RWBY (Fandom) & Shipping

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Edit: This was originally part of my “The Appeal of Shipping” post, but ended up becoming another rant that was too long (and got in the way of what was supposed to be a “positive post”) and might have spiralled out of control.

Not to turn this into a rant about shipping and how you should ship (there is no right / wrong way), but I just want to get this RWBY rant off my chest. Sun and Blake’s implied relationship early on was fine. It made an immediate impression during Sun’s appearance, but not only did it quickly die down, and not bother to commit (or dedicate much) to giving them proper screen time together, as well as Sun generally be hardly present in the show, it didn’t even do a good job at developing a dynamic between them. The Faunus connection between them isn’t enough to form a relationship. Their moments together are few, impotent, and ultimately insignificant to the point where if they do end up together it will feel like a lazily done “Boy Meets Girl” trope.

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The determining factor for a ship (for me at least) is the affinity between characters; having scenes emphasize their connection and compatibility. If there are virtually no scenes where the characters strongly indicate their attraction for one another, or the narrative makes any romantic implications feel forced and awkward (as if appeasing to traditional tropes, but not bothering to exert any heart or ingenuity and make them feel believable) and they still end up together…

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I’m left baffled, annoyed, and insulted. Especially, if I like the characters (or one of them) and want them done justice. Relationships ARE character development. If you pair otherwise great characters who have little to no chemistry together, you are doing BOTH of them a disservice (Sun’s an awful character by the way).

If they had spent more time building up Sun x Blake and properly acted on their scenes in an unambiguous, non-generic “they’re going to end up together” way, (that doesn’t involve cringe “humour” or Sun constantly being dumb as bricks) and maybe had Sun hint at his past and then piece by piece reveal more about himself until he let’s Blake know everything and maybe it turns out Sun had a worse past than Blake that he’s ashamed of and running away from too… I’d be okay with that. There would be something of a connection between them there. But we don’t get anything like that. All Sun is doing right now is among the lines of “You’re a faunus, right? Me too! What are the odds!-Let’s have kids!”

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I ship characters who are both interesting on their own, and have an even more interesting dynamic together. The casual (hardly developed and lazy) “romantic” implication the series is giving off is that Blake will get-together with Sun, Weiss will follow suit with Neptune, and Ruby will end up with Jaune. When I say “casual”, I mean that people expect the guys to get with the girls, because it’s been the conventional approach to romance for a long time.

But the hetero-normative vibe between potential pairings is getting in the way of the more powerful relationships within Team RWBY: Bumblebee (Blake x Yang) and White Rose (Ruby x Weiss). They have not just more, but also more important relationship-building scenes together, which has been dismissed as friendship.

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But I’m left confused as to why they make these “friendship-building” moments so strong, yet make the other “romantic” ones so weak and flat. Interactions are how relationships develop, and comparatively, the ones within Team RWBY are vastly more significant as a result of there being a lot more interactions and tender moments between characters.

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Friendship first, love later

It frustrates me that a lot of people push the “just friends” counter-argument, when the show doesn’t present a better alternative. I know Sun has his fans, but he’s so underdeveloped as a character that he’s practically a two-dimensional caricature. Plus, up until Volume 4, the show itself has literally been sidelining Sun at every opportunity only for Yang to appear beside Blake. If that’s not deliberate foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. Sun has his fans because he’s a comic relief character at best.

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Personally, I don’t really care for comic relief characters (by which I mean the cringe kind where they act awkward and say/do the wrong things so much it pains me to remember they exist), the show has enough comedy through the main characters without adding a character who is specifically made for that. No disrespect to Michael (he’s a cool guy), but he got a bad deal with the character. I didn’t see Sun jumping in to save Blake or even go looking for her when shit hit the fan. That was Yang’s doing.

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Papa Belladonna ain’t havin’ your shit, Sun

I think the main “problem” (for lack of a better word) people have when shipping is they impose their own personal beliefs and (sexual) preferences onto the characters. As a result, I think they overlook the finer aspects of the characters and their relationships. If you ask me, Sun and Neptune’s bromance is far stronger than anything either of them have with Blake or Weiss.

And if the show goes that direction, that would actually make sense (since they’ve built-up their “friendship” more than their “romances”). But for whatever reason, I imagine they’ll just pass it off as nothing more than two friends goofing around or something. Which doesn’t really bother me, but again, missed opportunity.

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RIP Arkos, RIP Gelato

When you present things in a story, ask yourself if it’s going to mean something now or later. If the answer is “no”, ask yourself why it’s there in the first place. Putting things in just for the sake of it, or because other stories have done it before is no reason to recklessly implant ideas in the fans’ heads.

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I agree that it gets the audience hopeful for something to happen regarding that detail. In this case, Sun and Neptune’s bromance WILL more than likely be overlooked as just best buds who are close, which doesn’t really phase me, but I do think maybe have something more than that would add to the development of the two characters (and they are in desperately in need of it).

I do hope the show doesn’t take essentially the easy way out and have Blake and Sun, Ruby and Jaune, or Weiss and Neptune end up together. The only ship that seemed obvious from the start that I am completely OK with is Renora, and that’s due to the small moments that they have shared (for one, Nora getting a little nervous when Jaune asks Ren how to talk to girls because him and Nora are always together in volume two).

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And, it’s fine if they don’t end up together, but I would feel robbed if they didn’t end up together AND also ended up with the predictably boring “alternatives” – which I feel undoes A LOT of character development (especially for Blake and Weiss, since part of their development has been rejecting societal demands and expectations). Don’t know why Weiss would go back to Neptune after his womanizing fiasco during the tournament (he knew she was watching too).

I fail to see what sort of relationship that Weiss and Neptune would have. I can sort of see the other two ships working to an extent (albeit disappointing all the same), but Weiss and Neptune don’t seem to click as a ship. I understand the appeal of the Blake and Sun, Ruby and Jaune, and Yang and Neptune ships, but they all lack what I feel is most important, substance.

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“SUBSTANCE”

They do the friendships of Team RWBY way better than any of the romances they’re implying, which is why I feel those relationships would be better suited to develop into romances. Ideally, you want your romantic partner to also be your best friend, and Team RWBY have far more meaning in their relationships than any of the potential romantic pairings outside of that group (aside from “Renora”, (RIP) “Arkos”, (RIP) “Gelato”, and perhaps “Night’s Watch”).

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This is one I am guilty of

Outside of the show, all ships are fine by me. Some I get on board with because I find them funny or entertaining. While others I either wholeheartedly ship myself and would like see become canon – though, considering the plethora of fanart, I think my desires are already satiated in that department, so I wouldn’t really mind it if they didn’t go down that route – or I disagree with them to the point where if there’s a hint that they could become canon it lessens the show’s appeal tremendously the more it starts to feel like a reality (as in bad / poorly developed relationships tarnishing the characters).

Before, shipping was something I was passionate about. But now, after witnessing and experiencing the comments of the community firsthand (big mistake on my part), I’ve finally seen the toxic side of something that’s supposed to be a warm and positive activity. And that passion feels tainted by the spite and condescension of other shippers. It hasn’t ruined it for me, not by a long-shot, but it has added a negative side to it that turned what might have once been a safe meadow into a meadow with snakes and thorns.

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Generally, people hate ships because they’re too popular, and the idea of OC children coming from two female characters is somehow too ridiculous of an idea for them, despite it being set in a fantasy world where things like dust, aura, and magic exist (using RWBY as an example). It doesn’t take that much thought to conceive a believable way for two women in a fantasy world that contains magic and advanced technology to spawn offspring (not disclosing any ideas, I’ll leave that to your imagination).

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Welcome to the fandom

Regardless, it’s a fun and harmless notion (which has produced some amazing and adorable fanart), and not something that’s ever going to happen in-canon anyway, so what’s there to get riled up about? The ones making those OCs are fully aware that they won’t become canon characters. So why do they make them – because it’s enjoyable and makes them happy.

Don’t go around ruining other people’s enjoyment just because you’re so fixated on one little detail being too outrageous for you to ignore, let alone entertain. They make wonderful art, so focus on complimenting their ability, rather than obsess over any logistics of their decisions.

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The creators have even stated they’re deliberately avoiding fanart and fanfic so as not to plagiarize their stuff. I imagine they’re aware of the ships (since the actors are), but RWBY doesn’t seem to want to head in the romance direction. So, temper your expectations if you’re a die-hard shipper (especially of characters with little to no interactions – looking at you Ladybug shippers).

I know the feeling of wanting ships to be canon (believe me, Bumblebee, White Rose, and Night’s Watch happening in the show would be dreams come true), but I feel like I already have the better experience of those ships being realized through the amazingly drawn and often hilariously written fanart (probably because the characters are more fleshed-out and funny in them).

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It’s supposed to be an enjoyable activity that stretches your imagination. Don’t let it get the best of you and make it into something harmful. Enjoy your ships, be mindful of others, and accept (or criticize, without resorting to insults or threats) whatever happens in the show.

~ Ace

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