“Wreck the Internet” kinda sounds better, doesn’t it?

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RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET

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Directed By:
Rich Moore & Phil Johnston
Screenplay By:
Phil Johnston & Pamela Ribon
Production Company: Walt Disney Pictures & Walt Disney Animation Studios
Distributed By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

It has been a long, long time my readers and for that, you do have my apologies. Life threw enough curveballs my way that frankly, the very idea of continuing this blog felt more like a chore than a delight. I was, quite literally on one spectacularly awful day, burnt out. Then, I got into a conversation with a friend and following that conversation, I had gone to see a film and following that film, I’ve found once wispy candle-flame is back into a raging inferno once more. In other words…

I’m back but contrary to before, there will be no rules, no adherence to specific patterns, and no set schedules. I’ll update when I can with whatever I can though I’m sure certain theme of posts will be closely following this one. The being said, let’s start the review of Disney’s newest animated feature film and arguably the first official sequel to a animated feature film, Ralph Breaks the Internet.

I say first because of reasons that’ll detract from this film’s review something fierce so that’ll follow at a later date. Now, on to the review proper!

Animation

I’d argue that it is Disney but in recent years Disney has had some fairly good, if not equal, competition in recent years in the computer animation department but if there’s a few things worth mentioning it’s this. Wreck-It Ralph the film is six years old and in some ways, that shows in this film because as we all know, technology these days have a lifespan of what feels like only mere months before the next hot new product comes along that puts its predecessor to shame.

Ralph Breaks the Internet was no exception to this as rendering technology had updated to such a degree that pretty much everything that was reused for the sequel, from environments to characters, had to be touched upon to match the degree of their current rendering systems. It’s not painfully obvious if one has a considerable amount of time between the two films but if you are like me and happened to watch the first film before the sequel… Well, it’s nowhere near the same degree of difference as the likes of the Toy Story films but it is there.

With Wreck-It Ralph, we saw how video games, or at least those of the arcade variety, are brought to life and how they live and function when the arcade closes. The interpretation of the Internet is not strictly speaking the most original that I’ve seen, because believe me when you’ve seen Japan’s idea of how the Internet looks/functions…

Oh boy…

Anyway, much like its predecessor, the only thing that really “fails” about the Internet is portrayed is that for all that it teases at more recognized websites like Google or Amazon, the only places we truly explore are websites that are, for lack of a better term, expy of those same sites. Knowsmore and Buzzztube are obvious references to Google and Youtube with minute differences with the former being a slowly shrinking and admittedly obsolete website and the latter a new and seemingly “easy” way to make some serious digital cash.

Just as before with Wreck-It Ralph, I sincerely wished that Ralph Breaks the Internet explored more of this most literal World Wide Web of places but, more importantly, that some majorly well known online games made some kind of appearance. No joke, the only online game we see is the far too aptly titled Slaughter Race which in itself does not appear to be that bad a game but, c’mon, there was such prime opportunity here for some kind of World of Warcraft or even League of Legends cameos!

Though, to be fair, considering the sheer amount of trouble there had been just to make the opening and closing scenes of the “Bad-Anon” meetings in Wreck-It Ralph, one can only imagine the kind of henpecking and nitpicking that would result in any other major companies being involved in this film.

No joke, one of the more “sensible” disputes that arose from that scene was Sega and Nintendo constantly at odds with each other over the size of their respected villains, which digressed to such a point that they had to be called up and told that said characters were now gargantuan in stature so could we please agree to disagree get them to a reasonable size and move on thank you very much.

Cameos

As one would expect, there are a plenty of these to be had in the film, predominately in the moments taking place in the arcade. Some characters make a longer appearance than previously or, in some surprising cases, more openly than before. Case in point, Sonic the Hedgehog actually talks to Ralph and Vanellope, explaining to them what “Wi-Fi” means and what it represents which I feel is a rather nice nod to the fact that Ralph actually was in a Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Yeah, no joke, Ralph was in the game Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed which was, even more ironically, a go-kart racing game. Why Ralph was chosen instead of Vanellope, I’ve no clue but there you go.

Anyway, aside from Sonic’s increased speaking role both at the beginning and ending of the film, some Street Fighter characters and a few other game characters are given more of a spotlight. For reasons that frankly escape me, Chun-Li of Street Fighter has a surprisingly larger amount of screen-time compared to her literal background cameo in the last film. Again, no idea why but I’m not complaining. Thanks to the aforementioned beginning and ending scenes, I’ve no doubt a few fanfictions may crop up featuring her and a few other characters.

Those in the Internet… well, aside from the “Oh My Disney” website, which I will be touching on just give me a moment, if one counts the backgrounds where websites appear either fully or in bits of advertisement, there is certainly far more than one would expect.

Now, to the cream of the crop, the Disney Princesses and other assorted Disney characters featured in the “fan website.” Not going to lie, there is a LOT going on in this website with far too many characters to try and spot without obsessive usage of the pause and rewind buttons. I swear there was at least one character in the background that was clearly traditionally animated and many more that I could name but there is one person I think is worth a quick mention.

One of the aspects of the Internet is the “netizens,” which are digitalized avatars of the actual person behind the computer screen. One of these netizens seen in the Marvel Comics section of the site is none other than Stan “The Man” Lee himself. Whether this was planned from the start or a last minute addition done for his recent passing… nice touch Disney. Nice touch.

Now, to the Princesses, oh boy, where do I start? I suppose the bitter portion first. What we see in the trailers is a generous chunk of what we see in the film proper with only a few tidbits followed by a crowning moment of teamwork the likes of which had me guffawing like a loon throughout the whole thing. I shan’t spoil it for anyone but I will say this. That question that Rapunzel asks Vanellope to certify her princess status? That comes back into play in a way that is nothing of hilarious.

Story

NO SPOILERS here beyond what can be seen already on the many, many, many trailers out there but I will say this. The overall moral of the film is not altogether an original one though, to be fair, there are few morals that haven’t been done seven ways from Sunday as it is. That being said though, the way it is told is distinct with Ralph going through a heck of a journey to become more of what he was, which leads me to a point of dispute I’ve seen/heard from others who’ve seen this film namely, the way that Ralph is portrayed as being either too childish or too idiotic.

Let’s take a moment to analyze the character of Wreck-It Ralph. First and foremost, he’s an arcade game character that was made in 1982. More on point, he’s a villain whose entire motivation stems from the fact that a building was put up in the place where his home, a literal tree stump, used to be. Now while a game character is clearly not defined by their code, or as Zangeif himself so eloquently put it, “being a bad guy does not mean being a bad guy,” Ralph is a creature of habit.

For thirty years he’s played the role of villain in his game and rarely, if ever, left it for the arcade proper beyond the game Tapper’s and by his own admittance to Vanellope at the start of the film, he doesn’t really have any true motivation to being more than what he is. Following his gaining an actual friend in Vanellope and the respect of his game’s NPCs and hero, Ralph’s happy with what he has and doesn’t desire or want for more.

That or he has the patience of a saint considering it took thirty years of being treated as a literal bad guy and living in his game’s equivalent of a dump before he reached his wrecking point.

Bad puns aside, Ralph’s first and really only friend is Vanellope. Sure, he gets along better with the likes of Felix and other characters in the arcade, but Vanellope is the only one that he personally sees as being “his” and for someone whose only other personal objects include an old tree stump and a handmade medal by the aforementioned best friend… Well, can one hardly disbelieve that Ralph would do anything to keep Vanellope by his side?

As to Ralph’s reaction to the comments of his videos on Buzzztube… I have been told that I can be blunt with my observations and at times lacking a certain degree of tack. I’m not ashamed of this nor do I ever want for anyone to feel such when commenting on something be it negative or positive. It isn’t wrong to tell the truth but it is wrong to tell it in a way that is purposefully meant to be hurtful or to simply hurt for the sake of hurting. I shan’t repeat the comments I saw in Ralph Breaks the Internet but I will credit Disney for showing just how comments can both inspire and bring down those that they’re aimed for.

Score

Overall, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great film and one that I wholeheartedly recommend to any fans of the original or of Disney films in general. Is it the best animated film ever? Well, that’s a matter of personal opinion really and as for me, myself, personally… If this era of Disney Animated Feature Films is to be called “the Resurgence” then that name still applies with Ralph Breaks the Internet. Of this era of films, I’d say this film sits… pretty much at the top with its predecessor.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the other films that have come out in this era but, in point of order… Live action films are a separate category altogether, the same with Pixar, and as for Walt Disney Animation Studios, aside from Zootopia and, arguably, Big Hero 6, most of their recent films are based on long established stories. Told in different and distinctive ways sure and ones that have solidified themselves in the hearts, and in Frozen‘s case our ears, for years to come. Wreck-It Ralph and Ralph Breaks the Internet follows Pixar’s example in creating an entire world and story out of a simple yet incredibly imaginative question.

What if video game characters are alive? This same question is expanded even further in the sequel with the interpretation of how truly alive the Internet has become.

As a whole among the entirety of Disney animated films… I’d say this film is a serious contender but would not likely make the cut of my personal top five unless I could “cheat” by pairing it with the original. However, if we are to narrow it even further in terms of being the best sequel to a film, Disney or otherwise, than all hail Ralph, may he forever continue breaking his way into our hearts!

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The Adorkable Dragon

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ELMA

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Human Identity:
Elma Joui
Member of: The Harmony/Order Faction
Realm: The Other World
Featured In: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid (2017)
Voiced By: Yūki Takada (Japanese); Rachel Glass (English)

It took a while but at long last I have concluded as to which of the dragons featured in the manga/anime series Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid I consider my personal favorite. It was no easy thing too considering the bemusement, and oftentimes utter hilarity, most of the cast generates in me. In the end, it came down to which dragon I would personally want to actually meet and, perhaps, befriend and upon realizing this did not actually shorten the list in any conceivable way went with the tried and true method of ye olde dart board.

A member of the Harmony Faction of Dragons and self-proclaimed rival of Tohru’s, Elma is unique among the dragons in Dragon Maid in that she does not live off the hospitality of humans. Instead, she lives entirely on her own and actually works at the same company as Kobayashi, even calling her senpai in thanks for Kobayashi teaching her how to do her office job.

Not good enough to be wanted/needed during the busier holiday season but hey, gold start for effort at least. This leads me to one of the more amusing, and frankly adorable, quirks that Elma has. While she is undoubtedly self-sufficient enough to not only find an apartment and place of employ entirely on her own, Elma can and has been childishly naïve at times too.

Her office job for example. While she managed to dress for the role and land a successful interview, which in Japan is no small task, she had absolutely no idea how to do the job she applied for. No joke, she didn’t even know what a computer was let alone how to turn one on. Heck, it was shown a few episodes later that Elma was under the impression that stage plays were still performed on stone stages like in Ancient Greece and Rome.

She is also somewhat naïve when it comes to fighting Tohru. Not to say that she lacks the same level of power of Tohru as, together, the two of them wiped out several islands during one of their fights and Tohru herself stated that Elma is the stronger of the two in sheer physical might. Rather, it’s that Elma can be tricked rather easily into forfeiting, losing, or outright canceling any such fight, oftentimes by way of appealing to her one weakness.

Food.

More specifically, deliciously sweet foods like cream breads, candies, Christmas cakes, and even fruit flavored toothpaste for kids. Her sweet-tooth is her biggest and most exploitable weakness and has caused her no end of frustration.

Aside from some of the cast, primarily Tohru and even young Kanna who readily, and easily, buys her off with promises of food, Elma has trapped herself on more than one occasion when she’s caught between good food deals and/or a wide array of choices to pick from. She is, hands down, the worst person to stand behind in line at a local ice cream shop as she can, and will, spend more than ample time trying to decide on what flavors to choose though, if presented with the opportunity, will choose all of them at once.

Heck, Elma was even outright banned from an all-you-can-eat buffet because she devoured over a hundred servings all in a single sitting.

As to her power, Elma is admitted as being Tohru’s better in strenth and that their styles of magic differ from one another though this is likely as a result of her being a member of the Harmony faction. Elma’s magical talents lies in more protective spells and even magical charms, which she admits are a thousand times better than a human made one.

Strangely enough, Elma also appears to be one of the few dragons that utilizes a weapon in human form, hers being a trident that appears to be made of the same stuff as her curled horn and may also be the tip of her tail made into a weapon. I say maybe because her tail seems to go back and forth from having a pronged tip to having a large flipper. As Tohru explained once, a dragon’s clothes in human form are actually their scales and thus have no need to be washed and treated like actual clothing. Doesn’t quite explain how they’re able to disrobe said “scales” and what-not but eh, magic.

Overall, Elma is one of my favorite characters, and easily now part of my top three favorite dragons, because she is what I’ve always imagined how a more harmonious dragon would act upon being introduced into our modern world. She can be scarily smart when the situation calls for it and childishly naïve at the same time. Oftentimes she’ll go into a situation expecting things to turn out either in the straight and honorable fashion, particularly in her “duels” with Tohru, or with the belief that ages-old traditions and methods are still in place.

Whether or not the situation works in her favor or against her, Elma does her absolute best to try and solve it on her own but is not so prideful that she will initially reject any help offered to her, even from a “lowly” human. Yet, the one aspect of Elma that I find to be the most endearing aspect of her character is the one that is most often used for comedic effect, that being her affection for food. Specifically the fact that Elma has both a sweet-tooth and a weakness for flavorful foodstuffs and drinks. While I can’t claim to have read, or watched, every variation of draconic creatures in fiction, I can say that Elma is, thus far, one of two dragons that I know of that has this distinctive adoration for quality foods.

In most depictions, a dragon’s appetite is quite ravenous but severely limited in its scope and overall application. Oftentimes, it is used as a means of further impressing a dragon’s danger to the human populace either because of its choice of diet, commonly human virgins in most western tales, or the sheer abundance of what they eat. So you can imagine my delight at seeing a dragon like Elma whose weakness for food is simply for the flavors rather than the food itself

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“You’ll get no help from me. Right here and now, show me what you’ve got!”

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EMIYA & Rin Tohsaka

ArcherUCending
Main Media:
Anime/Manga/Games
Shipping Type:
Quasi-Canon
Ship Name: None
Primary Moments:
“Unlimited Blade Works” Path

First off, apologies for the longer than usual delay. Both life and computer issues took me by surprise but as a sincere apology for my lack of content, there will be another post later this week!

I’ll admit, this one was a hard one for me and honestly came down to several tosses of a coin and the occasional roll of the dice. In a visual novel like Fate/stay night there is no “official” ending though there are favored paths to take and some that are, generally speaking, considered as being the canonical path given the various renditions of said path. While I myself am a sucker for the shipping of Shirou and Arturia, the relationship between EMIYA and Rin brings far more smiles to my face.

… That and it won the coin toss.

Now, while some may argue that EMIYA is in fact Shirou many more would also argue to the contrary, including the two men in question. Shirou is, for lack of a better word, distorted in his views. Damaged in ways that a normal and frankly mortal lifespan could not fix. He is, by the very definition of his own magic and soul, a sword. A sword forged in the fires borne from all the sins of mankind before being quenched by hope. That is how a sword like Shirou Emiya is forged and likewise that is how such a sword can be broken and made anew.

Though Rin will strive to make him value himself, to put his needs above those of others, it is shown in the anime adaptation of their route that Shirou will still inadvertently follow the same path as his future self, though whether or not he will forsake, or change, his ideals in the same manner remains to be seen.

As for me, I am of the opinion that EMIYA is still Shirou insomuch that he is a Shirou who has become more human in his servitude as a Counter Guardian and through the bitter realization that their “borrowed” ideal to save everyone, to become a Hero of Justice, means that in order for someone to be saved, they must first be in danger and that, more often than not, the act of saving one life means ending another in its place. He is a Shirou whom has become more “alive” in death and is able to better sympathize, and emphasize, with people. To a degree of course.

Though worn and weary to the point that he sought to end his own existence by causing a temporal paradox of killing his past self, EMIYA is still… to put it blutnly, a smarmy jerk who tongue is just as sharp as his swords if not more so. He can, has, and will gladly get under Rin’s skin at every available opportunity he has to do so, which I thinks suits their relationship perfectly.

True, there are moments when Shirou has managed to catch her off-guard, with the crowning moment being a tie between the actual confession or the deal he struck with Lancer and Rin’s reaction to said deal. EMIYA would undoubtedly produce more of a reaction out of her and has done so both in canon and the far-from-canonical but oh so humorous Carnival Phantasm anime.

Aside from being a possible grate on her nerves, I’d like to think that EMIYA would keep Rin from becoming too much of a magus. For those not familiar with the series, a “true magus” is often considered as one who will do whatever is necessary to further both their familial magecrafts and to reach the Root of the World, otherwise known as the Akashic Records which are believed to hold the entire knowledge of the World both Past and Future.

Rin is a magus and for all her pride and ability, she is not what in the world of Type-Moon would call a “first rate” magus because she still retains human decency and morality. This in itself is frankly utterly astounding given that the kind of man her father was and later the man who became her guardian following his death.

That’s not to say that Rin hasn’t slipped in her ways. She was both willing and able to try and kill Shirou as a rival mage despite him having little to no actual magical, or martial, prowess of his own and was, for all intents and purposes, someone whom accidentally bumbled his way into the Holy Grail War.

Given what he has seen and done, EMIYA would NOT allow Rin to follow such a path and she, in turn, would keep him from straying too far down his own path of self-loathing. As I said earlier, she would, and quite likely could manage to make Shirou like himself, to put some worth to his well-being, and would succeed far more in EMIYA than in his present, and mortal, incarnation.

The two of them being Master and Servant adds some unique touches to their relationship as well. For one, EMIYA, despite the skills his Class of being an Archer allows him, would still require her prana to continue to exist and likewise Rin, being something of a control-freak, would not allow him to stray from her side for long and not without some serious retribution in the form of demeaning labor or other such tsundere antics.

 

 

Wo Ai Ni…

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RANMA & SHAMPOO

Ranma ½ - OAV 01 - Shampoos Sudden Switch Curse of the Contrary Jewel_Feb 14, 2018 at 5.54.05 PM
Main Media:
Anime/Manga
Shipping Type:
Quasi-Canon
Ship Name: Ranma x Shampoo
Primary Moments:
Episodes 15-17 of Season 1 & OVA 1

Ranma ½ is an anime rife with potential ships and is one of the few series to have concluded without any “official” pairing coming to fruition though it is heavily implied that Akane Tendo is his bride-to-be sometime in the far future. However, I am of an entirely different opinion on that and I’ll explain why… in no specific order!

Let’s start with Ranma’s, arguably, first fiancée Ukyo. I say arguably because while Genma Saotome has sold his son’s hand in marriage for less, or more, many times before and since, she is one that has refused to back down from her claim and one that holds the least amount of ground among the girls.

True, she is the “cute” fiancée, a fact even I can’t deny, but one must consider with her, and all of the girls, what kind of a life she would want with Ranma if she were to have him as a husband. Ukyo’s whole life, and even her combative style, is focused around food and for all that she is a top contender in the martial arts that is not the kind of life she wants for herself. She wants to keep on the family traditions of serving food to the masses and for all the skills Ranma has, cooking is… probably one of them but not to her level. More to the point, it would be highly likely that Ukyo would want for him to be the stay-at-home parent and while she would no doubt encourage, or even welcome, him opening a dojo and taking on students, she would not welcome the idea of him seeking to better himself by taking extended training trips away from home.

Taking aside any potential futures though… Ukyo has been and forever shall be Ranma’s friend. For all his interactions with her and for all that he considers her as the “cute” fiancée, he considers her as “one of the guys,” a truer bro than Ryoga, though considering the lost boy’s temper that’s hardly surprising. When asked directly about her feelings towards him, by the man himself no less, Ukyo is able to confess to him that she does love him… shortly before smacking him silly out of embarrassment before running off. That… while funny is really kind of sad too.

Kodachi… is insane. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Either a direct hereditary trait passed down the family line, considering her father’s own branch of madness this holds a lot of ground, or quite possibly thanks to the raising style of her father. Either way, she is no way, shape, or form an actual fiancée of Ranma’s beyond her own declarations of such. There is little in common between her and Ranma aside from her being a practitioner of martial arts gymnastics and one whom is not above using dirty tactics to win. Admittedly, Ranma’s own particular brand of martial arts follows similar trends but even he has a line that he won’t cross when it comes to foul play. That aside, Kodachi is so deep in denial that Ranma and “Ranko” are actually one and the same that she will, and has, ignored the evidence to the contrary.

Akane… is by all rights the “right” fiancée but the cons far outweigh the positives. True, hers is the oldest proposal made by Genma, though arguably it states any daughter of the Tendo family, but it was made specifically with the idea in mind that the two heirs would bring the separate schools together. The problem is that Soun didn’t really hold up his end of the bargain and Genma held his far too much. Akane is more of a straightforward brawler and has rarely won a straight up fight against a martial artist at Ranma’s level and Ranma himself was raised with the mentality that girls aren’t as strong as boys but, more to the point, to be as abrasive as possible to his opponents to get them to trip up and let their anger control them.

This leads me to Akane’s temper which, to be fair, is not the absolute worst ever seen in this type of situation but it is, rightfully, considered among the top three and with good reason. While there are plenty of times and reasons for Akane to be angry with Ranma, the extremes she goes to in displaying said anger is at such a point that frankly any kind of potential relationship they have has long since been made toxic.

Any kind of argument the two would have would resolve itself with Ranma unintentionally, or purposefully, insulting her and her striking him in retribution. While the manga ended with the two of them nearly getting married, and interrupted by the rest of the cast, the two of them have never outright stated their feelings to each other without something either stopping them or being a magical cause behind said words being spoken in the first place.

The final nail in the coffin though is the complete lack of trust that Akane has in Ranma. Rare is a moment he can spend with another girl, especially one who falls under the fiancée category, without her immediately jumping to conclusions of what he was doing and whom he was doing it with. His curse and his general attitude in and outside the fields of battle only add fuel to this proverbial fire though the first is hardly his fault and the latter… Still mostly his fault but he does try at times.

Last but not least, my own personal choice of whom I believe would be a better bride to Ranma, Shampoo of the Joketsuzoku, or Chinese Amazons. Of the girls, Shampoo is the only one that I believe capable of being Ranma’s equal, and better, in all the ways that matter. She is a warrior and a martial artist, born and raised to be such since before she could walk, just the same as Ranma, and while I doubt that most of the girls see themselves continuing their practice in combative arts, Shampoo does and would undoubtedly want Ranma to bestow upon their children the same skills.

A popular misconception of Shampoo’s tribe is that strong men are little more than breeding stock, a sentiment that Ranma himself might also share though this is far from the truth as Shampoo’s own would-be-fiancé Mousse can attest. More to the point, a number of Ranma’s strongest attacks are techniques from Shampoo’s tribe and by her ancestral matron’s own admittance, there is several more that he could learn and perhaps create on his own.

While Ranma is undoubtedly shy and frankly far from capable of admitting let alone truly understanding his own feelings towards the girls, Shampoo has no qualms in showing hers at every available opportunity, putting Ranma on edge at times simply for the fact that he has no idea how to react to such physical signs of affection as anything even remotely resembling such things were secret, or not-so-secret, attacks made by his father in the name of “training.”

While some could say that Shampoo’s sudden affection for Ranma, and reasoning behind said affection, can be based on her culture and how she was raised, one must also remember that for all that she is capable of putting a more permanent end to her rivals, something that her culture has no qualms with, she never resorts to doing so outright. Oh yes, she’ll use whatever advantage she can, be it magical or mundane, but she has yet to consider more extreme measures.

In point of fact, one particular magical artifact unintentionally used by Shampoo, is another prime example of how strong her love for Ranma is. The Reversal Jewel that, when worn upside down, turns any love and affection the wearer has for someone into a powerful hatred any like any other. Mousse himself states the degree of hatred that Shampoo displayed whilst under the effect of the Reversal Jewel is over a 100 times greater than what she has shown him and considering how frequently she can and will kick his butt, that says a heck of a lot.

The mere act of Ranma putting his hand on her shoulder out of concern, which would normally send the girl back flipping over the moon, set her into such a rage that she nearly beat him senseless before he had a chance to react and defend himself. This is the same guy who has managed to steal chestnuts out of an open fire without burning himself in order to increase his punching speed.

More to the point, for all that he is frequently declared as being hated and loathed by Akane, it was Shampoo stating as such that spurred him into trying to pursue her and renew her affections in him and for all his emotional and mental baggage that he has… Shampoo is able to not only sneak into his room undetected but has shown herself capable of being able to fall asleep on top of him with him being none the wiser and, again, we are talking about a guy who was repeatedly attacked by his father in his sleep and would and has defended himself from anything he remotely considers threatening even whilst deep asleep.

Last, but not least… Shampoo is the only one of the girls to keep showing her affection towards Ranma no matter what form he is in. That in itself puts Shampoo whole leaps and bounds ahead of the pack because as mankind is slowly starting to learn, love knows no gender. Though far from the most popular of pairings out there, there are quite a few sensibly written fanfiction out there that show how such a pairing would result, particularly in the works of “rewind gone nuts” on Fanfiction.net, specifically the story, or rather collection of stories, called Another Rainy Day in Nerima wherein Ranma, shortly after the events of the Reversal Jewel, finds himself in a magic shop and ends up purchasing a magic mirror that shows him all of the “what-could-have-beens” alongside potential futures that would have resulted in them.

There’s a fairly even split of Ukyo and Shampoo among the stories, and even one that puts Kodachi in a more sane light, alongside a few other notable one-shot girls that Ranma encountered. If not for the romance, I recommend this story for the imaginative interpretations it takes in the slightest of alterations to major, and minor, events.

There’s something that’s been bothering me…

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PICCOLO & ANDROID 21

21 & Piccolo
Main Media:
Video Game, Fan Works
Shipping Type:
Fanon
Ship Name:
None
Primary Moments:
Dragon Ball FighterZ (Story Mode)

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for Dragon Ball FighterZ from the minor (and admittedly already spoiled via trailers and fan art) to the extreme (via actual playing of the game or watching various videos posted on YouTube). That having been said allow me to try and explain just how this, of all possible DBZ pairings, come to fruition.

Now, to be fair, this ship is a new one for me having been out on the waters for all of a few days at best and one that I admit is likely to be the only ship in an otherwise empty ocean. Admittedly, there was another pairing in the Dragon Ball franchise that I had intended to talk about (and still might) but this one takes precedent because it’s one that I don’t anyone could have ever expected.

As stated above, this pairing is entirely fanon and not in any way supported in actual gameplay save for two particular instances that led to much thinking and speculating on my part. See, one of the common aspects in Dragon Ball FighterZ is that certain characters will have a brief conversation with each other when they are put into certain teams or facing unique opponents.

Piccolo is tied with Android 18, whom is arguably the “lead” character in the Android Arc of the game, with the most conversations with Android 21.

Now, let’s be clear here, Piccolo does not get embarrassed easily. I can count on one hand the number of times that he’s been embarrassed enough to actually try and hide his face from someone and give them a gruff but far from stern brush off like he did Android 21. More to the point though, take a look at Android 21’s fighting stance. It is exactly like Piccolo’s own and not one that she chose to mimic this one time. She’ll either strike this pose or one similar to Frieza’s “come at me” pose minus the atypical sneer or cajoling smirk.

More on point however, note Android 21’s surprise that Piccolo was ever an enemy. While all of her memories are gone, I do not doubt that Dr. Gero’s super-computer was lacking in any detailed information on Piccolo or his father and things the two of them had done. Either she never bothered to read up on that, which I doubt given she went ahead with her “flash clone diet” plan, or she simply didn’t believe in the accuracy of that information.

Following that confession of him just being part of a bunch of crazy former enemies, Android 21 isn’t surprised or confused. She admires Piccolo’s honesty and the fact that he, who was once evil, can now be considered as being part of a group of friends, perhaps even family. She even thanks him when he tells her to not think about the past and to focus more on the here and now and I swear to Shenron himself, every time I see that scene, a part of my heart just clenches.

The next unique conversation Android 21 has with Piccolo, and Tien, has the namekian confessing his concerns about her wellbeing. Namely that he is worried that if they destroy her evil side that she too will perish with Tien adding that such a result is not worth pursuing.

Given Piccolo’s own distinct history, it’s not that surprising that he would consider this notion but for him to actually grow concerned enough to voice it? To someone that by all accounts he has only known for an extremely short amount of time and has absolutely no reason to trust given her previous actions (evil side’s fault or not)?

Let me remind everyone that this is the same person who thought it was a good idea to hurl a recently traumatized half-saiyan child whom had only just lost his father at a freaking plateau in order for said child to realize his potential as a fighter. Hands down Piccolo is the only character to really grow and change as an individual and not just in terms of raw power and fighting potential.

I’m looking at you Goku.

Then there’s the fact that he immediately picks up on her doubt of it still being a good thing were she to survive while her evil side perishes. No hesitation, no grunt of dismissal, frank and open concern of her and her feelings.

This and more was what lead me to why I think that Piccolo and Android 21 would make a good pair. As a species, namekians are technically hermaphroditic in that they can reproduce asexually and alter the genetic code of their young to be distinct in minor or severely drastic ways.

Piccolo himself is technically a near-perfect clone of his father and most of his older siblings were far more diverse in appearance. Despite being male, with eggs being chucked out via Birdo-style out of their mouths, they are not inclined to being physically attracted to opposing genders. Namekians also can survive purely on water and don’t require food though they can eat if they so choose.

Now a lot of this may sound like points against Piccolo and Android 21 being a good match for each other and in some ways, you’d be right. Namekians do not have mates and can have children entirely on their own, which in essence is actually a point of favor between these two. For all that has been done to her genetic code, it is quite possible that Android 21 can’t have children anymore, at least not in the way mundane humans can.

Considering her predominantly majin-like features and traits, it’s quite possible that she can only have children by way of “subtracting” from herself much like Majin Buu himself will eventually do in the far future as seen in Dragon Ball Online. Though Piccolo himself has not yet shown any desire for actual children, he has shown to be a far better father, and grandfather, than Goku has by the saiyan’s own admittance too, at least as far as being a better grandpa.

Given the chance, I have no doubt that Android 21 would leap at the chance to take care of Pan alongside Piccolo and the two of them would eventually grow closer as a result.

As to the sustenance issue, Android 21 outright confesses in her interactions with you (the player) that she wants to find a means of ending her hunger permanently and I have no doubt in my mind that if she asked him, Piccolo would offer what assistance he could. In that same vein, she could open his palette up to foods he has likely never even seen before let alone eaten, especially given the company he tends to keep.

Heck, her trying to get him to taste new foods for the first time might even get the guy to stop hanging out in wasteland and actually try to be a part of civilization again though considering just whom his parent, and better half, Android 21 might have a bit of a fight on her hands there.

All in all, this is not a pairing that will ever truly happen beyond the realms of my own imagination, but it is one that I enjoy nonetheless and sincerely hope to see brought to fruition among other, far more talented artists than I.

And my dream… is worth fighting for!

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ANDROID 21

Toyo_21_art
Real Name: 
Unknown
Android Model Type: New
Year of Activation:
774
Character Design By: Akira Toriyama
Voice Actress:
Houko Kuwashima (Japanese) Jeannie Tirado (English)

WARNING: This review will contain SPOILERS for the game Dragon Ball FighterZ, so if you want to remain spoiler free until you complete the game yourself, I sincerely suggest skipping this post. That all being said, let’s begin with the biggest spoiler of them all.

Android 21 is not an android.

Of course, this is far from world-shattering news as a great many “androids” created by Dr. Gero are anything but. In truth, Dr. Gero created four distinct android types; Mechanical, Biotechnological, Bio, and New Type.

As one can surmise, the Mechanical models are all true androids being entirely machine inside and out though their appearances and mannerisms can and have been based on actual people. The Biotechnological models could be more fittingly labelled as cyborgs or even modified humans as some, like Androids 17 and 18 have little to no robotic parts and have simply had their organic matter reconstructed. So much so in fact that while they don’t need to eat, they do still to keep hydrated and are incredibly long-lived due to their now slowly deteriorating cells.

Cell is, as of the time of this post, the only true known Bio-Android, whose body was constructed via genetic engineering. It is one of the many reasons why Cell, despite having been made by a majority of humanoid samples of DNA looks the way he does.

While Android 21 is similar to Cell in that she too is a genetically altered being, her creation differs from his own by one simple fact. Cell, for all that he was created to become the “perfect” fighter, culminating in a final form that had the potential to become stronger, is nothing more than a prototype. Though not stated outright, it is heavily implied that the same bio-engineering technologies and techniques utilized in his creation were then later perfected and used on her to make her a far greater powerhouse than Cell could ever hope to become.

That is, if that was Dr. Gero’s actual intent…

Android 21 was not created for war or for violence, but is, more likely, the end result of Dr. Gero trying his damnedest to ensure that the last person on Earth that he cares for will not die without putting up one hell of a fight. However, via intentional application or by a hereto unknown design flaw in the original augmentation and later bio-engineering process, Android 21 considers herself to be less than ten years old.

True, she is both physically and intellectually an adult, and a certifiable genius outclassing even Dr. Gero, but all of the memories of the life she had are completely gone but for certain feelings towards the man himself and the son they had lost that still echo faintly in her heart.

It is actually the sole reason she sought to reconstruct Android 16, because in her search of trying to find out who she was and what her purpose could be, she had found out that his template was based on her son and so wanted him by her side and told him, in no uncertain terms, that she wanted to treat him as family.

Like Cell, Android 21 is composed of all of the Z-Fighters, possibly even Future Trunks, alongside Frieza, Cell, and both versions of Majin Buu, the more amicable and friendly “Fat” Buu and his previous and far more violent “Kid” Buu form, which is considered as two separate entities thanks to Buu’s permanent absorption of Grand Supreme Kai.

Having Frieza’s cells, Android 21 is able to switch between her former human form and her actual true form pictured below. In either form, she has incredibly powerful regenerative powers, able to completely heal within seconds and thanks in no small part to the combination of cells from Piccolo, Cell, and both versions of Buu.

Of course, one must also take into account that thanks to Frieza’s cells and those of Vegeta, Goku, Gohan, Goten, and both versions of Trunks, Android 21 has not only an incredibly high endurance, but anything that forces her to regenerate only ensures that she receives an even greater boost in strength thanks to the saiyan Zenkai Boost that increases their power the more they are driven to the point of death.

Of course, that’s not taking into account the power she possesses thanks to the Majin Buus and Cell, namely her ability to turn people into sweets and eat them to not only further her regeneration, but grant her a boost in power equal to that of the eaten warrior.

Thus we get to the point where I try to make sense of Android 21’s “master plan” as Dragon Ball FighterZ villain but in truth, she didn’t actually have one. At least, not the real version of herself. Recall how I stated that Cell was utilized as a testing ground for the bio-engineering techniques and tools before being utilized on Android 21?

Well, here’s where things get really interesting… See, the Cell we know is not the Cell from the mainstream timeline. That one was destroyed whilst it was hardly more than an embryo by Krillin and Future Trunks while the one that is here is from an alternate future wherein he killed another version of Trunks from alternate timeline that… Okay, to put it simply, time travel shenanigans.

My point though is this. Without the means of testing out the bio-engineering tools and processes fully through Cell, Dr. Gero’s super-computer had no other choice but to utilize what it had learned to further enhance Android 21 and had, inadvertently, created an extreme flaw in her design.

Like Majin Buu and Cell, Android 21 can absorb people for energy and to enhance her own strength, but the combination of these cells alongside the faulty implementation resulted in those cells going haywire. Basically and contrary to Cell and Androids 17 & 18, Android 21 does feel hunger and while she managed to ignore that hunger for nearly a decade, it grew to be so powerful it actually generated a separate personality much like Fat Buu and his evil side.

To try and find a “humane” way to curb it, Android 21 created “flash clones” of all the Z-Fighters plus a handful of villains they had faced. Unfortunately, while the clones have all the skills and techniques of the originals, them having been rapidly aged up makes them less than ideal meals, mere “junk food” to the “organic” originals.

Eventually, Android 21’s evil side completely took over and went a step further by way of using the Namekian dragon balls to bring back Frieza, the Ginyu Force, Cell, and surprisingly Nappa, and transport them to Earth before utilizing a device created by Dr. Gero that would weaken all of the strongest fighters on Earth to a point where they would be “ripe for the picking.” She likely also released all of the flash clones as a means of drawing out the originals into the open and as something of a “snack” between actual meals.

Thankfully, Android 21’s evil side didn’t take into account that she also fit into that strong fighter category and was summarily repressed long enough for the true Android 21 to finish creating the artificial soul and dual linking system as another means of supressing her darker half and curbing her continually growing hunger.

From there… well, that goes into spoiler territory that I won’t delve into beyond this. That and the ending of the game, and Android 21’s story, is so damned bittersweet and tragic that I still get choked up on it…

Out of all the characters in the entirety of the Dragon Ball series, from the original fantastical story to the out-of-this-world Z to the often panned GT to the aptly named Super… Android 21 is my favorite character of the franchise, tied with the likes of Android 18 and Piccolo for a multitude of reasons.

But the one reason above all others, the very reason that put bade me to even make this character review in the first place… is that she wants to do good. Now, I don’t mean just in the sense of being a good person and possibly having a family again but in the most literal sense of the phrase. She outright says that when her evil side is dealt with, she wants to first try to find a more permanent cure for her hunger and from there go on to utilize the same technologies that created her for the betterment of mankind.

Do you have any idea how unbelievably rare that is for a genius of Android 21’s level, one whom perfected technologies far beyond anything anyone else had ever come close to completing, even the original creator, to actually be selfless with that technology?

I mean, this is the exact opposite of the “Reed Richards is Useless” trope! The trope wherein persons possessing the means of creating world-shaking technologies, refuse to allow those technologies to be utilized by the common people not because of some fear of the right devices falling into the wrong hands, but because it either never occurs to them to distribute them to the masses or because they simply don’t want other people to use them!

But Android 21, a being that is quite literally the most powerful being on Earth… Who has the potential to give even Lord Beerus a better workout than Goku… Doesn’t want to increase her power, doesn’t want to keep on being a fighter, or seclude herself away as some means of protecting people from the danger of her existence. She wants to fix herself to not be that dangerous so that she can go out into the world and help it and its people in any way that she can, however she can.

That’s… That’s just so…

… I have more stories than I can ever hope to remember. Seen heroes rise and fall, seen what the best and worst of people from all walks of life, from the fictional to the factual, are capable of… and this is the first time that I have ever truly, aboslutely, and fully been so endeared by a character of any kind, never mind one from a video game and one that is not meant to truly be an immersive story-line of RPG quality.

While there is no official confirmation as of yet, it is my sincere hope that not only will we see a continuation of the FighterZ game, be it a direct sequel or future DLC because the game really is that good… But that we may also see Android 21 back to the potential she could have had rather than the reincarnation route Goku was going for at the end of the game.

After all… the Android 21 of the mainstream timeline was the one constructed by the faulty data in Dr. Gero’s super-computer… Who knows what had become of the one in a certain alternate timeline…

Majin_Android_21_game_art

Is it business that brings you here… or pleasure?

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GHOST RIDER & MORRIGAN AENSLAND

mvci-ghost-rider-small
Main Media:
Video Game, Fan Works
Shipping Type:
Fanon
Dimension: Earth-30847 (Marvel vs Capcom Series)
Ship Name:
None (Though I call dibs on “Blazing Bat”)
Primary Moments:
Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite (Story Mode)

This first and likely one of the most cracked pairings that I like, this ship came about from the most recent addition to the Marvel vs Capcom franchise, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite. While this game (currently) has the smallest roster of the series in more recent years due in no small part to the legal shenanigans involving copyright of the X-Men franchise, MvC: Infinite has one of the best story modes I’ve seen in a fighting game series that, quite literally, had next to no actual storyline to begin with.

As to where this ship of mine comes about in the game proper, well, that’s quite an interesting bit of story there. It’s a bit of a long story but the short of it is that Ultron of Marvel and Sigma of Capcom attained two of the six Infinity Stones, specifically Space and Reality, and used them to forcibly converge the two universes into one and in a way that no one expected. Case in point, the Dark Dimension of Marvel and the Makai Kingdom of Capcom both of which are, in essence, realms that only the darkest of entities can survive and thrive.

In the days since the convergence (roughly 90 days by this point in the story) Ghost Rider, the Spirit of Vengeance, has at last come close to finding the force responsible for the theft of a million innocent and forgotten souls in the mortal realm. His appearance in the Dark Kingdom immediately draws the attention of Morrigan, a succubus and an S-Ranked Darkstalker of incredible power.

Now, a brief pause here so I can make a few things clear. While Morrigan is undoubtedly portrayed as her canonical self, there is no official canon for the likes of Ghost Rider in this setting beyond the fact that he is undoubtedly in his first and most recognized host Johnathon Blaze and has all of the powers and abilities that incarnation has.

However, by way of dialogue by Ghost Rider himself, we can deduce that though his priorities might be slightly tweaked by the Spirit of Vengeance, it is still Johnathon Blaze that’s in control of the body and has, quite likely, not reverted back to his mortal form either by choice or because the Convergence has resulted in a more permanent fusion between the two.

Upon catching up to Ghost Rider, Morrigan asks him whether it is business that brings him to the Dark Kingdom or pleasure. He answers that it is vengeance and she surmises it’s a bit of both. When Ghost Rider tells her of the theft of a million souls, she asks him to do something that I would never have expected anyone, let alone a demon, to do.

She asks him to look into her eyes and tell her what he sees.

Now, for those who are unawares, Ghost Rider’s greatest power and most powerful ability is the “Penance Stare” wherein he stars into his victim’s eyes and straight into their soul before inflicting upon them each and every hurt they have ever inflicted upon every innocent soul they’ve marred all in a single instant. Most mundanes are left catatonic from this.

In one iteration of Ghost Rider, he used the Penance Stare to defeat Galactus the World Eater, a being who was made from the sole survivor of the universe existing before the Big Bang and whose conscious and body fused with that preexisting universe’s cosmic sentience.

That Morrigan, a far from innocent being, would ask this of Ghost Rider is… is nothing short of insane but what happens next just drives the crazy to new heights. Ghost Rider grabs her, via arm around the waist might I add, and looks into her soul and states that while she is guilty of many things, she is not guilty of the crime he seeks to avenge.

Morrigan meanwhile actually swoons and starts to caress his jaw stating what she sees in him is a desire, a fire, unlike anything she has ever seen in any other being. Ghost Rider declares it to be the desire for justice and retribution and Morrigan teasingly asks if there’s not even a spark of emotion for her or herself via duplication magic.

Caught literally between two succubi, Ghost Rider simple walks away towards where he feels the thief is, leading Morrigan to declare that if he will not give her what she needs, then she’ll have to take it from him.

Another pause here for a bit of background on Morrigan to those unawares. While it is a general trait among succubi that they absorb the life energies, or souls, of men via intimate relations, Morrigan is not so distinctly limited. Rather she is part of a unique… sub-species? Next step in evolution? Either or, what allows her to live, what is essential her bread and better, is not life force or even souls but rather a liquid in her own body that is secreted whenever she is physically or mentally stimulated.

However, Morrigan is not one to find such excitements so easily and, like others of her kind, utilizes the dreams of mortals which secretes a similar liquid in their brains and absorbs that in place of her own, leaving her victims feeling like their dreams had been taken away but are otherwise still alive if incapable of dreaming properly for extended periods of time.

Given her apparent anger at Ghost Rider, it was more likely that she was actually frustrated that her advances were being so readily ignored by someone who had ignited such a passionate spark in her that she hadn’t felt in ages past.

At the start of their battle, Ghost Rider proclaims he has no desire to destroy her and she in turns asks him to dance with her then, in flame and in fire. That alone was a major bomb of impossibility dropped by Ghost Rider who has been noted on several past occasions to strike down anything even remotely considered a sinner and as I’ve said, Morrigan is many things but an innocent soul she is not.

Their fight is eventually interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Strange, Dante, and Arthur, with the devil hunter himself threatening Morrigan with his guns if she doesn’t stand down. She pouts, freaking pouts and says that she and Ghost Rider were only playing. When Dr. Strange reveals that they are in the Dark Kingdom looking for the Soul Stone, Morrigan admits that it is Jedah who has it and that she can lead them to him as she and he are “close.”

This might have to do with the whole “Lilith” thing but that’s a whole other kettle of fish I’d rather not dive into. Needless to say, her small remark actually manages to get a spark of emotion in Ghost Rider as she teases him not to feel jealous of her connection to the Dark Messiah to which the Spirit of Vengeance, the Engine of Hell, actually turns away and huffs.

I just… how? How is it that two beings whom are far from the word adorable as Pluto is from the Sun managing to make each and every one of their interactions feel as such to me? By all rights, these two should not click so well together as they do and yet, out of the many match-ups I’ve seen in the Marvel vs Capcom series, be they simple team-ups to subliminal pairings (I’m looking at you Captain America and Chun-Li), Ghost Rider and Morrigan together just seems to work.

Morrigan is either outright immune to Ghost Rider’s stare, which is incredibly unlikely as even a cosmic entity has fallen victim to it, or is innocent enough as to not be affected by it at all. Highly unlikely but considering most, if not all, of her crimes are tied to her “feeding,” something she has no choice but to do lest she starve and eventually die, may grant her some leniency. She has outright said that Ghost Rider has a desire in him she has never felt in any other being and is enticed by it enough that she will, figuratively speaking, dance with him at risk of her own life to feel even a spark of that pure exhilaration he inspires in her.

Ghost Rider, for all that his a driven and nigh unstoppable force of vengeance, actually pauses in Morrigan’s presence and has shown not only an open unwillingness to kill her, a demon whom he would normally destroy outright without a second’s hesitation. He actually displays a sense of jealousy at the mere mention of her having been close with someone else.

Though he admits that he will not be seduced so easily thanks to the deal he struck, he doesn’t outright deny that he couldn’t be and given that for pretty much the rest of Infinite’s story, he sticks next to Morrigan and she to him, both eventually becoming Custodians to two of the Infinity Stones entrusted to the Dark Dimension and departing together at the end of the climatic battle.

It’s not a pairing that could ever be canonized outside the game and one that’ll likely not remain in the next one or in any possible future updates, but for all the insanity that it generates in my thought processes, it is one that I cannot help but enjoy.

Springtime is in the air…

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A bit later than I had planned but given my weekly updating has been marred by the insanity that is the winter holiday season and an oral surgery the likes of which has instilled a fear of dentists in me that will likely haunt beyond the grave. Severe mental trauma aside though, it doesn’t change the fact that the winter holidays have come and gone, meaning springtime and all the joys it brings will soon be drifting on the wind with one holiday in particular leading the front. I speak of course of the holiday of Saint Valentines and being a sucker for romance and a shipper with enough vessels for an entire fleet…

Well, I figure it’s time that I do another top ten favorite pairings. As before these are my own personal preferences of pairing, which can range from the canon to the fanon to even a few with cracked hulls in the lot. However, before I start a whole new list, I think it’s only fair that I “rehash” one of my top contenders from my last countdown, Link and Zelda from The Legend of Zelda game series, specifically their incarnations from the most game Breath of the Wild.

As I said previously, Link and Zelda’s love, that of the original Hero and the creation goddess Hylia, is one that has been tried and tested in multiple differing lifetimes and, thanks to recent revelations, different timelines altogether. Yet, of those various moments in time, the budding romance between our hero and princess in Breath of the Wild, is far, far different from the norm.

A word of warning to those who have not played the game or its expansions, some small spoilers lie ahead.

LINK & ZELDA

BotW_Zelink_Dance.jpg

Main Media: The Legend of Zelda (Games & Manga)
Shipping Type:
Canon
Ship Name:
Zelink
Primary Moments:
Skyward Sword/Breath of the Wild (Game & Manga Prequel)
Secondary Moments: Scattered Throughout Games

Contrary to previous stories, Breath of the Wild starts with Link and Zelda already knowing each other. In point of fact, while he is designated as being the chosen Hero meant to wield the Master Sword in order to bring a (hopefully) permanent end to Calamity Ganon, Link is also assigned to be Zelda’s personal bodyguard. To serve and protect her as she goes through the trials to try and awaken the power of sealing that lies dormant in her blood. Of course, she also tries, and succeeds, in rediscovering lost and ancient technologies to try and aid Link and the other Champions in destroying Calamity Ganon once and for all. The key difference between her and Link’s relationship whence compared to previous ones though?

She hated him.

Matter of fact, she loathed him due mostly to the fact that he, rather inadvertently, served as a constant reminder of all her failures in awakening her own innate magical power. While she started off as being distantly polite to him at first, she soon started to lose patience with Link when he proved more than willing, and quite capable, of following her wherever she went despite her proclaiming there being no need for an escort. She even went so far as to tell him outright to stop following her and he abided it just enough by keeping out of her immediate way but followed her to the ends of Hyrule and back again.

Of course, that all changed when Link managed to save her from a trio of assassins and continued to protect her against the various monsters and creatures that were arising in greater numbers and frequency with the approach of Calamity Ganon’s awakening. She even goes so far as to admit to actually heeding his own given advice when it concerned the state of her horse.

Of course, things take a turn for the worse with Calamity Ganon’s appearance and hostile takeover of the technologies Zelda had sought to use against it but that delves a little too deep into spoiler territory for me. The main reason that I enjoy this particular set of incarnations of Link and Zelda as a couple is simply for the fact that they both actually grow closer as time goes on.

While Link still remains the silent and steadfast hero he atypically is, you see snippets of his character through Zelda and the other Champions’ eyes, and more directly through his own memories, which primarily feature Zelda in some way or another. In point of fact, when everything is all said and done, that is the first thing that Zelda asks of Link, whether or not he remembers her truly or knows her only by what he’s pieced together himself or by what others have told him.

For a “fairy tale” type of game Link and Zelda’s relationship in Breath of the Wild is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a breath of fresh air. Most of the games simply have hinted at a budding romance between our hero and princess, with Skyward Sword being one of the few to show any open affection between them and that one followed the common trope of “childhood romance” and had the added bonus of being (so far) the “first” game in the timeline, meaning that Zelda and Link were more directly connected to their previous selves than the ones from Breath of the Wild.

So while I’ll always sail proudly on the ship of Link and Zelda, I can say that the incarnations from Breath of the Wild stand at the forefront and I sincerely look forward to any possible continuations of these two be it new DLC for the game or a direct sequel.

The brilliance of the rising sun!

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TOMOE

ArcherGozenStage4
Real Name:
Tomoe Gozen
Titles: Archer Inferno
Origin: Japanese History
Illustrator: Shirabi
Featured In: Fate Grand Order
Voiced By: Kanemoto Hisako (Japanese)

As one can no doubt surmise from the title of their Class, Archers are those Heroic Spirits who specialized in long-distance combat. Not strictly by use of a bow and arrow mind you as guns and even specialized magical abilities or Noble Phantasms allow for their summoning as an Archer.

In the case of Tomoe Gozen in particular, she is one of the exceptional few whose abilities are best described as jack of all trades, master of all. No, that wasn’t a mistake on my part, Tomoe Gozen is simply so extraordinary that even when summoned as an Archer, she can still utilize her naginata and katana to the same degree of prowess as a Lancer and Saber.

In The Tale of the Heike, an epic recounting of the Taira and Minamoto clans for control over Japan, she was described as “especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed more deeds of valor than any of his other warriors.

Though not stated outright in any official records or epic retelling, it is a common belief that the blood of oni-kind flowed in Tomoe Gozen’s veins, a trait that shows most predominately in her fully ascended form and in her skill, Demon Magic that not only increases the attack power of her allies but also increases the strength of their Noble Phantasms for a far longer time than most other Servants are capable of granting.

Her second skill, Knowledge of Chaotic Battle, is not so named for the ability to take command of a military force but rather to utilize combative technique to persevere as a single warrior within an army. Tomoe is so skilled in the art of battles of many against many and one against all, that she and her allies can fight to maximum potential even when they are jumbled together.

Her final is perhaps the most distinct I’ve ever seen in any Servant yet. Aptly named as Adrenaline Rush, this skill was born from a type of self-hypnosis that Tomoe unwittingly performed whilst alive and as a Servant further amplifies her powers as a member of oni-kind.

Basically, it not only increases her health by several magnitudes, it also grants her the ability to overcome a mortal blow and continue fighting. However, for all her skills and all her combative prowess, there still remains one more telling aspect that best describes the sheer awesomeness that is Tomoe Gozen and that, my dear readers, is in her Noble Phantasm.

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Named Oṃ Ālolik Svāhā: Mantra of the Holy Avalokiteśvara, this Anti-Unit Noble Phantasm is one of the most brutal I’ve ever seen among Servants. Though the clip above shows just how overwhelmingly powerful the arrow that Tomoe fires is, it doesn’t allow one to hear the neck of the enemy Servant being broken as Tomoe twists their head around before launching them into the air!

Made from the grief of not being able to meet her last moments with Yoshinaka, and coupled with her inborn ability over fire and monstrous strength of an oni, Tomoe chants the mantra of the Aryavalokitesvara Bodhisattva that acts as the honzon of the Gichuji, the temple that held the memorial services for her beloved Kiso no Yoshinaka, before going in for the attack. As to the fiery inferno that resembles the intensity of the sun itself? That, my dear readers, is the literal physical manifestation of her feelings for Yoshinaka.

Passionate indeed.

Sheathed in the breath of stars…

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ARTORIA

Artoria4
Real Name:
Artoria Pendragon
Titles: King of Knights, King Arthur, Altria, Once & Future King of Britain
Origin: Arthurian Legend
Illustrator: Takeuchi Takashi
Featured In: Fate/stay night, Fate/zero
Voiced By: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese) Kari Wahlgren (English)

Sabers are Servants whom, as their class title might suggest, are masters of the blade and are easily among the top tier of Servants, particularly so in the Knight Class. However, most Sabers have a distinct advantage over other Servants in that it is not just the strength of their legend that grants them such power and skill, but that of their swords as well. Swords like Arondight, Caliburn, Excalibur, Clarent, and Durandal are some such swords and of those three of them belonged to a single person, King Artoria Pendragon of Camelot.

Who else could I pick but her really?

However… There is something entirely unique about Artoria even among the many multitude of oddball Servants that exist both genuine, Altered, and thematic. Whereas all Servants are either Heroic Spirits formed to fit the “mold” of their summoned Class, like Medusa as the Gorgon when summoned as an Avenger, or are ideas/concepts made real from the collective consciousness of humanity, like Nursery Rhyme as a Caster, Artoria…

Is both a living mortal and a Heroic Spirit.

Upon her dying breath, she made a bargain that in exchange for her services as a Counter Guardian to Alayashiki, the unconsciousness will of mankind and chief reason why humanity has not inadvertently caused its own extinction, she be granted the chance to attain the Holy Grail so that she may undo her own legend and allow another, and supposedly “better” king to rule in her place.

As such, most iterations of Artoria that exist in the Fate series reflects the “her” that is Artoria Pendragon mere moments from death in that all that she has in her actual possession as far as weapons go is Excalibur. One would argue that what else does she need but allow me to first go over her list of skills before I list what could well and truly make her a nigh unstoppable force of nature.

First and foremost, thanks to the machinations of the half-human wizard Merlin, the blood the Red Dragon of Britain courses through Artoria’s veins, making her magical output on par with that of a dragon’s own though she is far from being any type of magician. Instead, she has a higher output compared to most magi, a… factory to their lone machine in producing mana (magical energies) as it were. Her chief use of this is through the ability, Mana Burst that allows her to expel her mana into her body and weapon in a massive spike that can, at minimum, double her attack power in a single instant.

As a result of the dragon’s blood flowing in her veins, Artoria also has an incredibly high resistance to magic. So much so in fact that any spell that is not of equal or higher rank than her resistance, which sits at a whopping A Rank mind you, will not work. Heck, there’s a higher chance of her not even noticing the spell having been cast on her than the magic actually working on her.

Having been both a king and a knight, she has excellent skills in Riding, Charisma, and Instinct. Her Riding skill allows her to utilize anything short of a magical beast as a form of transport, meaning that she can pretty much drive anything on land, sea, or air so long as it hasn’t a mythological origin to its history.  Charisma allows her to bolster those under her banner, increasing their attack power significantly for quite a while. Instinct meanwhile allows her to read her opponents and grant her a higher chance of spotting, and exploiting, critical weaknesses.

As to weapons that Artoria could have had were she summoned as a proper Servant… Admittedly, Artoria’s spear, Rhongomiant, and her dagger, Carnwennan, would put her in the Class of Lancer and Assassin respectively as we’ve already seen with the, ah, “Lion King” incarnation of Artoria. Caliburn was lost to her when she was younger means that it can only appear in her grasp were she to be summoned as an actual Heroic Spirit but given that it is her younger and thus far less experienced self, it is not strictly Artoria at her best. Clarent was not only stolen from her “son” Mordred but was the very blade that ended her life in the first place and so is incapable of being summoned with her.

Really the one weapon that is missing from Artoria is not even a weapon at all. Rather, it’s the sheathe of Excalibur known as Avalon: The Ever Distant Utopia which grants Artoria instantaneous healing. It could heal any cut dealt to her before it even had a chance to bleed and even repressed her aging to the point that she still looks like the “kid” she was when she first drew Caliburn from the stone. It, like Clarent, was stolen from her but contrary to Excalibur, which was returned to the Lady of the Lake, Avalon is still out there in the world, just in a place that no one would think to look…

Moving on to Artoria’s Noble Phantasm… Technically speaking she has two. One, known as Invisible Air: Bounded Field of the Wind King, is a constantly active Noble Phantasm that hides Excalibur from sight as it is without a doubt the most easily recognized weapon in the entire history of mankind. Artoria can release it to either grant her incredible boosts in speed or strike her opponents from afar with a gust of wind akin to that found in a typhoon.

Excalibur: The Sword of Promised Victory is a Noble Phantasm without equal. It is a divine construct and sits as the absolute pinnacle of all holy swords and is often referred to as the Last Phantasm as it was forged by the planet itself as the crystallization of the wishes of mankind shortly before the end of the Age of the Gods and preceding the Age of Mankind. When unleashed it… well, just see for yourselves…

ExcaliburFGO

Yet, for all her prowess, for all her ability, and for all that she’s carrying around a literal WMD constrained to the shape of a sword, the primary reason why I would desire the aid of Artoria as a Saber has nothing to do with any of that. Not really. Rather, it is because Artoria is someone whom I know that no matter what forces may try to stand against her, would always strive to do what is right as best she can, in any way that she can.

That… and I’ll admit there are certain aspects of her personality that frankly amuse the heck of me.