Just read your reply to Chapter 8 of Madoka Magica: Pure Pink Pretty Lovers.
Was curious if you were seriously bothered or not with how Madoka is ending up heterosexual in the Opportunity Choice endings.
With the latest one, at least, I can easily make the drug dealer who dates Madoka into a girl. I made him a guy since, well, when I think of shady drug dealers that seduce girls into doing heavy drugs, I just think "Male" for some reason.
Anyway, thanks for the response! Just so you know, I think that the best Sayaka and Homura romance routes will be in the canon path (the high drama situations produced by the canon anime narrative lends itself to better romance, imo), so that's one reward for people who stick to the anime narrative.
Haha, I have to wonder if it could even possibly be a coincidence. Eri Kitamura was already chosen for Karen for Bakemonogatari back in 2009, but I hardly think they could've been aware/thinking of Karen's future similarities with Sayaka when they began casting for Madoka for 2011. It's quite an interesting piece of knowledge indeed.
Thanks a lot for giving me feedback after each chapter of my fanfic! It really helps to keep me motivated to write more. I'm glad you like how I try to put a bit of twist on each divergence from the anime.
But yeah, I'd encourage you to keep track of all your choices in a WordPad or NotePad file somewhere, since the sheer number of them will add up over time, and there will come a point when you'll need to calculate what your affection is with at least one other girl.
Sol, children are always able to give parents "something in return".
I fear that you're starting to make the exact same mistake that I'm inclined to attribute to a certain subsection of the Japanese people - You are viewing love reciprocity and close relationship bonds through a sexual/romantic lens alone. I find this a very disturbing, and frankly rather narrow, understanding of human relationships and love itself.
Filial love is a perfectly legitimate and real form of love. It can be every bit as strong as romantic love, in an overall sense. It brings potential rewards with it every bit as great as romantic love. This is why many of us are getting joy from watching Usagi Drop. In how it portrays the bond between father figure/adopted child as we see with Daikichi and Rin.
You say that Rin is "mature for her age". Nonetheless, we're talking about a five year old girl here. No real life girl of that age is so mature that she'd fail to perceive an adult that looks after and cares for her from kindergarten to completion of high school as a parental figure.
Am I saying that Rin's character is highly unrealistic? Well, going by the manga taken as a whole, yes, I am. That's one of the reasons why I highly dislike the manga ending. If not for it, Rin's character would be a bit of a stretch (even some anime-only watchers have argued that), but at least she'd be somewhat plausible.
My point is that in the Usagi Drop anime/manga first half alone, we can reasonably attribute Rin's insistence to not call Daikichi her father to her being a stickler for semantics and biological accuracy. But the Usagi Drop manga's second half suggests that it is more insidious than that. That Rin's insistence to not call Daikichi her father is there to help pave the wave for a manga ending that violates the implicit parent-child relationship by developing a highly unrealistic relationship change/formation.
Now, I don't deny that Daikichi's decision to care for Rin is based on empathy rather than an inherent desire to be a parent. But then, that's true of many real life parents. For example, when a couple chooses to keep a child rather than abort that unborn child in spite of feeling wholly unprepared for parenthood. For such parents (particularly those with a strong moral objection to abortion) this decision is rooted much more in empathy for the unborn child than in a desire for parenthood.
But whatever caused an adult caregiver-child relationship to form in the first place does not change the fact that a decade or more of raising a very young child is going to naturally result in a firm parent/child relationship and paradigm for adult caregiver and child alike. It will have the Westermarck effect that you yourself referred to.
Furthermore, no man who raised a girl from the age of 5 to 15 is going to find it easy or "natural" to perceive her through the lens of sexual desire. Aside from pedophiles, anyway, and I see no indication whatsoever that Daikichi is a pedophile.
Now, to address the point of your last few sentences: One of the best ways to appeal to a minority is by attacking the much more accepted majority position. Usagi Drop spends so much time developing a "socio-normative" alternative precisely because those with bizarre sexual proclivities may well take joy in seeing those smashed. For them, the emotional effect of Usagi Drop spending much time building up a "socio-normative" alternative, only to bring it crashing down, would be akin to the emotional effect of a Superman fan watching Lex Luthor totally dominate him for 5 comic book issues of conflict only for Superman to arise victorious in a moment of supreme catharsis in concluding Part 6.
One observation I can't help but make: You yourself seem to view "socio-normative" in an entirely negative light. Just because something is a cultural or social norm doesn't necessarily mean that it's bad, or harmful to people. Often, those cultural and social norms exist for good reason, and are generally helpful to society.
One final note: If you wish to continue this discussion, please move it to PMs. Should this discussion go further, it will likely become an increasingly "hot button issue" (to borrow a political phrase), and that's not something I want on an even semi-public venue like your VM wall and mine.
lol, what the heck. I really surpassed the character limit. <-- that's the reason for the double post.
Spoiler for more Usagi Drop::
On a more general level, Rin is mature for age; and Daikichi inexperienced and emotionally unprepared (as a parent). I think Rin's declination of calling Daikichi "father" was not due to semantics or being a stickler for biological accuracy, but rather due to an implicit understanding of his lack of readiness and maturity compared to Souichirou--her real father, and his grandfather. This quality of Daikichi's is referenced repeatedly in the series with first Masako she might only be interested in him in another 50 years, or next Yukari's admonition that adults need to be calm and strong in the face of his panic over Rin's sickness. I think it is made strongly clear in the anime that Daikichi's decision to raise Rin is not made because he is ultimately prepared for parenthood, but rather because he accepted the impulse of empathy which drove him to take her in. Given Rin's environment and personality, I therefore find it perfectly believable that she might have matured and started developing independence long before Daikichi's role as a guiding figure of stability and authority to her was formed.
(On the "value" of Usagi Drop as a resulting story, with regards to the feminist issues I brought up, I did not mean to focus on female empowerment alone but rather as part of a greater picture/message about throwing off idealized social conventions. However, since I believe that the ending would be a story of Rin's romantic victory rather than Daikichi's, from a female perspective I think it is also intended as a triumph of "real" love. In the anime, Haruka's story emerges as critical depiction of the hazards of society's conventionally accepted path of courtship. Masako's relationship with Souichirou, furthermore, for all its practical difficulties, is hinted as having been deeply sincere and meaningful on a personal level--and is a relationship with almost blinding parallels to Daikichi and Rin. Fundamentally, Daikichi's initial act in choosing to take care of Rin was also an act contrary to the conventions of society, so the greater theme of this story can easily be understood as the genuine happiness which can be obtained when we act on love and empathy over what is socially expected of us. The conclusion to Yukari's plotline we have yet to see, but she represents the biggest challenge to our preconceptions yet for how she represents such an ideal and neatly wrapped socio-normative solution for all the deficiencies we presently perceive in Rin and Daikichi's lives. It is precisely because Yukari is developed as so attractive an alternative that I am certain that the final ending with Rin is significant and meaningful. If Usagi Drop's intention was just to appeal to a minority, it would not have spent so much time developing an alternative so appealing to the norm. Rather, Yukari is here to catch our attention, so that when the final message is delivered we will be forced to think.
Incidentally, for a separate manga also premised on a single man raising an abandoned 5 year old, I highly recommend checking out Yotsuba&!. It is a slice of life/comedy as opposed to Usagi Drop's slice of life/drama/social commentary, and I think the distinctions between the father/daughter relationships which emerge are a fairly meaningful reflection of the difference between the two works in terms of tone and intention.
Since your objection to Rin and Daikichi's relationship is based on the violation of an implicit parent-child relationship, I think we have to clearly define what we are thinking of when we say "parent and child". Of course, in standard cases parentage is simply defined as biological heritage. With regards to sexual attraction, I believe the biological supressment of sexual interest amongst family members is attributed to the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westermarck_effect, which is based on close physical proximity during one's years of early childhood. On an conceptual level, I might assert that an ideal parent-child relationship is one where the parent represents trust and stability, and becomes a role-model which serves as a prototype for adulthood. On the formation of a parent-child bond, it believe it may be necessary for the adult to accept the child at their most private or intimate but at the same time not reveal any weakness or insecurity themselves.
With regards to Rin and Daikichi's specific relationship, while I see that Rin is "under Daikichi's care" in the sense of living with him and being financially dependant on him, I feel that there is a greater than usual sense of emotional equivalency, or a failure of Daikichi on that last level to establish a difference in Rin and himself. When Daikichi cries in episode 4, he reveals to Rin a weakness which makes him relatable on her level, thereby undermining his status as an unassailable role model or fixture of stability in her mind. Rather than the parent-child dependency you mention implicitly in Rin being "under Daikichi's care", by the post-credits sequence ("Who is raising who?") Rin has firmly established the impression that she can give Daikichi something in return.
No, their resulting romantic relationship is not a perfectly natural one. I am very strongly opposed to it, and I'm going to explain the most objective reasons I currently have for why.
In fairness to you, I now do think that Rin's refusal to call Daikichi her "father" is a deliberate attempt on the mangaka's part to try to set the stage for her eventual romance with him after the time-skip.
However, it's this element that's also one of the most unrealistic elements of Usagi Drop's narrative. Insofar as this is a mere technicality in their relationship - A case of Rin being a stickler for semantics and biological accuracy - It is dismissible. But when it sets the stage for a wholly unrealistic relationship change/formation, then it becomes highly problematic.
If you were to take any real life five year old girl who has been abandoned, and put her under the care of a good, loving single man for the next 10 to 15 years of her life, she would eventually come to see that man as her father (even if she did not call him that explicitly). Or, at the very least, as a second father or an "Uncle" figure (if she was exceptionally attached to her biological father, as Rin was).
The Usagi Drop manga is only able to make the argument that you're (perhaps rightly) assigning to it because it is being wildly, and likely deliberately, unrealistic in this area.
And it's because it is very unrealistic that it fails as a practical thematic point.
After all, if there is anything that should be "realistic", it is something that is held to be "natural". Indeed, the two words are very nearly synonyms of one another.
The Usagi Drop manga ending is sadly a case of catering to bizarre sexual proclivities, and shoehorning that into the narrative in a way that sadly detracts greatly from otherwise impressive realism. Perhaps you do not agree, but I think there is some real value in portraying a caring man who rescues an abandoned girl, and develops a close parent/child bond with her over time, through all the trials and turmoil that this may entail. This is something of practical value that many people can appreciate.
I'm skipping your points pertaining to gender issues because there are many better and more realistic ways to portray an empowered woman in a romantic relationship than this. So I do not believe that feminist ideals alone (or even primarily) is what is behind the mangaka's decision to end the Usagi Drop manga the way it was.