Anyone personally affected by the Gundam Wing Incident should probably not read this. Everyone else, I will put it in 12-step form. My name is Princess Noin and I am...um...wait, forget that. If it isn't obvious that I have a little "problem" with GW from my screen name...you haven't seen it. Oh fine. Step one: We admitted we have a problem with Gundam Wing and our lives have become unmanageable. Without it. *slap*
Okay, I'm back. According to the Betty Ford website, they don't treat GW. Too bad, because they'd make a TON of money from the repeat customers. Seriously, given how old the series is, it's shocking that there are over 40,000 GW stories on Fanfiction.net. Not that I looked. Ever. Twice. Three times. Today.
Here's the deal. And this will segue into another subject so we'll talk a little more about how this is Mr. Darcy's fault later. When I was a kid, I watched ThunderCats, G.I. Joe, and She-Ra--the big 80's cartoon classics. One thing I loved about them was they all had strong female characters. See, I hated baby dolls and resented that all of the Barbie dolls on store shelves were blondes. I'm not a blonde. Nothing against blondes, but I never wanted to be one...I like my hair color. I really longed for a character I could identify with in looks and spirit--someone not too girly, who could kick ass, and had her own plane. (Lady Jaye had several Sky Strikers.) I loved Cheetara, Lady Jaye, and She-Ra because they were tough and always contributed to the fight. They had a place in the story apart from getting rescued all the time. They were self-rescuing--you know, the thing everyone wants girls to be now, except there aren't any role-models except Princess Leia and she's not that good of an example (kissed her brother).
I never stopped watching cartoons so I noticed the decline. Girls like Cheetara, Lady Jaye, and She-Ra were replaced with screechy little know-it-all blondes that never did anything apart from tell all the boy characters they were wrong. The animation style turned from realistic to silly. The classic 80's cartoons were thought of as too violent. For example, my grandfather hated ThunderCats due to the "little problem" of the "ancient devil priest Mumm-Ra." He was one of those guys who believed that when confronted with a scary bad guy, kids will automatically bow down and worship it, all thoughts of Jesus Christ immediately banished from our minds. Yeah. That? Didn't happen. Mumm-Ra was awful. I wanted to be Cheetara, numb nuts. And ThunderCats had nothing to do with church. (Weirdo...)
Then I discovered anime. An interesting thing about anime: Japan isn't exactly known for women's empowerment, but they create the most realistic and fun female characters I've ever seen. They let the girls do stuff. Not only that, anime is capable of concluding a story arc. G.I. Joe hasn't beaten Cobra yet, Mumm-Ra is still around, and for all her supposed invincibility, I don't think She-Ra ever kicked the Horde off Etheria...of course not, because then we couldn't sell more toys. Anime isn't solely focused on selling toys to kids, so there is all kinds of room for things like...a story.
I had a secret hope that someday the 80's cartoon style would be popular again. When I moved out on my own, I got cable and Cartoon Network. They showed reruns of the original ThunderCats, triggering a major nostalgia attack. (Aw, 80's ThunderCats, why is your animation so good sometimes and so bad other times?) Whatever, I got to see Cheetara. During the ThunderCats reruns, they started advertising some show called Gundam Wing by showing this really big, super detailed robot doing gun tricks with a beam saber. Yeah...big robot show! We love those. I've seen Voltron. Okay, great. I set the VCR (it's THAT old) to record the first episode, so I could watch this robot do more gun tricks. (Wing, it turned out. The Gundam in Wing is Wing. Whatever.)
I can't tell you what GW is about because the story is so godawful complicated it makes your brain hurt. Let's just say it's about war. Every time you think you know what a character is thinking, that character goes batshit insane and does the opposite of what he was doing before. (That part is like HackMaster.) It's exhausting. It took me three viewings of the entire series to get it...and "it" is that war...is complicated. And no one feels the same way about a thing forever. And when you're young, you do silly things, like try to drop a spaceship on Earth to kill everyone--that kind of thing. It's a metaphor! And you should never, ever, under any circumstances, trust Treize Khushrenada. This should be a law.
|He always plays the magic user.|
And that was how I found out its possible to get a crush on a fictional character...
|Thank god--they fixed the damage for the warhammer.|
Which leads me back to how this is all Mr. Darcy's fault.
|This is all Mr. Darcy's fault... Let's overthrow Pemberly.|
Oh, wait, before Mr. Darcy, the part about the strong women. GW had more than one. All of them did some smart things and a few stupid things...basically, they were human. I can't identify with the token girl character who gets straight A's, knows all of the answers, and nags the boys with her awesomeness. Girls do stupid things all of the time and we should be recognized for it!
Okay, back to Mr. Darcy. I avoided reading "Pride and Prejudice" due to its reputation of Girliest Book EVER in the History of the World. I gave in because it's a classic, I liked the zombie version, and it was free in the iBooks store. Also, one of the ladies who did the NaNoWriMo word sprints on Twitter wrote a P&P story from Mr. Darcy's perspective. I liked her sprints, so why not read the book that inspired her? It was pretty obvious why girls like Mr. Darcy--he's subtle. Or at least, that's why I liked him. All of the relationships in GW are subtle and hard to define unless you pay attention to the clues. :)
By following Nancy Kelley, I discovered IndieJane.org. Although I'm not as big of a Jane Austin fan as I am of GW, I appreciated the enthusiasm and love that I saw there. Also, that people were writing stories about Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. I felt a little less silly for being that attached to GW. Because other people have the same problem.
This is why we form support groups.
I've heard writers admit that it helps to be a little bit in love with your characters. I've heard gamers say you never want to be at all attached to your PC. Because so many people love Mr. Darcy, it got me thinking about characters that got to me and naturally, that led to GW. I'm not sure if it helps to be a little bit in love, but its easier to connect to some characters than others. I've rolled up HackMaster PCs that I have no idea how to play and PCs that instantly make sense. GW has a large main cast and everyone I talk to about it had a different favorite. Out of my five NaNoWriMo novels, I only connected with the characters in two of them. I didn't care about the characters in the other three as much--even though I created them, too--and struggled through those attempts.
What makes me connect to a character? All kinds of things---random things. I tend to gravitate to the supporting cast. They are usually more interesting than the standard hero. They get to have personalities. I loved Han Solo and was fully "meh" about Luke Skywalker. Zechs Merquise, Lucrezia Noin, and Treize Khushrenada are not supposed to be the focus of GW...unless you're me and get completely caught up in their craziness. Crazy is good, too. Crazy is different. :) I like good manners, characters that are a little "off," and have royal titles. I write a lot of princess stories, but my princesses are more like Padme Amidala than The Little Mermaid. Those are a few things. I know there are more things, but sometimes that connection is a mystery until it happens.
If you've read this far, here is a link to one of my favorite GW stories. It's extremely cute. Too cute. Don't read it. More than twice. It's very long. And cute.
The Lilac Princess