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Old 2012-10-25, 01:48   Link #121
relentlessflame
 
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Originally Posted by 4Tran View Post
A decision that doesn't have serious consequences doesn't carry any narrative weight, and so in turn, aren't particularly meaningful. They tend to be foregone conclusion where the purpose is just to move a character from Point A to Point B. This is how Sword Art Online feels - all the action is just meant to move from one setpiece to another one, with very little input from the characters.
There's a certain amount of subtlety to this, though. I would argue that all decisions in a story are intended to move the characters from Point A to Point B, no matter how it's presented (and even if Point B is just to deliver the moral of the story). Whatever input the characters have is still staged and designed to reach a pre-determined conclusion. The only difference, we might say, is the extent to which they hide it; the degree to which the narrative emphasizes the thought process and struggles that form the basis of the decision, and how they portray this on-screen. This all helps you relate to the character, their decision-making process, and their growth over the course of the story.

To again use the current example, Asuna's decision to stop isolating herself, to join the guild, and work her way up to the position of authority she was in were pretty serious and important decisions that had major consequences to her and to the narrative (and had little to do with Kirito except indirectly). Her then realization that her own attitude and single-minded ambition was both causing her stress and the guild tension was also a significant realization (and Kirito here was only the influence for the realization, her own decisions were the root cause). But, SAO (the anime at least; don't know the books) only relayed this information indirectly through flashbacks and dialogue (not through "action"). If you take these very same bits of information (that were present in the story) and present them differently (allowing them to be fleshed-out and developed on-screen), the perspective would be entirely different. You would be giving narrative weight to decisions by showing their "serious consequences" rather than just alluding to and referencing them.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I think it really works in reverse. Characters in stories never actually make "decisions" because they have no will or choice -- they're always necessarily strung along by the author. But the issue here is where the narrative puts its focus. I think there wasn't a lack of opportunities in the story presented to explore meaningful decisions that had real impact on the characters (i.e. they alluded to such things), but they got cut or minimized perhaps in the interest of time (and "to keep the plot moving").

I suppose all this is a really roundabout way of coming to the same conclusion you did: that there were opportunities there, but not taken. I just naturally take a sort of holistic view and incorporate both the events shown and the events referenced when forming my picture of a character's personality. But I accept, at the same time, that this isn't necessarily an ideal portrayal. Perhaps that's where I see a bit of a point in NK_500's false dichotomy; I'll still take a rough sketch of what's intended to be a well-rounded character, and not immediately dismiss it as rubbish just because it could have been better. So to go all the way back to the point that started the thread, I think it isn't really an "on-off switch" -- there are pros and cons to each portrayal.
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Old 2012-10-25, 01:59   Link #122
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I didn't read the thread and I'm going to restrict myself from flaming everyone in it but here is a relevant (and funny) comic: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=311
maybe you will get the point, maybe not, but it's funny either way
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Old 2012-10-25, 02:58   Link #123
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
To again use the current example, Asuna's decision to stop isolating herself, to join the guild, and work her way up to the position of authority she was in were pretty serious and important decisions that had major consequences to her and to the narrative (and had little to do with Kirito except indirectly). Her then realization that her own attitude and single-minded ambition was both causing her stress and the guild tension was also a significant realization (and Kirito here was only the influence for the realization, her own decisions were the root cause).
Heh, yesterday I started typing but deleted a post, explaining how these exact decisions had me rolling my eyes at Asuna's narrative treatment, since all her decisions are triggered by Kirito. How it's the my-waifu-pays-attention-only-to-me-and-gets-stuck-in-a-rut-when-I'm-not-around trap. (It involved a statement how she chose the least social, most task oriented guild possible, and so on.) I'd decided to shut up about it, but this quote was just to good to pass up.

Anyway, my interpretation is consistent with how I watch SAO: as gamer's fantasy with occasional self-reflection.
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Old 2012-10-25, 03:26   Link #124
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Heh, yesterday I started typing but deleted a post, explaining how these exact decisions had me rolling my eyes at Asuna's narrative treatment, since all her decisions are triggered by Kirito. How it's the my-waifu-pays-attention-only-to-me-and-gets-stuck-in-a-rut-when-I'm-not-around trap. (It involved a statement how she chose the least social, most task oriented guild possible, and so on.)
I think that's a bit of a spin to put on it. She spent nearly two years in that guild and worked herself up the ranks without Kirito (and was basically at odds with him). She certainly wasn't doing it for his sake, but for her own. And as for her "getting stuck", both of them brought perspectives to each other's lives that they were lacking. The narrative is arguably too protagonist-focused, but I at least didn't see it as so cynical.
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Old 2012-10-25, 03:28   Link #125
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Asuna being a component to Kirito is not the problem.
Asuna MERELY being a component to Kirito and nothing else is the problem.

Hence, why I brought up the Bechdel test. The point is to show that girls have more on their minds than just men.
Bechdel assesses the extent to which relationships between women are important to a narrative. It doesn't provide any sort of answer to whether a women has more on her mind than a man or the strength of her character independent of her relationship with the male lead.

It's seems blatantly obvious to me that Asuna has more on her mind than Kirito and that she could stand on her own as a character were she not Kirito's love interest (or even in contact with him). That she is Kirito's love interest changes nothing for me. So I don't see much ground to argue that she's a failure as an action girl. I see grounds to argue the story fails to capitalize on her potential. And even there, my tendency is to agree with Relentless: the story isn't so much sexist as "on rails".
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Old 2012-10-25, 03:50   Link #126
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
I think that's a bit of a spin to put on it. She spent nearly two years in that guild and worked herself up the ranks without Kirito (and was basically at odds with him). She certainly wasn't doing it for his sake, but for her own. And as for her "getting stuck", both of them brought perspectives to each other's lives that they were lacking. The narrative is arguably too protagonist-focused, but I at least didn't see it as so cynical.
From Asuna's character thread.
Quote:
It's kind of hilarious in a cute sort of way how seriously Asuna takes everything Kirito says. I mean, it's like

Kirito: Hey, you can put cream on bread and it tastes better.
Asuna/ Maxes out her cooking skill and spends a year analyzing every seasoning in the game
Kirito: There are limits to what a soloer can do. Join a guild sometime.
Asuna/ Becomes second-in-command of the strongest guild in the game
Kirito: Man, it's too nice outside to spend the day in the dungeon. You should take a break.
Asuna/ Falls asleep instantly
Kirito: Hey, maybe I should spend the night at your place.
Asuna/ Starts stripping
It's what some people mean by Asuna's decisions were based on Kirito. And like I said in the thread, I don't think this is particularly sexist, but I can understand if people call it so (especially if it's simplified like this).
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Old 2012-10-25, 04:23   Link #127
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@erneiz_hyde:

Okay, when you put it that way, I start to see where the other side is coming from. I don't think she's doing all that just for Kirito by any stretch of the imagination, but that is edging towards the kind of excessive devotion/worship of the male lead that I as a hardcore moe fan encounter from time to time in titles I might otherwise like (and sometimes do in spite of).
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Old 2012-10-25, 04:29   Link #128
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It's what some people mean by Asuna's decisions were based on Kirito. And like I said in the thread, I don't think this is particularly sexist, but I can understand if people call it so (especially if it's simplified like this).
It's definitely an over-simplification. But, yes -- this is the "problem" when the story basically only follows the protagonist everywhere. The only elements they introduced to call-back to are the ones introduced when he was there. That applies to everything, though -- Heathcliff, Egil, Klein, etc. Perhaps this would all make more sense if the story were being actively narrated in the first-person, as I'm guessing it probably is in the book. In the anime, it's as if we're seeing a third-person perspective (very minimal narration), but everything is still locked to the protagonist. Without all the narration, that may make everything seem unusually slanted. That is why it may seem that Asuna only exists as it relates to Kirito -- because the whole world presented only exists as it relates to Kirito. (And as we said before, even he really is only there to be pulled along by the plot.)

I guess I'd go back to the comparison I did before to Accel World to explain how the author overcame that obstacle the second time. It's a story that features many more converging perspectives, and so Kuroyukihime comes across much more effectively.
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Old 2012-10-25, 05:11   Link #129
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To be honest I never really though KYH is a good example of an Action Girl because I always felt they were treating her like some sort of object by making her so OP. Like a sort of "this super strong independent woman is in love with a loser like you" kind of shallow wishful thinking. I mean it was generally hinted it during the anime when they flat out stated that character dynamic right out loud in the OVA, I just couldn't help but roll my eyes. Though to be fair I suppose that's more Haru's fault than KYH. In the end, I would have to agree that KYH is a better Action Girl than Asuna (Though I still think Asuna has more personality).
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Old 2012-10-25, 11:45   Link #130
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It's certainly very true that these characters can be bounded too much by patriarchal wish fulfillment though completely trying to avoid societal expectations results in too much political correctness, and then nothing gets done.

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You are talking about Nanoha and Fate. Haha!! It IS otaku pandering no matter how you slice it. Tsuzuki is still writing the franchise with those otakus breathing over his neck. He, and the franchise, ARE weighted down by the inability to move past NanoFate. Vivio is thrown in to keep them "pure", their portrayal as a family with two mommies feels dishonest and striking me as no more than pandering. Sarah Connor's portrayal in the series Sarah Connor's Chronicles felt more "real", she acknowledge her failings, her doubts, she knows her son is going through his own adolescence crisis. But in the end, she focuses on her own agenda, live long enough to see her son ready,and make sure he acquires the skills and character needed to be the humanity's savior.

Portrayals of women like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley are progressist, Nano and Fate are not.


Edit: ask yourself that question: how many fans are going to stay fans if any of the two girls are paired with a man, and why ships with Chrono and Yuuno are sunk and why the both boys fades in the background. Yuuno DOESN'T even appear in the lastest spinoff for heck's sake. So answer honestly. Why?
As a minor fan of NanoFate, and a close friend any of many dedicated ones, I can't agree with this. In fact, Nanofate is one of the few things that Tsuzuki hasn't managed to drive into the ground.

While I'll agree with you that NanoFate is broken in the series and StrikerS wasted time going nowhere with it (a recurring them for that show), I wouldn't place it as the single case of what's why people are being excluded.

Ships with Chrono and Yuno were sunk just because the series has a consistent malady of not knowing what the hell to do. They love to create characters and throw them away like insignificant footnotes. Then again Nanoha has a larger cast than DBZ, and Toriyama couldn't remember some of his characters. Also, Chrono's ship got sunk for legitimate reasons.

NanoFate is a symptom of the problem. It's so prevalent in the series because Tsuzuki now uses it as a crutch instead of assistance. Well, no, at this point by Vivid, it's fucking Life Support.

Ultimately, the franchise's story is so wonky goes beyond a desire to pander. They are just so afraid of commitment that they end up doing nothing. This is a far cry from the days that a seemingly generic loli fanservice show descended from a VN side story suddenly dared to became a superhero magical girl mecha-fighting series, becoming a major footnote instead of a forgotten novelty.Well, okay, there's Force and it attempted something very different, but the less said about that the better.

Though if StrikerS did anything right, Nanoha and Fate are both career women and in StrikerS' better moments treated the whole thing casually and without too much judgement. This is a good portrayal. Though of course, I don't like Vivio at all and she clearly was a pandering tool, but really, then again we have to look at the series' roots.

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To be honest I never really though KYH is a good example of an Action Girl because I always felt they were treating her like some sort of object by making her so OP. Like a sort of "this super strong independent woman is in love with a loser like you" kind of shallow wishful thinking. I mean it was generally hinted it during the anime when they flat out stated that character dynamic right out loud in the OVA, I just couldn't help but roll my eyes. Though to be fair I suppose that's more Haru's fault than KYH. In the end, I would have to agree that KYH is a better Action Girl than Asuna (Though I still think Asuna has more personality).
The OVA was a joke lol (very tongue in cheek)

Anyhow, I had felt that at first that they were definitely going for some "perfect girl goes for some reason loser that doesn't deserve it" like many, many anime out there. But ultimately, it feels like the decision was hers to make, and not just because Haru is the main character. There was a legitimate reason and advantage for her to solicit him.

Okay, well, one could argue they went too far with making Haru so pitiful looking given his VA and design, but it certainly is something other than generic bishie design #901.

But I haven't finished the main series, so that's all I can really comment.

In the end, I feel that when it comes to Kuroyukihime, that I can talk about her alone. Anything interesting involving Asuna, is usually thought of me as "Asuna and Kirito" as the best part to discuss to me is their relationship dynamic. Asuna alone is not very interesting though arguably this applies to Kirito too. There's pros and cons to this.
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Old 2012-10-25, 13:38   Link #131
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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
There's a certain amount of subtlety to this, though. I would argue that all decisions in a story are intended to move the characters from Point A to Point B, no matter how it's presented (and even if Point B is just to deliver the moral of the story). Whatever input the characters have is still staged and designed to reach a pre-determined conclusion. The only difference, we might say, is the extent to which they hide it; the degree to which the narrative emphasizes the thought process and struggles that form the basis of the decision, and how they portray this on-screen.
That's untrue. While all characters decisions are Point A to Point B transitions, they can still be more than that. Whether the result is predetermined by the writer is unimportant - what's important is the conflict inherent in the decision. No-conflict decisions are non-meaningful because they don't really matter. Examples abound, but the first one that comes to mind is Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Originally Posted by relentlessflame View Post
To again use the current example, Asuna's decision to stop isolating herself, to join the guild, and work her way up to the position of authority she was in were pretty serious and important decisions that had major consequences to her and to the narrative (and had little to do with Kirito except indirectly).
This was going to be my example of a non-meaningful decision. There's no conflict involved in the matter of joining vs. not joining, and it doesn't even pave the way for any interesting storytelling. Its real purpose is to show valuable a partner Asuna is: it's validation for the hero. This is even more obvious when we see all of her fans gushing over her.

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So I guess what I'm saying is that I think it really works in reverse. Characters in stories never actually make "decisions" because they have no will or choice -- they're always necessarily strung along by the author. But the issue here is where the narrative puts its focus. I think there wasn't a lack of opportunities in the story presented to explore meaningful decisions that had real impact on the characters (i.e. they alluded to such things), but they got cut or minimized perhaps in the interest of time (and "to keep the plot moving").
A work interested in the narrative weight of Asuna's decision to join the guild would have to be also willing to invest time to develop it. The lack of willingness to invest tells us how much it's valued. Yes, this is partly because of the story structure, but it's a limitation that the writer considered acceptable.

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That is why it may seem that Asuna only exists as it relates to Kirito -- because the whole world presented only exists as it relates to Kirito. (And as we said before, even he really is only there to be pulled along by the plot.)
That's all quite true. And I'd really chalk it to weak writing more than anything else. It's a shame since the show's put together fairly competently otherwise.
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Old 2012-10-25, 15:17   Link #132
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That's untrue. While all characters decisions are Point A to Point B transitions, they can still be more than that. Whether the result is predetermined by the writer is unimportant - what's important is the conflict inherent in the decision. No-conflict decisions are non-meaningful because they don't really matter. Examples abound, but the first one that comes to mind is Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back.
Personally, I think this is no less illusionary. He betrays them at one point to get the plot from A to B, and he regrets it later and helps to get the plot from B to C. He's portrayed as a "conflicted character", but I still maintain that -- really -- it's no less of an illusion. So I stand by what I said, but I understand what you're saying about decisions involving inherent conflict being more interesting and making the resulting characters more interesting. And, besides that, even "no-conflict decisions" can still be meaningful to progress the plot, even if they don't develop the characters as significantly in the process.

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This was going to be my example of a non-meaningful decision. There's no conflict involved in the matter of joining vs. not joining, and it doesn't even pave the way for any interesting storytelling. Its real purpose is to show valuable a partner Asuna is: it's validation for the hero. This is even more obvious when we see all of her fans gushing over her.
Again, I think that's a more cynical perspective than I would apply. Her transition from a scared victim who locked herself in a hotel room waiting for the game to be over to one who was willing to get out there and fight for her own life (even as countless others stayed back) is a pretty meaningful decision to her, at least. Of course, it also serves the plot, as does everything. I reject the argument that every bit of characterization she is given is just to make Kirito look good, but I continue to also concede that the story hasn't developed any of the characters as well as it could have. I think there are certainly areas for potential improvement, but just how severely you rate this "flaw" depends on personal perspective and preferences.


Anyway, I guess I'll leave it there because this SAO tangent (from me, anyway) has probably gone on long enough. I do think it's a relevant illustration for this thread, but at this point I suppose people will just have to make up their own mind on what or where the line is.
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Old 2012-10-25, 19:07   Link #133
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You are talking about Nanoha and Fate. Haha!! It IS otaku pandering no matter how you slice it.
I certainly won't deny that NanoFate is rooted to a great degree in otaku pandering, but I don't see how that makes either character weaker.

Both are extremely competent, no-nonsense soldiers who take their professions seriously and are very effective at they do. They carry themselves with consistent professionalism, but also have moments of weakness that keeps them humanized. Both of them have friends and loved ones aside from just each other.


Quote:
Tsuzuki is still writing the franchise with those otakus breathing over his neck. He, and the franchise, ARE weighted down by the inability to move past NanoFate.
Why does the franchise have to move past NanoFate? What would be wrong with NanoFate as a lesbian couple? The hints are there, and many. It would hardly be a contrivance at this point.


Quote:
Sarah Connor's portrayal in the series Sarah Connor's Chronicles felt more "real", she acknowledge her failings, her doubts, she knows her son is going through his own adolescence crisis.
I could accurately say much the same about both Fate and Nanoha (just with Vivio in the child role here).


Quote:
Portrayals of women like Sarah Connor and Ellen Ripley are progressist, Nano and Fate are not.
I completely and strongly disagree. Nanoha and Fate are very strong female characters. To be honest, I suspect you don't want to give them credit just because they're not "dark" or "gritty" like Connor and Ripley are. Who says that an Action Girl has to carry this grimdark image in order to be a strong female character? Is WonderWoman weak just because she's typically portrayed as somewhat idealistic and optimistic?
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Old 2012-10-26, 04:28   Link #134
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The OVA was a joke lol (very tongue in cheek)
I know a lot of people say that but I'm still not sure whether that bit was one of the ones the bits they were playing for laughs. Unless the entire OVA was a giant parody of their own series...

Quote:
Anyhow, I had felt that at first that they were definitely going for some "perfect girl goes for some reason loser that doesn't deserve it" like many, many anime out there. But ultimately, it feels like the decision was hers to make, and not just because Haru is the main character. There was a legitimate reason and advantage for her to solicit him.

Okay, well, one could argue they went too far with making Haru so pitiful looking given his VA and design, but it certainly is something other than generic bishie design #901.
That's pretty much what I could only feel. That she was only in love with Haru because Haru is the main character and for whatever reason I could just never get past that. It's not like KYH was a complete failure or anything. They did give her some interesting backgrounds and a somewhat okayish sidestory but I still felt there was a lot missing in her character. I agree that with KYH (and unlike Asuna) I can talk about her alone but only/mostly in so far as her background.
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Old 2012-10-26, 14:05   Link #135
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Personally, I think this is no less illusionary. He betrays them at one point to get the plot from A to B, and he regrets it later and helps to get the plot from B to C. He's portrayed as a "conflicted character", but I still maintain that -- really -- it's no less of an illusion.
I don't know how important it is whether the empowerment is illusionary or not. I just like conflict and meaningful decisions because we get all sorts of neat flavor - like weighing values, conflicted interests and characterizations. These happen to constitute some of my favorite character moments in fiction.

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So I stand by what I said, but I understand what you're saying about decisions involving inherent conflict being more interesting and making the resulting characters more interesting. And, besides that, even "no-conflict decisions" can still be meaningful to progress the plot, even if they don't develop the characters as significantly in the process.
Progressing the plot is only of value if the plot itself is interesting. All too often, the plot of an anime is significantly less entertaining than its other elements.
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Old 2012-10-26, 17:45   Link #136
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That's pretty much what I could only feel. That she was only in love with Haru because Haru is the main character and for whatever reason I could just never get past that. It's not like KYH was a complete failure or anything. They did give her some interesting backgrounds and a somewhat okayish sidestory but I still felt there was a lot missing in her character. I agree that with KYH (and unlike Asuna) I can talk about her alone but only/mostly in so far as her background.
From what I saw, the interest started due to practical reasons-- she had something to gain. For whatever reasons after the events led to other emotions, and perhaps I'm a bit cynical but I think all human relationships start because some kind of need which develops into more at times. I mean ...

Spoiler for Accel World:


I think the reason is deeper than many stories where it goes female = must be love interest.
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Old 2012-10-26, 19:22   Link #137
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Yeah, I agree with Archon on Accel World. I think KYH is given many good, sensible reasons for why she is in love with Haru.
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Old 2012-10-27, 05:29   Link #138
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she didn't plan to fall in love with him

she planned to use him for her own purposes, because she realized his fast brain reaction speed.

she herself admits that, and she claims she has changed her perspective about him now

I don't think she's lying. However, I think that she also wants to believe her own words.
She wants to believe she is not using him. I think she's still feeling guilty about it, and it's not completely genuine yet.

It's clear that there's some very serious personal drama going on in the game that has leaked and affected her life.
And it's also clear that she is dedicated to resolve that. How much is she willing to stake for this? That, I don't know yet.
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Old 2012-10-27, 06:06   Link #139
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Why does the franchise have to move past NanoFate? What would be wrong with NanoFate as a lesbian couple? The hints are there, and many. It would hardly be a contrivance at this point.
Because being tied to nanofate means more than just being tied to having the pairing, it means being tied to having to show the pairing and having to avoid stepping on the toes of the rabid fans.

In Vivid, for example, it is no surprise we see nanofate. Family and all. But here's the viper in the grass: The complete and utter absence of Yuuno. Even though this is the guy who was established as a close friend and teacher of Vivio, we see hide nor hair of him. He's even not present in a moment that would have been perfect for him, the moment where they dig for historical information on old Belka.

So a character that has been established as having close ties to Vivio, is being written out of a manga starring Vivio even during a moment where his presence would have made perfect sense. All to avoid stepping on the wrong toes.

Then we come to Force. Force could really have benefited from a completely fresh cast or a focus on the StrikerS cast rather than throwing in the old cast again. But hey, we can't have a Nanoha manga without nanofate, so in they go!

The pairing ties down the franchise to old characters. Signs of trying to move away from it are there, after all the entirety of StrikerS had an undertone of "passing on the torch" to the new generation and having them continue the franchise. But they can't, because they're tied.

Which is a shame, because SSX stared absolutely zero pre-StrikerS characters, and was a lot of fun. I would have loved to see that turned into an OVA.
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Old 2012-10-27, 06:32   Link #140
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keroko View Post
Because being tied to nanofate means more than just being tied to the pairing, it means being tied to having to show the pairing and having to avoid stepping on the toes of the rabid fans.
If this is what the fans want, then that just makes it even sillier to say that the franchise needs to move "pass it".

There is nothing inherently wrong with NanoFate as the main pairing of the franchise. It makes perfectly good sense, and it's been built-up extremely well. Having them together does not in any way, shape, or form prevent the Nanoha franchise from presenting good stories and compelling narratives.

It's unfortunate that Yuuno has been pushed aside, but he's hardly alone in that regard. StrikerS pretty much forgot entirely about Nanoha's original season family and friends. This is the inevitable cost you pay for massive cast enlargement, some important original cast members are going to just disappear, as there's just not room for everybody.


Quote:

So a character that has been established as having close ties to Vivio, is being written out of a manga starring Vivio even during a moment where his presence would have made perfect sense. All to avoid stepping on the wrong toes.

Then we come to Force. Force could really have benefited from a completely fresh cast or a focus on the StrikerS cast rather than throwing in the old cast again. But hey, we can't have a Nanoha manga without nanofate, so in they go!

The entirety of StrikerS had an undertone of "passing on the torch" to the new generation and having them continue the franchise. But they can't, because they're tied.
This isn't because Nanoha and Fate are "tied". This is because they're extremely popular within the fandom, period. This is no different than how DBZ couldn't "pass on the torch" from Goku to Gohan (which was Toriyama's plan, actually) because Goku was simply more popular than his son.
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