Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Inane Ramblings About Fanfiction Trends: Touhou Edition

Welcome, those unfortunate enough to stumble upon this blog, to a slightly different post than usual. This time, instead of cherry-picking a random fanfic to comment on in a desperate attempt to be funny, I instead tackle a certain cliche/trope/concept as a whole, in order to moan about how much it irritates me. I assure you, this is quite the productive use of my time.

There're certain trends that fandoms seem to follow, I noticed in my search for stories to read. Reoccurring elements and plot lines that seem to universally adopted by every fanfic writer for no particular reason, beyond general laziness or... just not being much of a writer to begin with.

Today's fandom shall be Touhou Project, and the most sinful of fandom cliches that the series could possibly spawn... male original characters.

Image by altronage
Gaze upon him and despair

"But RandomVideoPeruser!" My imaginary audience queries in unison, "whatever is the problem with guys?" And the answer to that is... absolutely nothing! Male OC's aren't a problem in and of themselves at all. That much is blatantly obvious.

However, Touhou is one of those series where every named character, except for like two or three, is female. Out of well over a hundred. Probably 150+ characters at this point. It's hard to keep track between all the media Touhou incorporates. Either way, the only guys you'll ever see in Touhou are a pink cloud who is effectively an extension to another character, or a shopkeeper who's only really appeared n a few manga stories.

So what exactly is the problem with using male OC's? It's obviously not an ironclad rule that only girls exist in the setting. Well, again, there's no problem with it. The issues come not just from the idea of 'let's create a guy' and more... 'let's create a guy for the sole purpose of being stronger than every single canon character. And make a harem out of them all'.

A tiring trend I've noticed is the sheer abundance of "a perfectly ordinary guy is transported to Gensokyo for no reason, befriends whichever character had their name picked from a hat, and I guess he has a super ultra important destiny to fulfil". I'm sure there's been one or two good stories made with that formula, but this idea kind of ran its' ground years ago, and more importantly, I never cared for it, so there.

As of late, though, there's been a twist or two to freshen up the formula. These days, there's a lot more 'OC knows they are an OC and won't shut the hell up about it' stories, which is just riveting. As for the reason these people tend to get pulled into Gensokyo? Yukari. Just Yukari. That is generally as far as the explanations go.

I get it. Yukari's a mysterious lady who acts in mysterious ways for the sake of Gensokyo as a whole. She also generally has a goal in mind when she sets things into motion, instead of just inexplicably dropping the first fifteen-year old she comes across into the youkai-infested forest with no explanation. Or even a hello.

Returning to the 'OC stronger than all canon characters' concept, keep in mind that in this setting, we have someone with somewhat-limited reality warping, someone that can kill with a thought, another who can literally fly outside of reality (and that's just the three characters explicitly stated to be far weaker than another character in the series, even if they all teamed up against said person). Obviously, people can and have made female OC's that are just like that, and that's also dumb, but the sheer abundance of male self-inserts with these attributes is pretty insane.

Now, is there a point to my rambling? Well, no. It's a ramble. Rambling is pointless and I'm grumpy.

Damn kids, not letting me complain on the internet. Back in my day...

But sure, let's tie it all together in a clumsy manner, for the sake of taking something out of this. Putting aside the part where a lot of fanfic authors are probably pretty damn young, have nothing else to do and will probably forget about their fanfic five minutes after posting a cliffhanger opening... some advice to take, at least as far as Touhou stuff goes, is... make your character compelling, Male or female, what a reader wants is to be invested in the main character.

How to make them compelling? Well, for a start, don't make their description boil down to "Is basically my favourite character, but stronger/faster/their identical sibling/their Shadow, the true self". They need an identity. In the context of Touhou; why would Yukari whisk them to Gensokyo? No need to answer that immediately, but make sure you have a reason. What about them is so special that Yukari is not only aware of their existence, but only this OC of yours is uniquely suited to solve the problem that hundreds of others can't?

Hell, do they even need to be the main character? Considering the canon roster, you already have all the characters you'll ever need to write something out. Your OC could be a mere shopkeeper that occasionally gets screentime when things happen in the village? A generic youkai who may or may not be on speaking terms with, say, Rumia?

Of course, not everything needs to be some epic threat to all of existence, either. Touhou Project is ultimately a pretty light-hearted series, with rare moments of something more serious. Often times, the most serious problem of the day is whether or not one can be bothered sweeping up leaves. Sometimes, a setting is better suited to daily misadventures, than they are cataclysmic horror stories.

Image by Zerochan
Even if the best character is a terrifying monster that
no one else can defeat so don't bother stating otherwise

So, in short; if you want to improve as a writer in general, seek help from elsewhere. All I can do is point out the obvious and pretend I'm smart for doing so. Otherwise, I hope what little advice I can offer is of help in your future endeavours.

Now, back to making myself feel better with games anime various other activities fanfics.

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