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Springkink Mystery

Too much has been going on in RL for me to take in much of springkink. But now that I look at it (briefly - 'cause I'm at work), the vast majority of stories seem to be about Kingdom Hearts (!) or Transformers (!!!).

Aren't these a video game and a rather simplistic kids' cartoon, respectively? Can someone explain why these might be so popular for the springkink treatment?

And here I thought that my much-expanded repertoire of manga knowledge would enable me to appreciate this stuff more effectively this time around ... .



( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 5th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
Hellifino what's appealing about Transformers.

But Kingdom Hearts - mostly KHII - has a large variety of older-than-puberty characters in it that are almost all bishounen, and some deliberately ambiguous tension between the main character and his best friend. :) I can see where that one comes from. Alas, I have not finished KHII, so I avoid those, and I dislike underage pr0n or non-pr0n sexual tension, so I avoid those, and that pretty much cuts out everything KH.

But hey: Sephiroth shows up in both KHI and II.
Feb. 6th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)

>> Sephiroth shows up in both KHI and II. <<

.... he does?

The Mr. got Kingdom Hearts when we bought our PS2, and I watched him play several times. I never saw anyone but a bunch of Disney characters and the teenaged POV character. It just wasn't my thing! But he enjoyed it - stuff to blow up, hey! (Most recently, he's been playing "Ratchet and Clank.")

Feb. 6th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)
Either the Mr never played the tournaments all the way through to the Platinum Cup, or you missed him doing it. :) Sephiroth is the final opponent in the tournament, an optional boss.

His entrance. (I lasted slightly longer than that player did. XD)

He shows up loitering around Hollow Bastion, glaring at Sora, in KHII and is presumably involved in the plot somehow, but I'm only halfway through so I'm not sure.
Feb. 8th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)

I'm sure I just missed him doing it! He played KH1 to death. (I only just finally looked at this vid - unsurprisingly, they block YouTube at the office.)

Feb. 5th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
I think the recent Transformers movie is what's caused the recent spike in interest.
Feb. 6th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC)

That sounds plausible!

Feb. 5th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Do you play any sort of console games at all? Many of them, particularly some of the Japanese RPGs, are really about as plot-and-character heavy as anime, so it's not terribly surprising that there's a ton of fic about stuff like the Final Fantasy games. I've never played KH but it's something of an odd FF spinoff, with much-ficced characters like Sephiroth, Cloud, Tidus, and Squall making cameos, so it doesn't surprise me it should be about as popular with ficcers as the parent franchise.

Transformers, well, I don't really Get It there either, but it's also nothing new -- my first real exposure to fanfic, eeargh, was it really twenty years ago? was by way of a girl who wrote tons of Starscream/Megatron slash...
Feb. 6th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC)

Karl has played Kingdom Hearts, but as I mentioned to telophase, all I saw was Sora and the Disney characters. In general, I find the computerized "role playing games" so incredibly lame compared to a halfway decent human-refereed RPG, so no, I haven't ... . For computer games, I stick to abstracts like Mahjongg (and the Mahjongg thing we have has some other neat games as well) or map games like Civilization.

Feb. 7th, 2008 04:23 am (UTC)
The console RPGs haven't tended to click with me because I'm just not into the level of micromanagement they require. The namespace collision is rather unfortunate since the console RPGs really don't have a lot in common with tabletop RPGs, but for they can be an entertaining gaming experience in their own right for those who enjoy that particular game genre.

I'm a real dilettante where it comes to console games, my experience is rather scattershot and not focused on any particular genre, although in general terms I tend to particularly like quirky games that don't demand ultra-fast reflexes and memorizing complex button-mashing combos. I would highly, highly recommend Ōkami; it's like nothing else out there. The art is beautiful and stylized with a strong sumi-e influence, the soundtrack is lush orchestrations, many inspired by Japanese folk tunes, the characters and monsters are full of myth and folklore references to delight the geeky heart, and the structure is all fairly low-pressure; there are quests to complete and a plotline to follow, but you're free to rush through or just take your time exploring. There's combat and scary or comical monsters to fight, but you can also avoid fighting much of the time if you prefer, and plenty of puzzles and non-combat side games, or you can just run about feeding animals and making flowers bloom. There are plenty of games out there that are amusing or thrilling, but I've never come across one that had such a sense of wonder about it; when you've cleared another blighted area and see a barren wasteland blooming into life, it feels downright good for the soul. (And as my friend Res once summed it up, "Every game should have a "BARK" button; Ammy, for all her divine powers, is also very, very charmingly canine.)

You can see the first Japanese trailer here, but grainy YouTube video really doesn't do it full justice.

Feb. 8th, 2008 09:11 pm (UTC)

There are several videos of it on YouTube. And I remember telophase talking about it. It looks cool ... but the comments on youTube from serious games say it was too easy for them, so I probably don't want to get it for the Mr. (he wants things to fight back - hard).

But it's this whole business of writing fics about games that I don't understand, still ... .

Feb. 8th, 2008 09:56 pm (UTC)
Well, speaking as a dilettante gamer, the most "everyday" sort of monsters that you encounter the most often aren't that difficult to kill, but many of the bigger ones can be very challenging indeed. But constant heavy combat is really not the point of this game, it's more about story and atmosphere. If his primary interest in games is just lots and lots of beating up on extremely challenging enemies, this might not be his sort of thing; OTOH, it's something I would heartily recommend to someone who doesn't game much or at all, precisely because there's more to it than just fighting and even the most challenging fights can be managed even if you haven't had a controller glued to your hands for decades.

But it's this whole business of writing fics about games that I don't understand, still ...

And again, all I can say is that the sort of games that draw the most fic, it's really essentially the same impulse as writing fic about manga or anime; but if you've never played that sort of game all the way through, and only seen them second-hand and in bits and pieces, I can understand why you might not be able to see that. There can be pretty characters with evocative backstories, sometimes there's excellent voice acting (sometimes even by name actors who are known from movies or other anime/cartoon voice work), they can be involved in complex plots and relationships with other characters, sometimes with copious friendship or romantic/sexual subtext and text; the plot can be as complicated and take as long or longer to spin out as it would to watch or read a series, with the additional factor that you're actually directly controlling the actions of one or more of them, so it can be very easy to identify with the character you're playing.

Many, many games aren't like that, of course -- there are plenty that are very character-lite and purely about fighting, racing, or some other sort of non-stop action. But there are a lot of other games where the appealing characters and complex storylines are the big selling points and the combat is just part of the big picture; and these are the games that seem to inspire the most enthusiastic fanfic response.
Feb. 8th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)

I think maybe this clip gives a better idea of what Okami looks like in play ...?

I think that to some degree, I'm just reluctant to load on another addiction. I already can spend hours on my LJ, just answering the inbox ... I've been on since 2:30 here, for example!

Feb. 9th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Kind of sort of? The clips they've chosen are focusing heavily on combat situations, and mostly with the random run-of-the-mill low-powered enemies that you can pretty much avoid a lot of the time if you choose. It left out all of the big-baddie boss monsters, it left out all the really appealing noble-enemy semi-antagonistic characters you occasionally have to spar with to win their respect, and it gave very little screen time to all the non-combat bits where you're talking with people, exploring, feeding animals, fishing, swimming, competing in foot races, digging in gardens, designing kimono, making trees bloom, training in a dojo...it's not even remotely like non-stop hack-and-slash, but the clip selection there makes it look much more heavily action-oriented. Except for the long "bloom" sequence at the end of the vid, it doesn't hint much at the more lyrical atmospheric sequences, and it doesn't give you any of the funny or touching character interaction.

I can certainly understand not wanting to add on another addiction, and having too little time for your existing hobbies -- it's why my own game library and experience is so very, very small! But if you do ever find the time to play even just one game through entirely, or watch one of the right type being played through, I think you'd understand why folks can find some games every bit as fic-inspiring as other media.
Feb. 5th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
Kingdom Hearts is basically a crossover between Disney and the wildly popular Final Fantasy series of RPG games, but the fandom does their best to ignore the Disney part and focuses on the Japanese eye candy instead. Since RPG games can easily take 20, 40, or even 80 hours to play through with lots of side quests and relationship building, the stories are pretty complex... Kingdom Hearts is very much like a shounen manga with themes of friendship and all the usual stuff. Personally, I'm not into it... I think it's overrated... but like most shounen series, Kingdom Hearts is overflowing with pretty boys and angst. That pretty much explains why fangirls like it so much.

As for Transformers... I don't know, and I don't think I want to know. What I remember from Saturday morning cartoons is that there are robots from another planet that turn into cars and stuff to, uh, fight evil robots. Or something. There is a terrifying amount of porn for this... I don't know how exactly the fanfic writers pull that off, because I'm afraid to look. Apparently in one incarnation of the series, the robots turn into giant animals, which makes for even more disturbing porn. But like furries, the robosexuals take their kinks very seriously... *shudder* I guess the recent movie piqued people's interest, but Transformers slash has been around for ages. Now that old 80s cartoons are trendy among my age group, we should mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable Care Bears porn...
Feb. 5th, 2008 07:11 pm (UTC)
And just from looking at how much the tags get used, the KH fic is just a drop in the bucket compared to all the Final Fantasy fic...not surprising, really. Those aren't the only games getting the Springkink treatment, either -- I've noticed quite a few Persona, Phoenix Wright, and Digital Devil Saga stories (they caught my eye because I have friends into those games/fandoms), and I've read several decent Devil May Cry pieces. Popular games also often lead to manga, novelization, or anime spin-offs -- the Devil May Cry series is one of the few that I follow and it's gotten the works -- so that can also provide more fuel for the fannish imagination.

I don't know how exactly the fanfic writers pull that off, because I'm afraid to look.

The biggest part I remember from that robot-slashing old classmate (who would TALK YOUR EAR OFF with her theories about Transformers sexuality if given half a chance) is that any time you heard them talking about "interface" it really meant sex. Also, she insisted that all of the Decepticons were gay. Beyond that, well, time has mercifully blurred most of those memories.

Apparently in one incarnation of the series, the robots turn into giant animals, which makes for even more disturbing porn

I think that's "Beast Wars", which thankfully came along after I'd lost touch with the robosexual friend, so I have no idea how the fandom deals with it. I suspect it may still be less disturbing than the new Kiss Players series, where the bots power up by having young girls kiss them...yes, it's lolicon meets robots.

Now that old 80s cartoons are trendy among my age group, we should mentally prepare ourselves for the inevitable Care Bears porn...

It's nothing new -- well over a decade ago, one of the major weapons in my "odd fanfic links to make friends scream for brainbleach" was a series of NC-17 Thundercats stories (including one that was a Thundercats/Scooby-Doo crossover. Trust me, you never, ever want to hear "Jinkies!" as a cry of passion.) And it sounds like you haven't yet seen the infamous "Slave Bear of Care-A-Lot"...

Rule 34, people.

(Also, I have seen at least one writer who didn't ignore the Disney side of the KH cast...but that was deliberately cracky for twisted humor value, so perhaps it doesn't entirely count.)
Feb. 5th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC)
I'm surprised that there are so many fics for Digital Devil Saga and Persona... I thought the MegaTen games were too difficult to be popular! I'm glad that Shadow Hearts II is getting some love, though, because any video game where you can beat Rasputin with a frozen tuna or collect gay porn to give to a tailor so he'll make dresses for your battle loli is BRILLIANT in my mind.

Yeah, someone on my friends list draws and writes lots of Transformers slash... which I try to ignore. Sometimes she makes the robots human, which makes slightly more sense. Slightly.

Kiss Players? o__O I just googled it. Wow, two kinks in one... Japan never ceases to amaze me. Somewhere, an otaku is getting off to this.

I've made a point of staying far, far away from cartoon fandom. The first fanfic I read upon getting my first dial-up internet in middle school was an NC-17 Dinosaucers piece featuring oral and anal sex between a man and a space brontosaurus. *sob* Way to rape my childhood, internet.

I know there are plenty of people who write Disney character smut, but they seem to be a separate fandom from the KH people.
Feb. 6th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)

(Somehow, in light of this discussion, the rather tense talk I was just having on "why slash" seems awfully normal and tame ... at least my fantasies don't need to be turned into fuzzy critters or robots before I can enjoy them!)

Feb. 6th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)

Karl has played Kingdom Hearts I recently, but the parts I saw didn't have anybody interesting in them except Sora. (Apparently, I decided "been there, done that" as far as watching him play before it got interesting.) I figured we had to be playing the wrong version, given all the key-carrying cosplayers last year at Katsucon, whom I never saw onscreen at our house!

Argh, I have a feeling that alienated kids who feel themselves powerless probably get into the Transformer stuff - which is rather the same reason that 4-yr-old boys get into dinosaurs and robots. (Interestingly enough, Kat's extremely indulged and secure not-quite-4-yr-old - who has two parents that work at home and who still can sleep in their bed if he wants to - isn't interested in either of those, much. He likes pirates, and sometimes trains.)

Feb. 6th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)

Oh, and re Care Bears? You mean someone will actually write the (joke) novel Clan of the Care Bears, which was the subject of an entry in one of those word puzzle contests ... you know, change one letter, and explain what the result would be about ... .

Feb. 7th, 2008 04:30 am (UTC)
You never know -- Slave Bear of Care-A-Lot was done for a prior year's Yuletide. Auel/Care Bears crossover porn hardly seems more unlikely, given an author with a sufficiently twisted sense of humor. ;)
Feb. 5th, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC)
Kingdom Hearts combines to very popular existing fandoms - Disney and Final Fantasy - and adds a whole bunch of colourful new universes and easily shippable new characters. Plus there are multiple games out there now, making it a series, so more characters, and, well, more everything. If you're not a gamer or into any game-based fandoms, it probably wouldn't hold much appeal. But for everyone else, it's pretty versatile and really shiny. I'd say it's a good candidate for kink!fic because of all the different worlds etc (the characters take on different forms when they enter different worlds and stuff).

As for Transformers... Well, it's my childhood, so I get that warm, safe feeling from it, and, to coin a phrase, chicks dig giant robots. And chicks write a lot of fanfic.

In fic terms, the recent movie has opened things up a whole lot, in that you can basically redesign everything any way you want and get away with it. And since 'sex' isn't really defined in any detail, you can basically do what you want there too. Pretty much anything goes, so there's plenty of room for kink.

And I should probably at this point, point out that Transformers is my current fandom focus, so I am gonna argue its good points in slightly biased manner. :p
Feb. 6th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)

De gustibus non est disputandum ... . The big robots just do not turn my crank, although I had a brief flirtation with Astroboy and his kin in my very young days. Then I moved on to the superhero guys (including some very early X-Men), and by 10 or 11 was a confirmed Trekkie and Middle Earth nut.

And when I hear "gamers," I get all excited - until I realize that people nowadays usually mean computer games. Man, that ain't gaming! Gaming is sitting around a table or the living room with your best geek buddies, making bad puns and saving the world (link is to one of my friend TK's sites - he still sometimes publishes gaming stuff, and he ran a really superb game).


Feb. 6th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC)
Ah. Well for me it's not really such a surprise. I used to play with Transformers toys and watch the cartoon when I was little, and when I first got into anime in a big way, it was mostly mecha anime, so it wasn't really a huge leap to get into Transformers fandom.

Of course I do love superhero comics too. My first encounter with online fandom was with X-men. It was sort of an anomaly for me actually, in terms of fandom. Hm. Trek I'll watch and such, but I'm not really a serious fan, and Middle Earth pretty much went right over my head, I really just couldn't get into it.

And yes, there are those types of gamers too. A lot of the 'gamers' I know are involved in both types of gaming, but in my previous comment I was basically referring to the computer gamers. I don't generally participate, but I still have a good working knowledge of the subject thanks to the company I keep and almost all of the significant non-familial relationships in my life having been with gamers. Therefore I can comfortably dip my toe in Kingdom Hearts fandom and not emerge completely baffled. ^^
Feb. 8th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)

I was such a young LotR fan that it's hard for me to remember exactly why it appealed at that age. I think that the hobbits - the feeling of being a small person caught up in horrible world events - was most of it. And I remember being weirdly moved by the last sections with Frodo and Sam inching their way to the top of Mount Doom to drop in the Ring. Although the Sam/Frodo shippers squick me out, I know where it's coming from ... .

I had a massive crush on Spock, although it didn't play out that way - I was young enough and naive enough that I didn't think in terms of romance.

I can see why some people play computer games - it's the idea of writing romantic or smutty fanfic about them that has me bemused. As for the other type of gaming: an early m/m pairing of mine was one of my characters (I had a number of male characters) with another player's male character. When that player came out several years later, I 'fessed up to him what his character had been up to in my head, and he wasn't upset at all ... it was rather nice. Otherwise, it would have remained a deep, dark secret. But because no one knows such characters but the people with whom you play, they're not very easy to share elsewhere.

Feb. 8th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
On the game front, well, some people will ship/slash ANYTHING -- I've seen Minesweeper fic, although a lot of times I suspect that the really insane, meta pairings like that are done largely for the humor value. But many, many modern computer/console games have storylines and characterization (and as the technology improves, shiny pretty character art, too) that's really pretty much equivalent to what you would find in much anime or manga. And it's those games that are the most heavy on story and character that seem to inspire the most fic.

I do hear you on being into LOTR so young that it's hard to pin down why: I was reading that on my own when I was so small that I literally do not remember reading it for the first time, I can't distinctly remember a point in my life when I hadn't read it.
Feb. 11th, 2008 10:09 pm (UTC)

Oh, I know pretty much exactly when I read LotR: I got it volume by volume for Hanukkah when I was 11, in the edition with the crazy abstract-ish covers by Barbara Remington (links shows the covers all together as a poster - which I owned, of course). I read and re-read it until the books fell apart - I was on my second boxed set by the time I hit college. I think I mentioned that I wrote game supplements based on it ... .

Feb. 12th, 2008 05:53 am (UTC)
I had the second Ballantine paperback edition, the one with Tolkien's own watercolors, left behind when my dad moved out -- I remember the Remingtons, though, one of my regular babysitters had a bunch of those and the covers weirded me out, they didn't look anything like the world in my head! I was a very precocious reader, starting to read at three and I know I was already picking through LOTR on my own by the time I was in kindergarten -- I remember daydreaming about the orc battles during naptime. But at that age, memories are fuzzy enough that I distinctly remember reading it constantly and hauling the increasingly-battered paperbacks everywhere I went, but I can't actually remember reading it for the first time...
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