Overwatch recently introduced some new characters into its ever-growing world, including a new playable hero. And while the giant centaur-like Omnic tank Orisa is an interesting addition to the fighting lineup, her creator is more interesting to me. Efi Oladele is an eleven-year-old inventor from the highly advanced African city of Numbani. Despite her young age, she’s already received worldwide attention after receiving a prestigious grant for her robotics work. After a mysterious attack at the Numbani International Airport, Efi was inspired to use her grant money to create a new protector for her city from an old OR15 defense bot. Thus, Orisa was born. Orisa is well-intentioned but still has a childlike innocence despite her many fighting capabilities, and Efi, while a genius, is also still an adorable preteen. The bot and her creator are to put it in simple terms, too precious, too pure, so I was excited to stumble upon a fic that captured that, especially since it hasn’t been that long since they were introduced.
As I was going through some CDs I’d made back in my high school days, I was forced to face something: I’d really liked Inuyasha. Like, a lot. So much that I had two CDs filled with the title and ending tracks (yes, I still know the words to Fukai Mori by heart) and several versions of Inuyasha’s Lullaby. So I was feeling a little nostalgic for the series, and seeking out Inuyasha fic this week really wasn’t any surprise to me. What was a surprise, however, was how few F/F fics there were for the series. I’m pretty sure that the Kagome/Thorin Oakenshield ship had more fics than any F/F ship, canon characters or not. Upon giving up my original search—sorry, Femslash February!—I did manage to find a really wonderful ficlet that further explored my favorite female character, Sango, after the events of the series.
Throughout the first fifty-some volumes of Inuyasha, the demon huntress Sango was always portrayed as a strong woman who had lost much, but didn’t allow her losses to consume her. However, the ending of the manga always rubbed me the wrong way. Though Sango was driven by wanting to put an end to the creature who had destroyed her village and family, and she did help achieve this, I never got the impression that just because she had achieved her goal, she would put down her metaphorical torch indefinitely. Yet the series’ end had her settling down with her love interest, Miroku, and popping out babies like it was no one’s business. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but it seemed like too much of a shift in character and agency and too much of a rushed out “and they lived happily ever after” epilogue. I didn’t trudge through so many volumes for this! While today’s fic doesn’t change the outcome, what it does offer is a closer look at Sango’s mindset and character development as she enters this new part of her life—something the series should have done in the first place.
Massive spoiler alert: everyone dies at the end of Rogue One. (That’s okay to say now, right?) The rebel crew, after a long-fought battle on Scarif, get the plans for the Death Star out to Leia Organa, but are all killed in the destruction of the planet. It makes sense from a storytelling perspective; if Jyn, Cassian, and everyone else were good enough to survive Scarif, it wouldn’t make any sense if we didn’t see them fighting alongside Luke and Leia in the original movies. So they had to die. However, if you, like me, left the movie asking yourself “did they really have to die, though???” today’s fanfic is for you.
Nintendo fans got lots of exciting news this month: a new system that has a lot of good third party support, new Fire Emblem games, a new Mario game, and, perhaps most anticipated, more news on the newest Legend of Zelda game, Breath of the Wild. While I still have many reservations about the game, especially concerning Zelda’s role and the stupidity of her not being a playable main character, watching the new trailer actually made me want to play a Zelda game for the first time in a long while. Thinking back, the last time I was actively interested in a Zelda game was back when The Phantom Hourglass came out in 2007. Though unrelated in narrative, the 3DS game borrowed heavily from the 2002 Gamecube game, Wind Waker, which remains one of my favorite iterations of the Zelda story and is by far my favorite art style of the whole series.
My Zelda flames stoked once more, I set out in search of fic of my favorite Wind Waker-verse character, Tetra. While the headstrong pirate girl got seriously shafted in the second half of Wind Waker due to her “true calling” as a reincarnation of Princess Zelda, I found her character intriguing. How did this pre-teen-looking girl become the captain of a pirate crew? How did she end up forming this found family with a bunch of strange dudes? Furthermore, how would she adapt to her duties as princess while still holding onto to her pirate life? While the fic I found doesn’t answer anything about her past, it does make a pretty good guess about her future—while throwing in a ship that I didn’t know I wanted, but am glad that I know of now.
There are a lot of things I could have done over the winter holidays, but instead of doing any of those things, I re-watched Yuri!!! on Ice and then started watching the dubbed version just to see if it was any good. (Verdict so far: not bad, but I still prefer the sub.) One thing that really struck me in these re-watches was Yuuri’s anxiety. On my first run-through, I thought that he just had performance anxiety—it wasn’t until I’d watched it again that I realized he actually had an anxiety disorder. Yuuri describes himself as a dime-a-dozen skater despite making it to the Grand Prix Finals, he doesn’t understand how five time gold medallist Viktor Nikiforov could be interested in him despite his being able to skate Viktor’s free program flawlessly, and he can’t see that his friends and family support him and believe in him despite there being ample evidence of it.
Yuri!!! on Ice’s depiction of anxiety and mental illness was done just subtly enough to feel natural without beating the viewer over the head with Yuuri’s concerns. Most importantly, Viktor and Yuuri’s relationship showed something that’s rarely seen in a fictional romantic relationship: Yuuri’s anxiety doesn’t just up and disappear now that he has a significant other, and in fact, some of the things Viktor tries to help Yuuri end up not helping at all. Today’s fanfic expands on some of those themes in a sweet, yet realistic, story.
Spoilers for all of Yuri!!! on Ice after the jump!
Now that this semester of grad school has ended, I finally have time to write a post! It just so happens to be our last post before our holiday break, too, which tells you a bit about the craziness of my schedule…. You see, I’m a PhD student studying Learning Sciences, which is all about researching how people learn and how we can use those findings to reform the educational system. Trying to balance my online fandom life with my grad school life has been an ongoing struggle, but surprisingly, one of the things I’ve learned in my program is that many researchers in and around this field study the educational implications of fandom. Well, now I’m here to cross over between my offline and online life by sharing some of that work with you, as well as some findings from my own research!
It may come as no surprise to you that fans learn a great deal from engaging in fandom, whether they’re writing fanfics, composing meta, creating fanart, making cosplays, or heck, even writing essays from a critical lens like on this blog! But fandom still tends to be viewed dismissively by mainstream culture, and even we fans sometimes devalue our engagement as a mere “hobby”. Modern learning theorists now acknowledge the importance of learning outside of school, and are calling for in-school learning to be more like the interest- and peer-driven realm of outside-of-school learning, including hobbies like fandom. There are so many ways that fan engagement is related to the kinds of subjects people learn in school and to skills that are generally useful in life. And better yet, it’s in a context that people really care about, rather than the decontextualized content conventionally presented in schools, which can seem random and unconnected to students’ lives.
So, this fandom thing you’re doing right now? It’s totally legitimate, important, and socially responsible. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
I had every intention of looking up a fic that had some of that holiday spirit in it, but then something surprising came and slapped me right in the face. There are few things that grab my attention more than Gothic horror romances, so when I found a fic that was both a Gothic Victorian AU and for a series that I’ve come to truly love and appreciate within the realms of fiction and in a more meta context, whatever plans I may have had for this article promptly died where they stood.
Over this year Critical Role has become a show that’s affected me deeply, and its several-year run has helped induce a tabletop roleplaying boom across the web. The show features seven voice actors and actresses—Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Liam O’Brian, Ashley Johnson, and Travis Willingham—along with fellow voice actor Matthew Mercer taking the role of DM, as they play through their D&D campaign. While some may not see the appeal of watching a bunch of people play D&D on camera, for many (myself included) it’s a new, vibrant way of experiencing a story that has just as much impact as a comic or a television show, with the added fun of OOC japes and fan content thrown in. While it’s on its 78th episode, with each episode being roughly three or four hours long, I still highly recommend experiencing the story for yourself. But, without further ado, let’s dive into today’s AU fanfic of Critical Role.