Iss. 10 || October 17th, 2023

A Few Analytical Thoughts on Self-Ship


Assorted recent thoughts on self-ship. I would like to do a much more eloquent write up on lots of topics but the ability to organize all of my many, many thoughts eludes me at the moment...

- I was in the car the other day feeling a little bit caught up in despair. Out of nowhere, a brief but overwhelmingly genuine thought crossed through my mind. There's something I can look forward to in life, presumably forever - finding new media and, in turn, finding new characters to fall in love with. I forget exactly how the thought was phrased, but it made a really big impact on me and I felt really calmed and happy. There's an endless amount of chances to fall in love, and each time I do, I'll get to learn something new about myself. That was a very pleasant and peaceful thought that surprised me a lot.

- Was linked this fascinating article about denpa by a friend, and of course the line about falling in love with fictional characters was the one I took the most note of.

> Rather than spending his time on real love, Honda embraces moe, his intense emotions for fictional characters in his favorite anime and visual novels. Honda proudly proclaims, “Moe is the saving grace of the otaku. It never flirts; it never calculates—it offers perfect uncalculated love. Moe is, above all else, self-sacrificing; it asks nothing in return.”

I found this quote really fascinating. Is that one of the biggest draws of moe and otaku culture? Unconditional, self-sacrificing love? That makes sense in a way, especially thinking about how pervasive and popular genki cheerful girls are. Something about the quote also felt very uncomfortable to me, too, however. Is a fictional relationship doomed by its very nature to be one-sided - 'self-sacrificing', as this quote put it, in favor of the real person? Or is this just the remnants of one man's view of real-life women subconsciously affecting how he chooses to engage with a fictional relationship?

The concept of endless, boundless love is not bad on its own - of course that would be a draw of a fictional relationship! They have an endless supply of energy and can always be there for you! It's a deeply comforting feeling. However, the framing of such a concept can perhaps, to a frightening degree, reveal things about the person in this relationship. The difference between the portrayal of 'anime girl who gets super excited to see you because she loves you' and 'anime girl who only exists when she is happy and in love with you' appears surface level but, at least to me, massive at the same time. I think about this sort of thing a lot, especially as someone who tends to focus more on making sure that both sides are happy and attended to the longer I'm in love with a character.

Sometimes it's an active thought - thinking to myself, 'What would they need in this situation? Is there anything they need from me? Are they also having fun?' Other times it comes up naturally, via dialogue in something I'm writing or a sudden thought out of the blue. And sometimes it's more meta than that, when I realize I've been spending a great deal of time and attention on myself, and the discomfort of indulging myself leads me to make sure that I'm being kind and attentive to the other party before I'm allowed to start pandering to myself again. After all, a real relationship can't be focused 100% on one person. These thoughts tend to evolve naturally the longer that I've cared for a character, though in some cases this can also be what makes me get attached to them or fall in love with them in the first place! Though, as I said, this tends to happen more with longer relationships. Characters that I still am more in the 'crush' stage with rather than a dedicated relationship tend to fall more into the square of unconditional love and playful, happy interactions all the time.


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