notes that he’s “never operationally defined fanaticism,” but that it’s “basically the extreme liking of something (e.g., pop group, soccer team, stamp collecting, etc).”

In two case studies on online gamers who both played up to 14 hours a day, Griffiths found that one was addicted and the other was not. Why? Because the addicted one’s game playing had an adverse effect on his entire life. “The difference between healthy enthusiasms and addictions are that healthy enthusiasms (i.e., most fanatical activities) add to life whereas addictions take away from it,” he says.

In a July 2009 article in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction on those case studies, Griffiths lays out the criteria for addiction: salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, conflict, and relapse. (He reiterated this in a blog post on soccer fanaticism a couple of months ago.) Interesting stuff. These could certainly be applied to almost anything, including anime and manga, no? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. I’m still pretty new at fangirling, but I work hard to maintain that delicate balance between my professional side and my “ship squee glomp” side. What do you do to maintain your balance?


Fan Fiction Friday!!!

OK, so as I’ve said before, I’m shipping Roy/Riza nonstop right now. They’re almost threatening to overtake Kakashi/Sakura as my OTP (*gasp* almost…not quite), but unfortunately, Fullmetal Alchemist fan fiction writers just aren’t as good as Naruto fan fiction writers. That’s why I love it when I come across something like “PTSD” by Aran’sApprentice-Meahow. In it, Roy is the Fuhrer and while Riza is no longer in the military, she still acting as his unofficial bodyguard in addition to being his significant other. It’s a one-shot and although I prefer longer fics, this manages to pack a pretty powerful punch. It’s full of detail that speaks volumes about what they’ve been through without forcefully referencing the manga (“When she sees a shadow cross the street behind him she breaks out into a cold sweat” clearly refers to her run-in with Pride). Little phrases like “the distance between them snaps shut” and “sending her vision red with shock” play on the tension in their relationship. but overall, “PTSD” gives readers a sense of how Roy and Riza comfort one another in ways that only they can truly understand.

Rated M. Grade: B.


Artist of the Month: int eighty of Dual Core

int eighty, half of the nerdcore hip-hop group Dual Core, is a busy man. The group—with int eighty on the mic and Manchester, UK–based producer c64 on beat duty—has just begun working on its fifth album (which we’re sure will be laced with more rhymes about comic books, Star Wars, and hacker culture, of course). You can check him out front and center on nerdcore pioneer MC Frontalot’s latest release, Zero Day. And this summer, he hits the road for a boatload of performances, including next month’s Anime Expo in Los Angeles. “The music has a feel of east coast and Midwest underground hip-hop from the ’90s,” he says, “but there are plenty of influences used in tweaking the formula.” Is one of those influences anime or manga? We hope so.

Squee!: How did you get into anime and manga?
int eighty: The visuals first drew me in. The vivid designs and colors really impressed me, along with the movements and mannerisms in anime. At that point, I was hooked. The storylines just reeled me in.

Squee!: What’s your all-time favorite anime?
int eighty: Ninja Scroll, it’s the first anime  I ever saw and it will always have a special place in my heart. I remember hearing a few people at school mention it, and happened to see it on the shelf at a store.  It just really caught me by surprise as my initial expectations were along the lines of “just another cartoon.”

Squee!: What’s your all-time favorite manga and why?
int eighty:
Fullmetal Alchemist. The illustrations are awesome, but I absolutely love the storyline. The altruism of the brothers is my favorite part.  Ed wants to be the best alchemist so he can restore Al’s body while Al is working to restore Ed’s arm and leg. Not to mention that they both began their quest into alchemy with the intent of resurrecting their mom who had passed away.  The compassion of the protagonists really stands out in contrast to some of the antagonists who have learned alchemy for evil purposes.

Squee!: What are you reading and watching these days?
int eighty: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and re-watching Cowboy Bebop —I never get tired of that series. The aspect of Spike’s adventures where good fortune is countered by bad luck really appeals to me.  It’s a yin and yang balance of sorts, two steps forward, one step back (or more, in Spike’s case sometimes). Additionally, being a computer hacker by trade, I love that the series has its own computer hacker in Radical Edward.

Squee!: Live-action anime movies: yay or nay?
int eighty:
Nay, overall. Anime just has a certain feel and texture that isn’t reproduced in live-action.

Squee!: Who’s your favorite character (anime or manga)?
int eighty: Jubei from Ninja Scroll. He has an admirable demeanor and the skills to back it up.

Squee!: Do you see any similarities between hip hop and anime/manga? int eighty: I think it’s easy to apply hip hop to a variety of subjects. Our songs cover an interesting range of topics from hacking to video games, sci-fi to Internet memes, etc. Ergo, hip hop inspired by anime and manga is completely tangible. Moving the other direction, one of my favorite anime is Afro Samurai, which as many of your readers know, was scored by the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. So there is definitely crossover between the two domains.

Squee!: If you could pick any anime theme song to rhyme over, which one would it be?
int eighty:
Libera Me From Hell. The beat is ridiculous, we would just need to tweak it a bit and EQ things properly. ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWER!

Check out samples of Dual Core’s music at http://dualcoremusic.com/nerdcore


Hot For Teacher: Shipping KakaSaku

With all of the potential relationships brimming right under the surface in anime and manga, it’s difficult not to have an OTP (one true pair). There are plenty of pairs that could turn into couples based on their interactions in canon if manga creators chose to go that route, but I find most of these pairings lame to the tenth power. Naruto and Hinata? Kinda boring. Ichigo and Inoue? Definitely boring. Naruto and Sakura? Blech. Lee and Sakura? That’s just scary. Sakura and Sasuke? Heeeelllll no. These are far too one-sided to be any good; the partner who wants the relationship the most would most likely bear the brunt of the responsibility for maintaining it.

Side note: On the shipworthiness of Shikamaru and Temari, I think Temari would just browbeat Shikamaru into doing what she wanted and he would go along with it because it would be “too troublesome” to do otherwise. Same would go for Ichigo and Rukia. And Ino and Choji. The only couples that are, as church folk like to say, “equally yoked” are Roy and Riza, and Winry and Ed.

I’m shipping RoyRiza pretty hardcore right now, but for my OTP, I prefer to go completely non-canonical, so it’s Kakashi and Sakura for the win. (By the way, I’m not talking about an underage Sakura. I’m talking about a 21-and-over Sakura. I’m not into Lolita-esque coupling. Gross.) I don’t remember exactly which fanfic got me hooked on KakaSaku, but there are so many things that would make their relationship deliciously complicated and oh so satisfying. The two big ones are:

1) The age difference. Kakashi is/was Sakura’s sensei. Yes, yes, it’s cliche, but it provides so much tension. She’s 14 years his junior so people would assume he’s robbing the cradle. Whether he is varies from fic to fic. Either way, most fan fiction writers exploit the bone of contention a relationship like this would cause among Sakura and Kakashi’s friends and family. Think about how you’ve reacted to a situation like that in real life. Were you supportive of the couple in question? Or did you turn up your nose?

2) Emotional maturity, or lack thereof. The biggest point to consider when shipping KakaSaku is that Kakashi is (and always will be) emotionally unavailable and Sakura is (and always will be) emotionally starved. I’ve talked about this before. I think that Kakashi’s need to protect his comrades could be easily misread when it comes to his female comrades. And Sakura’s urge to heal makes her vulnerable to hooking up with “fixer uppers.”

Why am I talking about relationships that don’t exist in canon? Because I’m a woman and we’re genetically predisposed to talk about relationships? Maybe it has something to do with having a uterus. I don’t know. Discuss.

(Shout out to the ladies over at the KakaSaku Livejournal Community! You rock my world!)