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Five OTPs, and how (this post) grew.

This was supposed to be a short post and it just took off and turned into a post about why i slash, what i slash, and how i slash it. It started out with a simple, okay, seriously. Shindou and Touya are so in love why is this fandom not churning out a MILLION FICS A DAY. They arguably are the biggest canon ship that ever sashayed its way into a canon without ever exchanging a kiss.

I'm going to talk about what I mean when I throw out terms like "canon slash." I have this sort of vehement belief that ALL of my, uh, current major ships, i guess, are basically as slashy as you can get in canon without actually being gay. So this is long and rambly, but it's basically me going on about how Hikaru no Go's OTP is more beautifully OTP than anything, and specifically, why given a number of infinitely slashy canons, Hikago still manages to be infinitely more slashy than ALL of them.

I discuss at length Nobuta, House, Prince of Tennis, Hikaru no Go, and Harry/Draco below (with gratuitous references to SV, SGA, SPN and any other S-show I can think of), so there are very mild vague spoilers for the end-dynamics of shows that have ended. I don't know how you compare five such different fandoms to each other in terms of content, but when you examine them in terms of shipping, it actually breaks down pretty easily.

Slash overkill, also known as "blatant fanservice," also known as 'House, M.D.'

mirabellawotr said something on her lj recently that I have been trying to put into words forever: the power of a canon to be inherently slashy without actually becoming so slashy that it loses the sizzle of slash and just becomes blatant subtext. You can read subtextual House/Wilson from the very first episode; for me, probably 80% of the joy I get from House is watching the show just constantly ratchet up the House/Wilson slash, because every time, every damn time, I say House cannot possibly get more obvious or overt with the slash than it is, they do something else to pile it on just that much more.

But Mira's exactly right; there is nothing, nothing in the world as completely canonically gay as Hikago is without actually being gay. Other canons (like House/Wilson, and I think TezuRyo) are so blatant without actually being slash that it's almost overkill. Hikago, though - Hikago gives you the goods. Hikago delivers. Hikago says "these two kids are in love and they will be in love for all eternity and that is all that we need to say."

(I suppose at the opposite end of the spectrum would be Smallville; the homoeroticism is canonically acknowledged out the wazoo, but said canon is in fact trying to go the opposite direction and not legitimate the sexual tension with any kind of happy resolution, even a platonic one.)

With Nobuta, which is so slashy, so beautifully slashy, I don't actually need them to be slashed and would actually prefer in-character gen to pairingfic of any kind. Because the point of Nobuta is about true friendship. To some extent this is true of House too - it is has blatant homosexual undertones, but the beautiful, comfortable, poignant and platonic friendship of House and Wilson is part of the point. I don't need fanfic for these shows the way I do others because what canon gives me is enough. Fanfic for these shows is beautiful and wonderful and unnecessary for me, I think. I love it when it is good; but I don't think I need it to fulfill anything that the canon hasn't already put in place.

The part where Hikago is really gay and otherwise this section doesn't really have a point

Hikago is different for me, however. The entire POINT OF THE SHOW is: Hikaru and Akira are destined to be together. To me, lol, on a very ridiculous blatant self-indulgent level, Hikaru no Go fanfic that does not get on with the business of letting them just fall in love and play each other forever already is, in a way, sidestepping the inevitable purely to be coy. We all know they are married. No two people in any canon that ever canoned been more married than Hikaru and Akira. I include Brian & Justin in this sweeping blatant over-generalization, as well as every yaoi pairing ever. I include Tezuka and Ryoma in that and they even had a marriage ceremony officiated by 14-year-olds on a tennis court where they exchanged flying tennis balls for wedding rings.

For Hikago, I don't *need* fanfic to *tell* me that they're married, because the beauty of Hikago fanfic for me is found in the journey through which they realize they are, in fact, so married to each other, and that they want to be, and that they are each other's destinies. by the end you know that this is true love without anyone ever actually saying it. Without actually ever being that subtextual, even. Their feelings are so intense for each other that there is no room for subtext. Everybody in the Go community knows these two kids are meant for each other. They encourage the obsession. THE UNIVERSE WANTS THEM TO BE HAPPY TOGETHER FOREVER. Hikago no Go canon implies a soulmate journey that I was initially drawn to in Harry/Draco (oh, oh, oh), and it is completely structured around that soulmate journey.

And then it cuts off mid-journey, with the words, "it never ends." It reminds me a lot of the ending to Angel, with the implicit message 'and the fight goes ever on' at the core of the (lack of) resolution.

The purpose of Hikago slash fic to me is describing the rest of that journey - where it goes, how everyone in canon grows and develops, and how they all pursue the hand of god together. I read two Hikago fics yesterday that made me so ridiculously happy, not because they were slash (neither of them were - one was "Left-Handed Go" by tsukikoushi and the other was murinae's incredible in-progress AU which I need more more more of), but because they were all about that journey, that progression, and how both Shindou and Hikaru are going to push each other to grow and move forward no matter what.




In every slash ship I've ever fallen in love with, this dynamic of a secure rivalry that develops into an equally secure partnership has been its major element. This is also, in a nutshell, why Tezuka and Ryoma to me have the greatest soulblindingly pure love ever in my heart, because they are very much like Hikaru and Touya with even *more* awareness of their own need for each other, even more desperate need to keep each other in their lives (and a lot more sexual intensity, if, uh, 12 year olds can have sexual intensity. shut up stop looking at me like that).

However.
Tezuka and Ryoma do NOT have a canon that states with utter resounding authority that they are going to be together, that the entire point of canon was pretty much just to *bring* them together, and that their being together is part of a long, destiny-approved march through time and eternity. That is what puts Hikago canon at the top for me, the pinnacle of all other slashy canons vying for the title of "slashiest." If by "slashiest" we mean "most canonically likely to end in boys falling in love forever." :(
TezuRyo is only a short level below it, though, because Tenipuri canon is structured so that Tezuka and Ryoma *are* the focal point of canon, whether it says so explicitly or not. Their interactions are the most important dynamic of the series, their interactions *shape the plot* of the series into what it is, in a way that none of the other PoT pairings do, and every single season opening/ending and every single major match, even when Tezuka isn't even *there*, is framed in terms of how this match affects the development of Tezuka and Ryoma's tennis. The Fly High credits occur where they do for a reason. Tezuka and Ryoma get their own opening credits twice, in the Rikkai arc which blatantly foreshadows the end, and then the final arc when they have their last game. And just. Without being canon, the Tezuka/Ryoma dynamic informs everything that occurs *in* the entire canon.

A level below that, I believe, is where you will find Nobuta, where the intensity of the slash is blatant and fanservicey, and where arguably one or both of the characters is subtextually gay, but where the emphasis is on something completely different, aka the fact that love and friendship is the most beautiful thing in the world, and where the dynamic between two characters never ever overemphasized at the expense of a larger, more universal (heartchurningly lifechangingly beautiful) look at love in all its forms. Oh, Nobuta. :((

Slash as an unanswered question

I really feel that Nobuta slash is gratuitous. Not only is it gratuitous as a commentary on Nobuta canon, but (as soundczech and I were debating the other day) it might even arguably undermine the point of canon. I don't think it has to, personally, because I love Nobuta slash; but that feeling, that slash (and even genfic) is superimposed on something that is basically complete and full as-is, makes me extremely picky and wary of how I want my Nobuta fic written. Nobuta femslash - a bit different because i do feel there is more to say about Nobuta's relationships with the other girls. But no combination of Shuji/Akira/Nobuta, slash or het, could fill any kind of hole left by canon. There is no hole in my heart. And I know there are people who feel that attempting to slash even subverts canon, implies that there *is* something more they need from each other to be happy, when there isn't.

I believe slash is always written, at least in part, to answer an unanswered question: it could be what if these two people were attracted to each other? but it could also be what if these two people discovered more in their dynamic together than they currently have? Asking the question, and answering it through the writing of slash, is every person's perogative. But for me, certain canons beg certain question more convincingly and thoroughly than others. House just slavers the question all over you. Nobuta, not at all. The questions are there, but irrelevant. Their canon dynamic is enough.

And then, Harry/Draco. A level below Nobuta pairings - canon subtext, very slashy, but the character dynamic itself is not in any way the main focus of the series. But I think that Harry/Draco is a perfect example of the reason most people start slashing to begin with - there are too many unanswered questions, too many 'aha' moments of subtext that could be easily misconstrued, but which aren't even acknowledged by their canon in satisfactory ways.

Convergence (Henry Jenkins-style), and also: why H/D lost that lovin' feelin.

I would actually argue that Book 6 does acknowledge Harry/Draco slash the same way that House writers acknowledge the House subtext with very meta, fanservicey lines like "House would do Wilson before [two characters who are actually sleeping together would sleep together]." But it's a different form of acknowledgment. It's the acknowledgment of a fannish interest that generated subtext as much as it responded to it. Subtextually, there isn't much difference between that and "Harry was rapidly becoming obsessed with Draco Malfoy."

Moreover, the Harry/Draco dynamic arguably does take center stage to a large degree in Book 6; and this gets into arguments that I will be exploring in detail during my panel with Henry Jenkins, tillytilly, kitsune13, and elements at Phoenix Rising. You can, I believe, see JKR's strong awareness of her fanbase in book 6, to such an extent that the huge fanbase for Draco Malfoy arguably was both extrapolating from his main-character potential, and at the same time creating that potential. Would Book 6 have featured Draco so heavily had millions of Draco fans and millions of fanfics about his character not existed first? I don't think so.

Another fabulous example of this is SGA. John and Rodney were not a canonically acknowledged ship initially. The fan interest in the show revealed a legitimate subtext, but not an intentional one. And then the fan interest became focused on their dynamic, and the ongoing comical gay subtext quickly became equal parts what the fans responded to and what the creators wrote for the fans to respond to. This is convergence culture working on a fandom, in a fandom, and simultaneously working upon the canon too.

However: once a show - or, say, a book series in its sixth installment - acknowledges or in some way legitimates or validates a fanon pairing that has previously been identifying itself based on what has been lacking in canon, what happens to the pairing? The question has been, in some way, asked for us by the creator, instead of by us. It throws us. I think that HBP was so slashy that it threw H/D shippers off our game. I know that's what it did to me. I felt as if I were reading Harry/Draco fanfic during certain parts of Book 6; and suddenly, my ship was no longer something that I had extrapolated from canon and worked through over the years; it was something canon was giving back to me. Draco had gone from being someone I had to pull to center stage, into the forefront of Harry's attention, to someone who was there already, center stage and completely the epitome of everything I'd wanted him to be.

The nature of the question for me had changed. And suddenly it felt as if canon might be enough. Slash might not have any further commentary to make on this pairing.

Is it? I don't know. I don't think I'll know that til I read Book 7. And I think, honestly, that is why H/D fandom has felt so fragmented and so unfocused this last year and a half. I don't actually feel really in-tune with H/D fandom anymore; but where are the major full-length fics, the massive in-depth explorations of canon post book-6? (Not that we ever really had that many, but) the fics that really analyze Harry and Draco's dynamic at this stage of the game aren't there. Fics are either set post-canon so that writers still have something to create, or they focus on established relationships or porny one-shots.

I want to see more Harry/Draco fics like "Finer Than Spring," like last year's Big Bang - fics that aren't afraid to tackle H/D as they are now. Because those writers are seeing the unanswered questions that I can't see right now, just at this moment in canon.


Bottom line? I don't think the type of validation that comes from a fanpairing gaining acknowledgment from its canon as time goes on is the same as a fanpairing that has been acknowledged from the beginning. House, M.D. has always written intentional House/Wilson subtext while using its own unanswered questions as fanservice - audience-teasers to keep us intrigued about the nuances of their relationship. Harry/Draco is a fan pairing that gained more and more validation from canon as time went on, and more and more actual acknowledgment from canon in the way their dynamic was treated and dealt with. (You could say the same for Harry/Ginny. ;;))

And as for Hikaru no Go? Best of everything. Best of everything. Hikago canon is an epic slashfic without the slash. It's got canonical acknowledgment without being fanservice: it deals straightforwardly with its pairing and does not bother to ask whether this is gay, slashy, subtextual, or metaphoric, because love is love, and Hikaru and Akira are soulmates.



so. my fandom pyramid of "Canonically Slashy" ships in the fandoms I consider myself currently in are, in descending order: Akira/Hikaru (HnG), House/Wilson (which i identify as "my fandom" even though i was technically only in the fandom proper for like a month 2 years ago), Tezuka/Ryoma (Prince of Tennis) - even though their love will take over the universe, Shuji/Akira (Nobuta), - even though it's gratuitous! superfluous! redundant! unnecessary! (and, once in a while, wonderful), and Harry/Draco. That's not a ranking of preference, but rather a ranking of how I feel the pairing dynamics as we see them in fandom are dealt with in canon.

Possibly I could have said that and skipped flirting with livejournal's character limit. uh.

oops.
Tags: fandom, h/d, hikago, house, meta, nwp, pr 2007, recs, sga, shindou is cute in my icon, slash, tezuryo
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