Published on April 3rd, 2019 | by voxx0
Can Ships Ruin a Show?
Everybody loves a good ship, right? No, not a boat, I mean the concept of two of a fan’s beloved characters in entertainment hooking up for their dreams. I guess it’s only human nature willing certain characters to fall in love. After all, we do it in real life. However, when does an obsession with this style of story go too far? Fandoms are normally the reasons theses “ships” gain such a massive amount of traction, and as such writers like to cater to those fans, but this, however, can at times be damaging or frustrating.
Let’s start with shipping in Anime. Now, I am fully aware that Japan see relationships in a much different way to how we do, but it’s no secret some manga writers love teasing characters to get together, only to end up doing nothing with it. Some animes are almost wholly built upon this idea of shipping, with the females getting labeled “best girl” in a massive variety of personalities and sexual tensions with the main character. You can see this in ‘Clannad’, ‘Toradora’, ‘Golden Time’, ‘Mysterious Girlfriend X’, yet these are primarily in a romance genre, and they do both share this teasing and fulfill the promise of two characters falling in love. It’s when an action anime teases romance on the side but doesn’t follow it through which is frustrating. Take ‘Fairy Tail’, for example. I really enjoy this show but dear God they are constantly teasing relationships and then finding excuses to put them in situations together, sometimes creating entire filler episodes that are dedicated to them, when really this isn’t what the story is about.
TV is also notorious for creating ships, as episodic storytelling definitely caters for it a lot more with more opportunity for more story arcs that explore characters in more depth, which they tease or abuse to keep viewers engaged. ‘The X Files’ was famous for the will they, won’t they dynamic between the two main characters, though for the most part this did work in connecting the episodes as a whole story, due to the monster of the week formula that kept introducing new stories. ‘Once Upon A Time’, on the other hand, handles ships and characters so poorly it is truly a special case. ‘Once…’ is already rough in the writing department, with great concepts often executed dreadfully, but the ships that dominate the writing are insanely bad, making most characters come across as unlikeable or stupid. After the first season, which was written solidly enough, all logic leaves the show, turning good or at least redeemable characters into selfish idiots who do nothing but pine for or tease their other “true love”, no matter how stupid it is. It is getting ridiculous, and they are breaking the show’s rules for this.
Shipping and romance does appear mostly in an episodic formula, but even with films we see it too, and they are just as guilty. Many are giant successes and focus primarily on the love triangle aspect of shipping, which if handled well can actually be ok, but handled badly can be absolutely horrible. ‘Harry Potter’ has a decent level of focus on this side of shipping, as it is merely a mini side plot and doesn’t take away from the story. It is also a good example of movie shipping as there are many installments to build up good relationships gradually. Then you get the poorer examples of film series romance, such as in ‘Twilight’ and ‘The Hunger Games’, where the fandoms get so touchy and rage-infused about their ships it’s questionably unhealthy. This is because these films milked the relationship aspect of their franchise, putting too much focus on it in the exact same structure that inspired so many more toxic movies, like ‘Maze Runner’.
Yes, ships can be entertaining, as long as they are handled well. If handled carefully in a romance or as a side plot with greater meaning, they can create some very iconic character moments and great storytelling, and keep the viewer satisfied or craving more. If done badly, however, I truly do believe they can ruin any form of entertainment that would otherwise have great potential, and we need to start seeing less of this.
- By Samuel Wood