the_sun_is_up: Fugo and Abbacchio standing extremely close together while making model faces at the camera. (giogio - personal space invasion)
Previously, I’ve discussed the trend of bad-boy romances in girls’ media, and how it’s apparently really difficult for authors to write such romances in a believable and non-gross way. Sugar Sugar Rune isn’t one to buck trends here: Chocolat’s endgame boyfriend is Pierre, a black-hearted blonde ice king whom Chocolat defrosts and redeems over the course of the series. So the question must be asked: Does SSRune succeed with its bad-boy romance?

Uh...... kiiiiiiiinda?

I really like the romance in this manga, and in a lot of ways, it does a good job and is certainly miles better than many of its shojo peers (SO MANY MILES BETTER), but in other ways, it kind of falls on its face. It’s a mixed bag.

First, let’s look at Pierre’s character and his suitability as a love interest. He does have a lot in his favor:

a) He’s not a rapist. I really wish there was no need to even mention this, but a lot of shojo series have the love interest commit rape or attempted rape, or just be a sexually harassing creep, and then expect us to forget all about that once he gets redeemed. Pierre does nothing of the sort, so he gets a brownie point, because the bar is just that low.

b) He has a legit motivation for being horrible to Chocolat: he’s her mortal enemy, on the opposing side of a cold war that’s much bigger than either of them. He’s not just being cruel to her for his own entertainment (though there’s certainly some of that) — he’s doing it because he wants to beat her in battle.

Cut for more blonde bastardry - contains SPOILERS through Vol 6 )
the_sun_is_up: Kyoko and Moko from Skip Beat standing inside a heart shape, smiling cutely at each other. (skip beat - so adorable and gay)
In my last post on SSRune, I talked about how both societies portrayed in the series have their own narrow expectations about how young women should behave, and how the Queen contest throws our heroines into conflict with those restrictive ideals. But this pressure to conform doesn’t just harm the girls individually; it also drives a rift in their friendship, as each feels jealousy for the other’s desirable traits. Vanilla in particular starts out admiring Chocolat’s courage, reminiscing about how Chocolat was her only friend back home and would always protect and stick up for her, but that admiration quickly turns to bitter envy, leading Vanilla to turn to the Dark Side in a desperate bid to gain the confidence she desires.

Vanilla: I’ve always envied Chocolat-chan, who acts like a real queen. I finally realize my hatred toward her. Things between us can never be the way they used to be. [...] Everyone loved Chocolat-chan. Pranks, jokes, and big laughs... I was never good at any of them. [...] I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. So I can’t let anyone else have that position. To be the queen... that’s the only place I have left to belong.

Which leads into another big theme of Sugar Sugar Rune: Chocolat and Vanilla’s fight to maintain their friendship, even as the Queen contest does its best to tear them apart. This is a theme we see a lot in fiction and real life: in a patriarchal society, women learn to prioritize Getting A Man over everything else, which forces them to compete with other women (since desirable men are a finite resource), making it difficult to maintain any kind of female bonds or solidarity. In fact, you could interpret the Queen contest as a big metaphor for Life Under Patriarchy: In intensely male-dominated societies, the only way for a woman to gain power is by Getting A Man — seducing him, marrying him, being his mistress, or otherwise using sex to manipulate him into doing your bidding. Chocolat and Vanilla are competing for a position of power, but that power is only attainable by G-rated-ly seducing boys.

Whoever wins, or whoever becomes the queen, we will be friends forever. )
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
At first glance, Sugar Sugar Rune by Moyoco Anno is your typical Cute Witch tale. Best friends Chocolat and Vanilla are young witches-in-training and candidates to become Queen of the Magical World. They travel to Earth in order to collect hearts by getting boys to fall for them and then extracting those feelings of love in the form of heart-shaped crystals. Whoever collects the most hearts will become the next Queen.

So yes, this is a society that chooses its supreme leader based on how many boyfriends she can bag. If this sounds like a terrible idea to you, don’t worry: the author is very much in agreement.

What follows is a surprisingly intelligent and complex fantasy series that examines what happens when you pit two best friends against each other in a competition for power and popularity, a competition in which their chances of winning hinge almost entirely on their ability to conform to narrow-minded and restrictive gender norms. And it does so while also providing us with a pair of fleshed-out relatable heroines, a richly imaginative non-standard fantasy world, and Anno’s lovely josei-esque artwork.

The first hurdle that our deliciously-named heroines face is that the Magic World and the Human World have very different ideas of how a woman is supposed to act. Headstrong, confident, and aggressive, Chocolat was very popular in the Magic World where those traits are prized and admired, so she’s bewildered when all the human boys in her class find her too intimidating and avoid her like the plague. Shy, timid, and clumsy, Vanilla’s social life languished in the Magic World, but on Earth, her moeblob appeal makes her an instant boy-magnet.

Be true to yourself — it sounds great, but... )

My thoughts on this series are too lengthy to fit in one post, so: To be continued...
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
Some more Homestuck ponderings, in list form:

1. Why did Kanaya and Equius pick that particular moment to replace Tavros's legs? Why did they wait until after they'd finished the game and were stuck on the meteor thinking they were going to die soon anyway? Not that the robo-legs would have helped him in-game much, since Vriska's rocket-car and his animal-communing powers already took care of his transportation and combat needs respectively. My only theory is that Kanaya was sick of Karkat being sleep-deprived and cranky all the time, and she figured a nice bloody chain-sawing would terrify him into unconsciousness for a while.

2. Why didn't Kanaya kill *SPOILER* when she had the chance? 3x combo showdown )

3. How did the carpenter bots know what kind of house to build Karkat? Karkat's heritage )

4. Lately I've been spending a lot of time playing through the three Meenah-bound games from Act 6, Intermission 3. Like most people (I assume), I totally tuned out Kankri's endless word-vomit the first time around, but on a replay, it occurred to me that there was some pretty interesting world-building stuff buried under all that pompous bullshit, so I did my best to unearth it. Granted, I don't know how much of this stuff is canon and how much is just Hussie doing his keymash thing. But whatever, imma just roll with it.

Sexuality, lifespan, and the caste system )

5. Somebody on TV Tropes made an astute observation about why the trolls' storyline abruptly turned into a slasher flick: No more slime )
the_sun_is_up: A lovestruck Tamamin from Girl Friends making a boob-grabbing gesture. (gf - grabby hands)
Today I was taking a walk, and I got to musing about the fighting shonen genre. Now in Western culture (and I glean that Japanese culture is somewhat similar), we have this trope called A Man Is Not A Virgin, in which it's taken for granted that all post-pubescent male characters have already had sex at some point in the past, because if they hadn't, then it would be like soooo embarrassing you guys.

With that in mind, why are so many fighting shonen protagonists virgins? And not just regular virgins, but naive, oblivious, pure-as-the-driven-snow virgins, grew-up-in-a-male-monastery virgins, still-thinks-babies-come-from-the-stork virgins.

I realize that most fighting shonen series are minimal-to-nil on the romance subplot front, because teenage boys are not interested in reading about soapy relationship drama, or so I'm told. However I do seem to recall teenage boys being very interested in sex. It's one thing to have a shonen protagonist who has no steady girlfriend or hasn't noticed his female friend carrying a torch for him; it's quite another to have him be seemingly unaware that girls even exist and to completely avoid any sort of fooling around with the opposite sex.

Let's run through some examples: Ichigo — no girlfriend, and the only time he displayed interest in girls was when he freaked out at Yoruichi being a nudist; Goku — thought marriage was a type of food; Naruto — unusual in that he has a very loud crush on a girl, and his invention of the Sexy Jutsu demonstrates his interest in naked women, but since he raised himself, he still seems pretty naive on the birds-and-bees front; Sasuke — borderline asexual; Train from Black Cat — borderline asexual; Luffy — canonically asexual; Sousuke Sagara — okay his series isn't really fighting shonen, but I think he deserves a mention because he's a teenage action hero who is (you guessed it) borderline asexual. Light from Death Note is at least perceptive enough to notice the effect he has on girls and to exploit it for his own non-sex-related gain, but he's still another one for the borderline asexual pile. This pattern even shows up in GioGio's Bizarre Adventure — early in the arc we see Giorno at a restaurant with a bunch of girls swarming around him and offering to buy him food, but he tells them to go away because he'd rather be alone. Then when Trish shows up, out of the six boys, Giorno has the least amount of sexual/romantic tension with her. And from what I've heard, Allen from D Grayman, Natsu from Fairy Tail, and Juudai from Yugioh GX are all similar cases.

Even some fighting seinen series adhere to this trend. Guts and Vash are hardly oblivious to sex and romance, but they're still staunchly celibate for most of their respective series, despite Guts having almost every single female in the cast crushing on him.

In Mahou Sensei Negima, there's this arc that introduces aging pills, and the two male characters use them to age up from 10 to 15, which gets all the 14-year-old harem-ettes into a tizzy, because they keep crushing on the extremely bishie 15-year-old Negi and Kotaro, but then they'll belatedly remember that the boys are still only 10 years old on the inside. I remember someone on Fandom Wank quipping that aged-up Negi and Kotaro were like the quintessential shonen heroes: physically teenagers, but mentally children, especially when it comes to girls/sex/romance. (Kotaro in particular is still very much in the "girls have cooties" phase.) And I think that F_W person really nailed it. So many fighting shonen heroes have a mentality toward girls and sex that doesn't match up with their age, to the point where I start to wonder if they all have hormonal imbalances or something. Or they really are asexual. Or they're gay.

Speaking of which, this trend of the Chaste Shonen Hero is a major reason for why there's so goddamn much HoYay in the genre. A lot of these guys seem to be disinterested in and/or unaware of the opposite sex because they're too busy pouring all their energy into their intense obsessive rivalries and friendships with their male peers. I don't know, I have trouble picturing most real-life teenage boys being like, "No, I don't want to stare at boobs all day and get fawned over by sexy ladies, because I'd rather go daydream about rolling around on the ground, sweatily grappling with my arch-rival. Who is a dude." But that exact line of thinking is quite common in fighting-shonen-land.

This trend becomes especially bizarre when you look at the other side of shonen, the rom-com/harem/magical girlfriend/fanservice shonen, because those protagonists tend to be the exact opposite. Either they're gleefully unrepentant lechers, or they're accidental perverts who feel guilty about falling into cleavage all day long but nevertheless are keenly interested in making it with the ladies. Either way, your average rom-com shonen hero spends a lot of time thinking about boning. I don't know, maybe it's some kind of "I don't like to mix the flavors on my plate" kind of thing; teenage boys like fist-pumping action, and they like titties, but they don't like having both at the same time? Although the existence of the Panty Fighter genre proves that theory completely wrong.

Anyway I'm not sure why so many shonen protagonists are adorably clueless virgins, but I find this pattern interesting.
the_sun_is_up: Fugo and Abbacchio standing extremely close together while making model faces at the camera. (giogio - personal space invasion)
I got over my JoJo's-related indecision and decided to zoom through the rest of Part 2. I'm bemused to hear that so many Western fans name it as their favorite part of JoJo's because while I did enjoy it, a) it falls firmly into So Bad It's Good territory for me and b) it doesn't really feel like JoJo's. It feels more like a prototype; it has Araki's trademark weird superpowers and even weirder posing, but there's no Stands, no musical theme naming, and no iconic JoJo's art style.

Also I figured out why I found Part 2 so much harder to take seriously than Part 5, despite both arcs being massively ridiculous. cut for longish )

In short, Part 2 tends to rely on dumb shonen clichés while Part 5 avoids them. This isn't a bad thing though; if anything, it shows that Araki has improved his manga-writing skills a lot since those early days.

Anyway, here are some more general thoughts:

-While Part 5 was gay in a “feminine outlandishly-dressed bishies lick each other’s faces and strike model poses” way, Part 2 is gay in a “uber-masculine steroid-abusing nearly-naked men climb phallic oil-slicked pillars and give each other fatal wedding rings (and strike model poses)” way. It’s like Camp Gay vs. Macho Gay.

-Speaking of gay, I can see now why Joseph and Caesar are one of the more popular couples in JoJo’s fandom. I love the bit where Joseph returns from beating ACDC and Caesar’s like “Omg yay, you’re not dea–! Um. Ahem. I mean uh, good job or whatever. >.>”

-Joseph = least convincing British guy ever! I know national stereotypes only go so far, but still. Every time I tried to imagine Joseph talking in a British accent, even a colloquial British accent, it sounded hilariously wrong in my head. Although I’ve heard that the Joestars have Scottish roots, and I can buy Joseph as Scottish. As English? Pffffft.

-Joseph is also the least convincing 18-year-old ever, not in terms of personality but in terms of appearance. He looks like a 30-year-old bodybuilder! Of course this is the fault of the Part 2 art style which is... ugh, I feel horrible for saying this, but it’s true — the body proportions are almost Liefeldian. Male bodies do not work that way!

-Lisa Lisa = BAMF. I love how Joseph is constantly waffling between “But this is the 1930s and she’s just a woman!” and “But she’s really awesome omg squee!” I also love her sunglasses, and how when she’s wearing them, she looks like she knows she's hot shit.

-I really enjoyed Joseph’s fighting style — how he’s not afraid to fight dirty and use trickery and manipulate opponents and even act like a goofball in order to catch his enemies off guard. He’s just a really fun character to watch. He does all of the clever things that I’m usually yelling at shonen heroes to do.

-I completely lost my shit at the part where Stroheim and Cars are about to have a very srs fight to the death in Stroheim’s office, when Joseph barges in all like “HAY GUYZ, WHEN’S DINNER?”

A bit more - SPOILERS regarding death, not-death, and relatives )
the_sun_is_up: Twilight Sparkle reading a book. (mlp - happiness is a good book)
One of the big challenges of this project has been sub-genre identification. It's pretty clear that within the Magical Girl genre, several sub-genres exist: TV Tropes identifies the three big ones as the Magic Warrior, the Cute Witch, and the Magic Idol, and I came up with a few more out of necessity, like the Psychic and the Object User. However the question is, how does one determine which sub-genre a given show belongs to? What are the specific attributes that define each sub-genre?

So here are some of the main parameters I've established for determining which sub-genre a given show fits into:

Natural Magic vs. Given Magic: I remember [personal profile] sailorptah mentioning that people in PMMM fandom were debating whether Kyubey gave Madoka her magical powers or whether she had latent powers all along and Kyubey simply unlocked them. I was perplexed by this because to my mind, "giving magic" and "unlocking magical potential" are functionally the exact same thing.

A defining trait of the Magic Warrior is that she spends the first chunk of her life as a muggle, totally unaware of the existence of magic up until the fateful day (usually occurring in the first episode) when she is contacted by some magical entity who lets her in on the masquerade and gives her a magical object that lets her transform. Regardless of whether her magic is "given" or "unlocked," the Magic Warrior requires the assistance of an outside party to kickstart her magic-using career.

For example, compare the origin stories of Wedding Peach and Futari wa Precure: In Wedding Peach, Momoko is the daughter of an angel and her friends are all reincarnations of angels, so it seems obvious that they all possess an innate genetic magical power. In Futari wa Precure, the two mascot mentors crash-land into Nagisa and Honoka's houses apparently by chance and recruit the girls to be Pretty Cures because they're the most convenient choices; no mention is made of destiny or innate powers or the girls having some kind of specialness that makes them prime candidates — they're just a couple of muggles who were in the right place at the right time. Yet despite these differences, the heroines of these two shows get initiated in basically the same way: they're visited by a magical being who tells them that magic exists, gives them a magical doodad, and asks them to transform into a superhero in order to save the world and go fight that monster that's trying to kill you as we speak.

This is what I mean by "given" magic: a Magical Girl who cannot access her powers and isn't even aware she has them until an outside party comes along to enlighten her and unlock her potential, or a Magical Girl who is a totally ordinary muggle with no hidden powers at all until an outside party comes along and hits her with the empowering stick. And while PMMM was actually pretty clear in establishing that Madoka is the former (otherwise why would Kyubey be badgering her all the time), other shows can be pretty vague about how much of the heroine's magic was given and how much was innate potential, thus reinforcing my belief that they're functionally the same.

On the other hand, there's "natural" magic, a feature of the Cute Witch and Psychic sub-genres. A natural magic-user doesn't need the help an outside party to access her powers — instead her powers just manifest on their own, either at birth or gradually as she grows older. Harry Potter, for example, is a natural magic-user because even before he learned any spells or was told about the hidden magical world, he had already discovered his ability to make weird things happen. With a typical Cute Witch, we don't even get to see her discover her abilities — at the start of her story, she's already been using magic for a while and is totally used to it. A natural magic-user also usually doesn't require a magical object to cast magic. A magic wand certainly helps, but even if you take it away, a Cute Witch can usually still do a little magic. The earliest Cute Witches didn't use wands at all, simply pointing or winking to cast magic, and Psychics are similarly unfettered by a reliance on doodads. By contrast, if you take away a Magic Warrior's transformation trinket, she's as powerless as any other muggle.

Unlimited Magic vs. Limited Magic: Another key difference between Cute Witches and Magic Warriors is the range of powers they have access to.

Magic Warriors usually have "limited" magic, meaning that they can only do a few different magical things. Look at Sailor Moon's powers: she can transform, she can disguise herself, she can purify monsters with a finishing move, she can throw her tiara like a frisbee, she can sometimes bring people back from the dead, and she has the standard superhero powers like strength/speed/jumping/resilience/etc. And probably some other ones I forgot. That might sound like a lot, but it's actually quite restrictive when you think about it. Can Sailor Moon make a freshly-cooked steak appear out of thin air? How about a house? Can she split a preexisting house into two houses? Can she summon the guard dog of hell? Rearrange furniture with her mind? Make someone's dessert disappear from under their nose? Bestow sentience and mobility onto potatoes and carrots?

These are all tricks I've seen Cute Witches do, because a Cute Witch usually has "unlimited" magic: she can theoretically do anything with her magic so long as she has reached the required skill and power levels. Also, since Magic Warriors have a clearly defined job description and mission (save the world) their powers are specific to the task at hand. Sailor Moon can't make a steak out of thin air because that ability isn't applicable to monster-fighting; her abilities are limited to only those she needs in order to do her job properly. Cute Witches, on the other hand, have missions that are less pressing or less specialized, and their job description is usually "being a magic-user," so they have more freedom to use their magic on silly things like steak-conjuring and vegetable-animating.

The "limited" magic that characterizes Magic Warriors (and Magic Idols, since they have a similarly specific mission) can be traced back to the old Object User genre, in which the heroine's power was entirely tied to this one doodad that could perform a very specific type of magic and nothing else. In fact, the very first two Magical Girls demonstrate the "limited"/"unlimited" dichotomy quite nicely. Akko, the first Object User, was given a magic mirror that had exactly one power: it could turn her appearance into whatever she wanted. A pretty versatile power, but still. Sally, the first Cute Witch, was the complete opposite: she could do anything that popped into her head simply by pointing her finger. The only limit was her imagination.

Foreign vs. Native: This one's pretty simple: Cute Witches are usually from another world; Magic Warriors are usually from Earth. On the rare occasion that a Magic Warrior is born on another world (as in Hyperspeed Grandoll) or was from another world in a previous life (as in Sailor Moon), she'll still have spent the majority of her life on Earth and will have no memories of life on the other world (until the plot gives those memories back). This ties into the "natural vs given" dichotomy and the difference in origin stories: a Cute Witch's homeworld is usually a magical world, so she grew up with magic all around her and is totally used to it, while a Magic Warrior, even if she has latent powers, grew up as a muggle on Earth and so has to be informed about the magical world's existence.

The last two decades have seen the appearance of a few "home-grown" witches who break with tradition by being from Earth, such as in Ojamajo Doremi and Sasami MG Club, but the majority of Cute Witches are still foreigners.

Fighting Evil By Moonlight: At the end of the day, I think there's one thing that separates the Magic Warriors from everyone else, and it's right there in their name: Magic Warriors fight evil. Cute Witches and others might fight evil on occasion, but Magic Warriors have it as their main gig. Note that "fighting" doesn't have to involve violence. Perhaps "opposing" would be more accurate, because some Magic Warriors conduct their battles nonviolently (like Princess Tutu) or by proxy (like My Melody). The term "evil" is also open to interpretation. In Cardcaptor Sakura, for example, the Clow Cards aren't evil, they're just chaotic and resistant to capture, but they also cause a lot of trouble when out of their box, which is where Sakura comes in.

Hybrids: Obviously not all shows fall neatly into these categories, which brings us to a sub-genre that I call the MW/CW Hybrid. Basically if a Magical Girl a) has fighting evil as her main gig but b) comes from a foreign magical world, that's what defines a Hybrid show. Hybrids are usually "natural" magic-users, since they come from a world where magic is ordinary, but they're also usually "limited" magic-users, because they have a specific job to do and only need the skills necessary to do it. Examples of this mini-genre are Panty and Stocking, Otogi Jushi Akazukin, Onegai My Melody, Super Doll Licca-chan, Jewel BEM Hunter Lime, and Shamanic Princess.
the_sun_is_up: Agatha from Claymore walking magnificently, with the text "I should have known each dress you own is a loaded gun." (claymore - the ultimate femme fatale)
Tonight at dinner, my nerd friends and I got into a discussion about the mostly female but sometimes male compulsion to "fix" one's romantic partner, and spurred by this, I figured it was about time to write a meta that has long been brewing in my mind about the phenomenon of Bad Boys.

I recall a conversation on Fandom Wank where people were talking about how the fangirls love Zuko because he's a "bad boy," and one person was like "What? Since when is Zuko a 'bad boy'? He's a total dork!" They were right of course, and this led me to a realization: Regarding the old maxim "All Girls Want Bad Boys," the phrase "bad boy" refers to two different character archetypes.

Type A is the motorcycle-riding bad boy. His "bad"-ness comes from his being a rebel. He smokes, drinks, partakes of illegal substances, causes trouble, gets in fights, only goes to school when he feels like it, probably has lots of tattoos and piercings and maybe an outlandish hairdo. He's the type of guy you'd date because he freaks out your parents. Women are drawn to him because they know that life with him could never be boring. He's usually not evil by any stretch of the imagination; he's just... dangerous.

Type B is what I like to call the "fixer-upper." His "bad"-ness comes from his being a villain, or at least an anti-hero, and being evil to some extent, or at least a big jerk. However he has a few humanizing qualities, whether a hint of a heart of gold buried under all that puppy-kicking, or a tragic past that explains why he ended up a douchebag, or some secret angst that he hides behind a façade of indestructibility — whatever the details, it's clear that he has the potential to be redeemed. Women are drawn to him because he's damaged and they believe they can "fix" him, usually with the power of love and boinking.

The two types have a number of other distinguishing features that make them easier to tell apart. For example, if your bad boy is a seductive ladies' man, then you're definitely dealing with a Type A. Type Bs are usually way too wrapped up in their own evil plans and angsting to even notice girls, much less chat them up — look no further than Sasuke and Zuko for examples of this. The Type A, on the other hand, is much more likely to be aware of the effect he has on girls and to use it to his advantage, à la Rich from "Penny & Aggie." Actually, coolness in general is a trait more associated with Type As — James Bond is a great example of a post-high-school Type A. Type Bs are more likely to be complete dorks who take themselves extremely seriously — again, Zuko is a shining example of this. Relatedly, snarking and witty dialogue is another Type A trait — Spike from Buffy strikes me as being a Type A for this and other reasons, at least before his Spikeification.

Basically the difference between the two types boils down to the core appeal of each. Type A is appealing because he's fun and exciting and dangerous; Type B is appealing because he's a "project."

However obviously categories like this are never ironclad, and there are plenty of characters who are a mixture of Types A and B. For example, Ikuto from Shugo Chara is my pick for "Bad Boy Most Likely To Have Been Concocted By Evil Geniuses Who Are Now Fabulously Wealthy" because he's such a perfect combination of both types: he has all the style and flair and seductive "you know you want me" quality of a Type A, plus all the hidden angst and "I'm not evil, I just need a hug" appeal of a Type B.

Come to think of it, a hybrid of both types seems like the optimal form of bad boy, or at least it's what the fangirls seem to prefer. If you have a bad boy who does slot neatly into one of the types, you can bet there'll be a mountain of fanfic in which the fic-writers supplement his personality with traits from the opposite type. It seems like fangirls want their leather-wearing charmers to also have angst and need comforting, and they want their angsty projects to also be smooth snarky seducers who know how to romance a lady. Just look at Draco Malfoy: in the canon he's a staunch Type B, but fandom likes to add a bunch of Type A traits to him, including those memetic leather pants which are straight out of the motorcycle-riding Type A's wardrobe. Or as Fandom Wank Wiki puts it: "In fanon, Draco is known for his cool dialogue and a tendency to wear leather trousers. In canon, Draco is known for barely managing a decent put-down on Ron and a tendency to cry like a little girl in the bathroom." (Of course, crying like a little girl in the bathroom is exactly what makes fangirls flock to guys like Draco in the first place.) Zuko is another clear Type B who gets Type A traits awkwardly shoehorned onto him in fanon, resulting in unintentionally hilarious fics where Mr. "You're Beautiful When You Hate The World" is portrayed as a smooth ladykiller.

As for the reverse — a Type A being supplemented with Type B traits in fanon — that seems to happen less with conventional Type As and more with a subset of Type As who have all the style and lady-charming and witty dialogue and "cool" factor of the average Type A but buck the "not evil, just dangerous" stipulation by instead being 100% evil. I guess you could call this the Evil Is Sexy subset. Anyway, these guys have a lot of the same "fun and exciting" appeal as the standard Type A, but the fic writers often compulsively tack on a tragic backstory to make these dudes more palatable and to give them bonus Type B appeal. Because I guess we can't just enjoy a sexy villain for what he is; we have to humanize him too, which tends to defang him somewhat. (Sometimes this even happens in canon, which I gather is what happened to Spike.) Perhaps it's also to assuage the guilt of perving over an unrepentant douchebag.

Of course, sometimes these varieties of canon-warping can happen to characters who fit neither of these types and who honestly can't be categorized as "bad boys" at all. Just look at Itachi from Naruto. Before the circa-chapter-400 revelation that turned him into a Type B, Itachi was just a blank slate, a plot device with zero personality beyond "stoic" and "unfettered." He was just a random evil guy, lacking both the charm of the Type A and the redemptive potential of the Type B, and yet fangirls often ascribed one or both of those personalities to him in fanwork depending on their tastes. Or heck, look at Draco Malfoy. He became a Type B in the later books, but before that, he was neither type. He wasn't a cool villain — quite the opposite, he was a whiny sniveling little worm and a frequent butt of jokes — but he was also pretty two-dimensional in his villainy, with no hint of a nicer side. But even back then, the fangirls couldn't get enough of him and would subject him to either or both varieties of personality-warping. And wardrobe-warping, natch.

So I guess there are two larger categories of "bad boy": on the one hand, you have the Canon Bad Boys, whose canonical personality fits into Type A, Type B, or both; on the other hand, you have the Potential Bad Boys, who are just assholes in canon, but who, with a little tweaking of personality, could potentially be transformed into genuine "bad boys" of either or both types, with said transformation happening usually in fanon but also sometimes in canon.

Anyway, in conclusion, the term "bad boy" actually encompasses a wide range of personality traits, character types, and audience appeals, to the point where the only thing that unites all the "bad boy" characters under one umbrella is the reaction they provoke in a certain segment of the audience. By which I mean: they cause a lot of panties to become moist.

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the_sun_is_up: Panty from PSG wearing glasses. (Default)
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