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On BL Shipping – Am I a terrible human being?

March 27, 2014

blog-rambleTime for some random meandering thoughts, mostly for my own benefit – writing that post on my preferred ships in Gundam Wing got me thinking about my preference for wholly unhealthy ships in fiction and I thought I’d better attempt to examine the fascination with rather destructive relationships.  Can you tell I’m feeling rather introspective and trying to avoid work this morning?

Foe-Yay is something I’m a big fan of because the sparks that fly between enemies is absolutely fascinating – it may be completely destructive, but they’re magnetically attracted to each other time and again. It is easy to allow my awful imagination to run away from me and see that violent passion morphing into something else entirely. These relationships are completely unrealistic flights of fancy that could never actually happen, but I’m attracted to them regardless – I have strange fascination with dark angsty fanfics and doujinshi.

Maybe it is because they are fictional characters in a make-believe world? It is safe to have them damage each other, spiraling down a very dangerous rabbit hole to places no sane person would ever wish to go. I am intensely interested in the dark places the human psyche can go, fictional characters are easy to contort and ruin, and then reset and twist the knife again to see if they do something different. Stories that drive their characters right to the brink of absolute madness and despair entertain me more than I’m entirely comfortable with – what does it really say about me that I like to watch people break? I tend to justify the matter in that these aren’t real people, that it’s okay because it is fiction, but at the same time I prize a realistic approach – these things could actually happen.

I studied psychology and anthropology at University, I find human thought processes endlessly fascinating, but I still struggle to explain the dark attraction I have for twisted, broken characters and their destructive relationships. All I know is that the pairings I tend to favour consist of prickly characters that clash more often than they agree – the more volatile the relationship, the more interested I am! There is some comfort in knowing that I’m not alone on this – I don’t write fanfiction or doujins myself, yet I never run out of material covering my favoured ships and the darker side of their relationships. I suppose there is a reason why fujoshi means “rotten girl”.

Anyway there’s no actual point to this post, just something that I’ve been turning over in my head this morning while avoiding doing any real work!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 27, 2014 12:16 pm

    While I’m not much of a shipper, I know what you mean when you say you favour broken characters. I think it’s just much more interesting, story-wise, to see flawed characters struggle their way through their problems/relationships/etc. That’s a reason why I love Eva so much – the characters are complete messes 🙂

    • March 27, 2014 9:11 pm

      Yeah characters with issues definitely add interest to their shows, that is fairly acceptable I think. What I sometimes worry about is how I like pairing these broken characters together and watching them struggle for air!

  2. March 27, 2014 2:50 pm

    Angsty romance is somewhat realistic.

    Romance is often angsty in real life.

    Falling in love with an enemy is not as realistic; it’s a mirror-image of something that happens frequently; people make personal enemies out of lovers.

  3. afaque2013 permalink
    March 27, 2014 3:33 pm


    hi caraniel,do you read manga? then i have a recommendation:read homunculus manga,because most of the character are broken or twisted and after 10 chapters or so,it becomes so dark&deep.and can you list all the mangas you read here? it is because i want recommend you some more mangas.hope i am not bothering you.

    and please reply.

  4. March 27, 2014 6:01 pm

    Great article! Interesting…Replace “relationships” with “situations” and that sums up a lot of anime I like. Series where the situations slowly break people, like Steins;Gate are very interesting to me. I don’t see anything wrong with it though. I think it’s partially because there is often no way to explore these kinds of things (safely) in real life, that it makes stories with dark relationships and situations all the more appealing.

    • March 27, 2014 9:20 pm

      Yes! Shows that twist the psychological knife and make their characters suffer are a favourite of mine – so interesting to watch.

  5. March 31, 2014 3:04 am

    I don’t think it’s particularly unusual for shippers (or anyone, really) to be attracted to broken characters or destructive relationships. All the cliche angst of BL pairings aside, characters with problems – especially emotional/psychological ones – make for potentially very interesting storytelling. Of course in real life, I favour healthy relationships, but the fact is that in a fictional setting, happy and emotionally stable characters sometimes just don’t make for fascinating stories. Messed-up characters dealing with stress and trauma and all that other dramatic stuff, on the other hand, often do.

    • April 2, 2014 8:49 pm

      Very true. Happy, well adjusted characters with nice normal romances aren’t exactly the most interesting thing to observe from the outside – friction, drama and angst are all much more entertaining.

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