Dear Authors: I’m Begging You to Stop Epiloguing

One of my favorite books when I was younger was Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith. It had everything a girl with my interests could have hoped for: a plucky heroine, rebellion, a fantasy setting, court intrigue, epistolary romance… I adored it. When I got to the end of the book, however, I discovered something strange.

The last ten pages of the book promised a never-before-seen addition to the story. Excited to read more about Mel and Danric and the rest, I eagerly turned the page… to discover that the addition was a trite and honestly embarrassing epilogue. It was tooth-rottingly saccharine, and turned the kickass protagonist into a wilting flower too nervous to talk honestly with her husband. I didn’t have much of a critical eye at age eleven, but even then I knew it was a shitty writing decision. So why are so many authors going the way of the epilogue now? It’s terrible in so many ways, and it needs to stop.


Just. No.

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Fanfiction Fridays: White Knight, Burning Bright by blackkkat

Anko MitarashiI have an on and off love affair with Naruto, and at any given time, I don’t know how I feel about it. On the one hand, it has a cast of thousands, and a good number of those characters get whole arcs to themselves, which is awesome. On the other hand, the story is really looooooong. And the large cast means that we don’t get to spend nearly as much time with certain characters as I would like. One such character that always fascinated me was Anko Mitarashi, Orochimaru’s former pupil.

Personality wise, Anko is a lot like Naruto—loud, robust, and driven. By the time the manga starts, Anko has it out for Orochimaru. She used to aspire to be like him, until he experimented on her and betrayed the village. White Knight, Burning Bright takes place in a world where Orochimaru was captured before giving Anko the Cursed Seal. Now, Orochimaru lives out his days in Konoha with most of his chakra sealed away, and with Anko his only ally.

I’ll admit that the setup for this story kind of threw me off at first, because it’s hard to imagine Orochimaru and Anko actually getting along. Nevertheless, I decided to check it out and was pleasantly surprised.

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Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon): 2016 Edition

Here at LGG&F we like our romance with a side of geek, and this year we are bringing you a ship list to make any fangirl swoon! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. Many were nominated, but only a select few made the cut.


via reddit

It is now my duty to present to you this year’s super cute and sexy ships!

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Fanfiction Fridays: Felix Culpa by Ninjagrrl

I first read Felix Culpa back in 2008 when I was really into Naruto. I fell out of the series sometime around Shippuden, because I heard the show was about to jump into yet another filler arc, and well, I lost interest. I’ve only recently just gotten back into Naruto, and since I can no longer find all the episodes on YouTube, at least not in Japanese, I turned to fanfiction. Instantly, I remembered that not only does Felix Culpa exist, but that it was one of the better fics I had read for the series way back when.

kakashi-and-itachiThe fic starts after Naruto loses control over the nine-tailed fox spirit and attacks a whole bunch of people. Caught in the conflict is none other than Itachi, who, in his weakened state from the battle, is easily captured by Konoha.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Team 8 by S’TarKan

“I presume that Jiraiya has the contract for toads?” Kurenai asked.

Naruto nodded, and they both jumped as Shino dropped his folder on the floor. Shino quickly bent over and began gathering up his papers, shoving them haphazardly into the folder. When he straightened up, Kurenai thought she noticed a slight tremor in his hands. “Are you all right?” she asked.

Shino nodded. Then he turned to Naruto. “That would be a very formidable technique. That being the case, I will no doubt be forced to forfeit the match if we meet in the finals.”

“Forfeit?” Naruto asked, clearly dismayed. “But why?”

“Toads are incredibly voracious insectivores,” Shino explained, “capable of consuming a significant portion of their own body mass in a single night. If I attempted to use my kikai jutsu around them, I would stand to lose significant portions of my colonies in short order. Even if I were to defeat you, I would be effectively crippled in the process.”

“Oh,” Naruto said.

“However, you should not let that be your sole decision criterion,” Shino concluded. “As this should remain between you and Kurenai-sensei, I will bid you both good evening.”

With that, Shino left, and Kurenai wondered if it was her imagination or he was walking a little faster than usual. She shook her head and turned back to Naruto. “If you’d like some more information, I’ll see what I can find at the library.”

Naruto shook his head. “No way am I signing that scroll now,” he declared.

Kurenai merely raised an eyebrow and awaited his explanation.

“The old pervert was showing off when he demonstrated the technique,” Naruto began. “Some of those toads are really big. I wouldn’t dare try using them when we’re on a mission — one of them might eat Shino, just to get all his bugs.”

Kurenai blinked. “I see,” she said. That was definitely a novel reason not to learn a new jutsu. She only hoped Naruto didn’t later regret his thoughtfulness.

After fifteen long years, Naruto has finally, finally come to an end. I used to be really into the series, but as author Masashi Kishimoto continued to drag the story on and on, I eventually lost interest. However, some of my friends did not lose interest, and gave me blow-by-blow updates of the important plot twists as they unfolded (and ignored my complaints about the Uchiha, of which there were many). Finally, the last few chapters rolled around, and, intrigued despite myself, I read them. Spoiler alert: they covered exactly none of what I wanted them to cover. Yes, all my ships came true, but none of them made any sense! What about character development? What about the advancement of ninja ideals and society? What about my favorite clan, the Hyuuga?

It was time to delve even further into nostalgia. Feeling bitter about everything, I went into my fanfic bookmarks and hunted out one of my old Naruto fandom favorites: Team 8.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Buddha: The Path Toward Enlightenment in Naruto, Part 2

Welcome back! In Part 1 of this series, I categorized several characters from the anime/manga series Naruto as representative of the naraka (hell), preta (“hungry ghost”), and animal realms of the Buddhist “desire world”. This week, I’ll discuss the deva (god), asura (demigod), and human realms, as well as wrap up with what I think this means for the series’ interpretation of release from the cycle of Samsara. Spoilers ahead!


Naruto the Ninja Buddha. Well, the Sage of the Six Paths was one too, but in Buddhism, each age has its own Buddha.

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Oh, My Pop Culture Buddha: The Path Toward Enlightenment in Naruto, Part 1

Let’s get one thing out of the way: I know my current favorite anime/manga series Naruto has tons of issues. I know its storytelling has been feeble for years now, it’s a total trainwreck from a feminist perspective, and it throws around religious references frivolously, like they’re sprinkles on a sundae.

But I have to give the series credit for being thematically consistent… perhaps even to the point of being overbearing. For a long time I thought the themes were generic values like teamwork, brotherhood, perseverance, and sacrifice. But as the narrative wore on, it became clearer and clearer how cyclical everything was: the endless cycle of war between the Senju and Uchiha, the cycle of each generation taking on the roles of the previous generation, and the literal cycle of reincarnation of the two sons of the Sage of the Six Paths. To understand this, we’re going to have to dive a little deeper than generic, fairly Western values. If I had been paying as much attention to translations of Japanese terms as I should have been, I would have realized far earlier that all these cycles are evoking a particular cycle, the cycle of Samsara: the endless loop of death and rebirth in Hindu and Buddhist belief. You see, “Rinnegan” translates to “Samsara eye”. And the Rinnegan is the pinnacle of all ocular powers, and the center of conflict for much of the second half of the series.

Okay, so the characters in Naruto are caught in the cycle of Samsara, so what? Well, there’s a lot to Samsara. In some branches of Buddhism, there are six realms of existence within the world of “desire” (Sanskrit kāma-dhātu) into which one can be reborn while within the cycle of Samsara: the god or deva realm, the asura or demigod realm, the human realm, the animal realm, the preta or “hungry ghost” realm, and the naraka or hell realm. These words will sound familiar to any readers/viewers of Naruto; the Six Paths that Pain/Nagato used (with his Rinnegan) are named after them. But even more deeply than that, I think there is at least one character in the series who represents each of the realms. The good news is that all of the characters I will discuss below are “getting better”, moving closer toward enlightenment—i.e., toward breaking free from the cycle of Samsara. In this first of a two-part series, I’ll discuss characters representing the naraka, preta, and animal realms. Spoilers for all of Naruto below!

Six Paths of Pain

Believe it or not, the Six Paths of Pain are not the embodiments of the Buddhist six realms. They just have powers marginally related to their names.

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