Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Top Five Pairings That Will Never Happen

Written By: Platitude

Due to the nature of this article, it should be fairly obvious that there are spoilers abound.

    No, I'm not talking about crack-pairings. This is a list devoted to the honest-to-goodness ships that we all wished would occur, but just never bore fruit, either due to the series ending too early, or just because the work's creator was clearly ignorant of the fantastic romance that could develop. You know what I'm talking about, don't deny it. I know that you have an air of cold disdain to keep, but you cannot honestly tell me that there isn't a pairing that you shipped like a madman, only to have it broken apart right before your very eyes. Well, this is a testament to those events which have left otaku the world over in the fetal position with depression, those that have become the basis of thousands of FanFictions ranging from epic masterpieces to the kind of dreck that most people refuse to acknowledge in any way. 

Kiss her, you fool! KISS HER!

#5: Alucard x Seras Victoria

I guess a kiss scene would be a bit difficult with that height difference...
    Oh, come on. What? I don't even think that it's possible to watch Hellsing or Hellsing Ultimate without instinctively pairing these two. Yes, Seras has a little something-something going with Pip Bernadotte and I'm not even going to weigh in on how far down the romance well Alucard's relationship with Integra runs, but there's something about these two that's... I don't know, special? Perhaps the best way to break down Alucard and Seras' relationship dynamic is to compare it to that between Alucard and Integra. Both are reliant on a sort of master-and-servant hierarchy, but Alucard's role as Seras' "teacher" makes them seem to be far more intimate than that which Integra is involved with. 

I think I would prefer to stare down Alucard than Integra. Those glares that she gives are terrifying.
    Seras is constantly learning from Alucard, even if it is just by example. Even while the audience follows her transformation from a nervous police-girl into a fully-fledged vampire, she retains her identity throughout the series, even after her encounter with Zorin Blitz. Far and away, she is the easiest character to identify with, while Integra feels more like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. As integral (ha-ha) as she is to the plot, she is more of an unapproachable entity than a person that we can really grow alongside. This adds to the image that I have of Alucard and Integra's relationship being akin to a tiger chained to an immovable steel cube, which isn't the most romantic picture, for those of you who are having trouble following along. 

Close, but imagine that all the people in the background are dead, and the tiger is wearing a pair of sunglasses.
    What I mean to say is that Alucard and Integra seem like a fairly lifeless pair. Their relationship is just an agreement reached between the two to serve a single purpose, and it's devoid of any chance at evolution. Meanwhile, it feels as if there is room for something much deeper in regards to Alucard and Seras. Both are ageless, and there is always a point at which a teacher must recognize their student as an equal (or close enough to one). Alucard's possessiveness towards Seras had a good chance at maturing into the driving factor of a great, balanced relationship.

#4: Yusuke Urameshi x Botan

Kiss her, you-
... Oh wait, at this point, you hardly know one another.
    I was pretty surprised to see just how many people ship these two in the Yu Yu Hakusho community, but for as much that I love both the show and this duo, I cannot rightfully place them any higher than the fourth spot. As important as Botan is in guiding Yusuke's activities as Spirit Detective in the first season of the series, her influence slowly peters out, and by midway through the Dark Tournament Arc, she's been functionally reduced to the role of a comic relief character. For someone who carries the title of the "Grim Reaper," she spends an awful lot of time getting sidetracked, and her bearing on the plot's course eventually becomes negligible.

That being said, I can see why their relationship never really took off...
    So, why do so many ship these two as a couple? The simple answer is that she's the only female character in the entire series that gets any level of fleshing-out. For all of the franchise's banging on about Yusuke's infatuation with Keiko, I honestly don't see the appeal in her. She's like a big cardboard cutout, work-shopped to oblivion by the need to convince the audience of her good heart and strong character while maintaining as small of a screen presence as possible. If she gained a bit more of her own identity I would be satisfied, but she seems to only exist to give Yusuke a bit of extra motivation when the time comes, possessing no personality of her own.

I actually kind of ship Keiko with Kuwabara, because let's face it, he has no chance with Yukina.
    On the other hand, Botan is full of life, a near-constant companion to Yusuke and the rest of his group, but still capable of acting on her own accord. While her title of "Grim Reaper," as mentioned before is a bit arbitrary, it at least makes her feel like a human being with her own motivations and life outside what we see in the anime, rather than a puppy dog with attachment issues. Botan seems to be the only female in the entire show that can stand up to Yusuke (besides Genkai of course), and her firm yet kind nature provides a great foil for Yusuke's bombastic personality.

#3: Okabe Rintarou x Ruka Urushibara

I don't care. Yaoi shipping time!
    Yes, yes, yes, I do know that there is an ending to the Steins;Gate visual novel in which Okabe and Ruka end up together, but to be frank, that ending is the worst one in the entire game. Sure, my OTP does actually get out of the port for once, but that doesn't excuse awful character development. Plus, we're focusing on  the anime here. Unlike in Yusuke and Botan's case above, I am perfectly fine with Makise and Okabe being together. They both received great characterization that made their romance balanced, well thought-out, and above all else, realistic. They are truly the perfect couple.

Still, I was so very close to forgiving that ending's issues just because of this scene...
    However, stop with me for a moment a just think... How much better would it be if Okabe and Ruka were the central couple? 
    Actually, it wouldn't be much better. It would more than likely ruin the anime's story, as Okabe's love of Kurisu is kind of central to his motivations. 
    The reason why this pairing is only number three on this countdown is because in order for this couple to supplant the preexisting story, large chunks of the plot would have to be heavily revised in order for the relationship to seem relevant and believable within the canon. I guess that my preference of Ruka over Makise as Rintarou's lover boils down to me just liking his character more. That's not saying that Kurisu is a bad character, it's just that she's a bit shallow, especially with the amount of screen-time she gets. While Ruka plays a much smaller role, he has an arc that occurs a lot less frequently than Makise's pseudo-tsundere attitude towards Okabe; which is a style of romance that's only been in 30 or 40 shows that I can name. 

His eyes really are creepy in the visual novel, though.
    Seriously, Ruka's decision at the end of episode 18 was the most emotional moment in the entire series, coming just behind Mayuri getting Moeka'd in episode 12. 
    Then again in episode 13. 
    Then a few more times in episode 14. 
    That's really saying a lot too, as Suzuha had her own painful, gut-wrenching moment as well. Hell, the entire second half of the series was an emotional roller coaster, but what had me so invested in Ruka's predicament was that he was extraordinarily well-developed, and it was this depth and complexity that allowed his fairly unimportant situation to get at me just as much as the life-and-death scenarios Moeka and Faris were put through. 

This scene right here... Oh God... Absolutely shocking...

#2: Spike Spiegel x Faye Valentine

Hey, I can actually say "kiss her, you fool" this time...
    As legendary as Cowboy Bebop is, and for the amount of times I've banged on about how deserving the show is of its position as a true classic, I cannot rightfully claim that the series is without fault. For one, it's far too drawn-out in regards to an overarching plot. It repeatedly squanders the potential offered by its 26-episode run-time, preferring to wallow in unnecessary filler when it could have been adding depth to the anime's universe and pulling the audience further into the lives and relationships of the Bebop's crew. There are several ways that the latter could be achieved, and one method is to create a romantic focal point within the main cast. This would usually excite me about as much as a striptease would a BDSM fetishist, but I feel that it would actually work really well in this case. 

Speaking of filler, don't even get me started on this episode...
    Spike's attachment to Julia is, of course, one of his main motivations in his pursuit of revenge against Vicious. His ultimately self-destructive (well, Watanabe did say Spike probably lived) acts were probably some of my favorite moments with the show, but I feel that him also having to grapple with his growing feelings towards Faye would add another layer to his inner turmoil without shifting the series' tone too far towards that yawning pit of darkness and depression that so many shows with similar themes seem to fall into. Likewise, Faye's backstory was one of my favorites in the entire anime, and she could have also benefited from a romantic partner in her quest to uncover her lost past.

Now, doesn't this just embody the entire series?
    This pairing is ranked so highly on this list because of the benefits that a romance between the two would offer to the story, rather than forcing the plot to serve the couple. Plus, after all that the two have been through, what's to say that we give the pair a happy ending for once?

#1: Harima Kenji x Tsukamoto Yakumo

Remember the first pairing that you ever shipped? Remember when you waited for that confession to come? Well, this was the moment when it all came to a head for me...
    School Rumble's ending was a mess. Not the lighthearted, exciting mess that made up the rest of the series, just a plain awful mess that hastily tied up plot threads that required at least a few more installments worth of development and earned the scorn of the housemaid. Even so, this title was my introduction to Japanese pop culture, and therefore earns a special place in my "nostalgia circle," along with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Wars: Battlefront II. Therefore, against my better instincts, I still find myself attempting to rationalize the final arc of the series. Yeah, Harima ending up with Sawachika Eri was a bit of a pisser, but at least it was a realistic outcome, unlike whatever the hell happened to Tenma and Karasuma. I would even say that I'd come to terms with it, if it wasn't for what happened to poor, poor Yakumo.

... This is what happened. Incidentally, guess who I want to kill right now.
    Jin Kobayashi realized that he had to resolve Yakumo and Harima's issues quickly, and decided to do it in one of the most idiotic ways I've seen in a very, very long time. It wasn't as if their relationship was just played for comic relief throughout the series either. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the pair's interactions led to some of the most important character-building movements in the series. So, why did he decide to play it all off as a funny little aside? To put it simply, he had written himself into a corner.

Still my favorite panel in the manga, however.
    For the longest of times, I've held the opinion that School Rumble's greatest strength is its characters. Many began their lives as mere archetypes, and much of both the series' humor and growth stems directly from the aforementioned characters subverting their assigned roles,and we as an audience become capable of growing with the cast. By giving Yakumo depth, and then treating her development with near-contempt, Jin Kobayashi sealed his own creation's downfall. This pairing may not be the most well-known or popular, but it deserves the top spot simply because the series deserved far better than what it got May the end of this franchise burn in hell, and may the Gods smile upon me and retcon this. 
    While they're at it, I wouldn't mind another 50 volumes or so...

Honorable Mentions

    With a list as short as this one, there is no way that I'd come even close to featuring all of the couples that deserve the spotlight. That being said, here's a few that slipped from the net the first time around...

Kamina x Yoko Littner
(Gurren Lagann)
Dandy x Scarlett
(Space Dandy)
Vash the Stampede x Nicholas D. Wolfwood
Ritsu Kasanoda x Haruhi Fujioka
(Ouran High School Host Club)
Ichijou Raku x Seishirou Tsugumi

Born from a freak lab accident, Platitude grew up in an impenetrable section of the Amazon Rainforest with nothing but his wits and a flying, talking arapaima sidekick named Scuppernong.
After being discovered by South American cocaine smugglers, he managed to reach the United States with the help of a friendly local cartel and three condoms of pure, fresh-cut Colombian bam-bam. There, he financed a new life by betraying Scuppernong and selling him to an aquarist. Platitude immediately spent his $20.00 fortune on a bootleg copy of Boku no Pico, and a legend began... 
You can find his mad scribblings during his frequent bouts of insanity here

1 comment:

  1. I will open up this comment by freely admitting I haven't watched or read most of these. I'm ashamed of myself I know but I still have a few years to go before I can bear attempting to watch anything with vampires as a central thing again. Cowboy Bebop I started to watch and I could tell it was good but I don't know I just never got around to the rest and feel no motivation to.
    However, moving on from my absolute failure as a fan of manga and anime I have to say this sounds like a pretty good list. I was surprised to see something from Yu Yu Hakusho in here because I honestly didn't know that ship was so big. If any ship was going to be in here I'd have thought it would be Kurama/Hiei or Hiei/Kuwabara. I never saw Yusuke and Botan being anything other than good friends and I'm really glad they never ended up together. I don't see any actual chemistry here, yes she's the most fleshed out of our few female characters but their interactions, from what I can tell have always been platonic. Obviously a lot of people disagree with me. Oh well.
    My real point though is I think you've given Keiko quite a hard time here. While no she didn't get much development I think she does have more to her than you gave her credit for here, and her relationship with Yusuke is part of it. Yes Keiko is a little bit bland but I think she needs to be. Yusuke needs someone to balance him out and ground him. Keiko is a pretty enough but plain girl who does have a kind heart. She is also mature and serious when she isn't able to relax or getting too stressed out about Yusuke and therefore exploding with frustration and anger. Yusuke on the other hand is hot-headed, hardly the sharpest tool in the box and generally he needs someone more like Keiko to help calm him down and tell him when he's being an idiot. It almost doesn't matter that she didn't get much development because she was fine for him the way she was. And it's partly through her and the others that he matured as much as he did. Yes a lot more could have been done with Keiko but considering she had no special powers or anything, she would have ended up in the way of Yusuke and his team or generally useless in the fights. So it's probably a good thing she didn't get more screen time. At least in my opinion.