Non Means No!

Warning: This post is mostly a rant and talks about the prevalence of rape in fandom works and canon pieces, along with some disturbing trends that I have noticed over the years. If such discussions are not for you for whatever reason, you should not read this post. Thank you.

There are many fandom-related things that can easily drive me into a rage: people telling other people to kill themselves for their opinions, art thieves, people who post spoilers without warnings… But in the world of fan work creation, one thing reigns supreme in my kingdom of rage. This thing is a tag, a tag that needs to rot in the deepest pits of Hell. This tag is called Non-Con.

If you have read my Fandom Glossary, you know what Non-Con is. Non-Con, short for non-consensual sex, a pretty way of saying “Rape” without actually saying it. It’s a category of smut that, more often than not, involves forceful, non-consensual sex that eventually turns romantic and/or pleasurable, or a non-consensual sex scene that is much more sexualized than it should be.

Know what I like to call that? RAPE! That’s what I like to call that!

This is part of a very disturbing trend I’ve seen in the realm of fiction, a trend that romanticizes characters who force themselves on others, making them seem “tortured” or “dangerous” in a way that is oh-so-sexy. Worse still, the act itself is romanticized and shown as an ultimately pleasurable experience for the victims.

I first discovered this in my high school years, when I was just learning that gay pairings actually existed in the world of fiction. I was a huge anime fan at the time, so I naturally started seeking out Yaoi anime. I checked out some of the big names in the Yaoi-verse, such as Junjou Romantica and Kirepapa. The more I watched, the more disturbed I got.

You see, there was a common trend in these series. The “seme” or more dominant partner in any of these situations had a tendency to force himself on the submissive “uke” character. Sometimes, this meant major coercion. Other times, it meant statements like “If you don’t say anything, I’m gonna take you.” Other times, it was a full-blown assault while the uke vocally protested the entire time. All of these times were wrong and horrible!

I looked up common trends of Yaoi, and found out that rape is a common staple of many Yaoi works. The act of forcing his partner into having sex is meant to show the “uncontrollable passion and love” that the seme has.

Here’s a thought: If you love someone that much, why not try respecting them and waiting until they’re totally ready to have sex? How about that?!

As I grew older, I continued seeing this trend popping up, especially in supposedly-romantic settings. Remember how popular Fifty Shades of Grey was when it first came out? I know people who have said that Christian Grey, a person who raped his partner, emotionally abused her, and put a tracker on her freaking phone, is the ideal man for them.

We’re already familiar with the trope of the romantic, tortured bad boy. It seems that this obsession is taking a much darker and dangerous turn, one where even rape itself is being redefined.

Back to the Non-Con tag. The very fact that this tag exists infuriates me. It implies that what is happening in the story or art piece in question is somehow different from rape, when it isn’t. It tries to soften and sugarcoat a word that is too ugly for the erotic scenario the author is trying to create.

The scary thing is that it’s working! Most works tagged as Rape pieces, actually depict rape as what it is: horrifying, traumatic, and scarring for the victim. Meanwhile, Non-Con works show an eroticized rape scene, followed by some angst, then usually a romantic or sexual conclusion.

Now, I know that rape fantasy is a thing. Some people do get off reading smut of that nature. I get that, but couldn’t we perhaps make a Rape Fantasy tag instead? At least then, it’s being honest about what it is rather than restating a horrible term in a less horrible way.

What really gets me are people who tag their works as Non-Con pieces, and don’t add trigger warnings concerning rape. Anyone not familiar with what Non-Con means is certainly in for a nasty surprise. I may or may not be speaking from experience here.

Bottom line: Non-Con is a tag that needs to die. Also, what we see as rape and how rape is depicted in fiction, particularly romantic fiction, needs to be heavily looked at. Remember, there are people out there who have been convinced that Christian Grey is the ideal man. There are people who think that acts of forced sex are actually physical declarations of uncontrollable love. Worst of all, there are people who either won’t ask for help or won’t think they need to help someone because of this growing mindset. Think about that the next time you’re browsing the M-rated section of AO3.

This has been a full-blown fandom rant from Solora Goldsun. Thank you for listening.

Peace out.


LGBT Characters in Kids’ Fiction

The release of the short film In a Heartbeat has gotten me thinking about a lot of things, namely the fact that it never would have been able to have been released to such a supportive audience a few years ago.

As the years go by, we are entering a new age of hope for many people. It isn’t remotely close to where we as a society should be, but it’s infinitely better than what it used to be. We are on an upward curve where each step means that people in the LGBT community are just a little more accepted than they were before.

This is obvious in a lot of ways: The passing of laws protecting gay rights, the public outrage against Trump’s attempt to ban transgender people from the military, and, of course, the evolution of fiction.

As I usually do, I’ll speak of my own experiences concerning this issue.
For most of my life, my experience with LGBT characters was limited to lesbian, gay, and occasionally bi individuals, and these were generally in shows and books meant for young adults and older. Even then, the characters often felt like two-dimensional caricatures that were made simply to be “the gay character.” More often than not, these characters were in anime, and were therefore only accessible to people who were specifically looking for them. Anne Rice’s vampires were a blessed exception.

The idea of having gay characters in kids’ media, obviously, was almost unheard of. There was an ongoing belief that exposing children to gay characters was a bad idea, that it might influence them to “be gay,” and that it was overall inappropriate. Hell, this attitude still prevails today, even more so when it comes to trans characters.

Things changed minutely, and I mean very minutely, when J.K. Rowling came out with the knowledge that Albus Dumbledore is, in fact, gay. There was a great deal of controversy over the issue. And…that’s it. It’s never actually addressed in the series that Dumbledore is gay. His feelings for Grindelwald are never shown in a way that makes his gayness obvious. In my opinion, there were a lot of missed opportunities with this character.

Things became a little better with the introduction of Kurt in Glee, a series that, while meant for young adults, was watched pretty religiously by the younger generation. I remember hearing about Kurt and being surprised at the fact that there was a legit gay character in mainstream media. Later on, when he actually entered a relationship, I was stunned. I was so used to the few mainstream gay characters I found being the victim of unrequited love and terrible endings. The “Kill Your Gays” trope comes to mind here.

With the creation of Adventure Time, a whole new wave of controversy hit. The implied relationship between Princess Bubblegum and Marceline evoked such a sense of outrage from so many people, the creators were forced to say that they were just platonic friends. From what I understand, that has mostly ben retconned by certain episodes and even a comic series where they are ruling the kingdom together.

The reaction to Adventure Time, as well as the limitations put on Alex Hirsch when he wanted to show a gay couple in an episode of Gravity Falls, shows that we are not anywhere close to where we should be. Still, we’re getting there.

Probably the biggest victory in the world of television for LGBT representation is Steven Universe. With the supposedly genderless, but still referred to as female Gems, Rebecca Sugar was able to explore relationships in a way that no cartoon has been able to do before. We have a canonically lesbian relationship in the form of Ruby and Sapphire. We have unrequited love in the form of Pearl. We have the potential for a beginning relationship in the form of Peridot and Lapis or Amethyst (depending on how things go there). We even have a gender nonbinary character in Stevonnie. The most recent episodes introduced us to a six-Gem fusion who is clearly meant to represent a polyamorous relationship. And all of these things are shown in a way that is totally normal and understandable for any audience.

The world of children’s books is also catching up with the times. In the Heroes of Olympus series, we have Nico di Angelo, a misunderstood son of Hades who is in love with Percy initially. In Wings of Fire, there have been references to several gay dragons, including Umber, and the lesbian couple Snowflake and Snowfox.

And now, we have In a Heartbeat, a very important short that shows that gayness is not only okay, but that it exists in people younger than high school age, and that it isn’t inherently sexual. It is a simple, cute story about a kid with a crush. That crush just happens to be another guy, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I hope that LGBT characterization in media only continues to evolve from here, and that the next step will be an increase in trans characters and characters with alternate gender identities. The way to acceptance is paved with understanding, and I firmly believe that the evolution of fiction is a reflection of the evolution of us as a society.

The evolution of kids’ fiction, in particular, is very important, as these kids are the next generation. If we keep teaching love and acceptance, each following generation will be better than the last. Every LGBT character is a chance to show that we are people, nothing more, nothing less.

Who knows? Maybe someday, we’ll live in a world without metaphorical closets, where LGBT characters are every bit as common as cis/hetero characters, and don’t cause anyone to bat an eye anymore. It’s a nice dream, isn’t it?

Peace out!

Fandom Spotlight: Scooby-Doo

Hello, everyone. Today’s post is a Fandom Spotlight, where I basically ramble about different franchises I have loved in the past or present, and what my experiences were. For the earlier ones, my experiences were mostly personal and without the influence of an outside fandom. As we move forward more, you’ll see how I became more and more invested in fandom communities over time. Enjoy!

If I was to pinpoint my first ever fandom, I would have to point to the Scooby-Doo cartoons. I started watching them when I was a toddler, and have had an ongoing love for the series ever since. I adored the goofy antics of Mystery Inc. I loved the retro music. I got a kick out of the traps. Most of all, I loved the hilarious situations that Scooby and Shaggy got themselves into, especially when they involved food.

I still remember the first episode I ever watched: “A Halloween Hassle at Dracula’s Castle.” It was from The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which involved Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Scrappy traveling together, though this episode also had Fred and Velma. In this episode, the gang goes to a Halloween party at a castle of real monsters, who want them to help scare away a ghost. It was a simple, fun story, like most of the episodes were back in the day.

Fun fact: Most of the early episodes I saw had Scrappy in them. Since I didn’t use the internet as a small child, I was entirely unaware of the hate that Scooby’s nephew was subjected to. I honestly loved the little guy, and still do. He always struck me as a plucky, excitable puppy who was always ready to fight the bad guys and protect his uncle Scooby. This led to a deep feeling of betrayal when I saw the live-action movie in theaters, and had to see one of my childhood icons become the villain. (Seriously, stay away from the live-action movies. They are trash.)

Scooby-Doo is important to me in a lot of ways. Not only was it the first multi-episode show that I really got invested in, but it contained my first ever OTP: Fred/Daphne. I always enjoyed the relationship between the two, especially since they never got mushy with each other or kissed. (Young me wasn’t a fan of kissing.)

As I grew up, I became exposed to other, more modern series in the Scooby-Doo universe, including A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? The latter series was, in my opinion, the last good series featuring Mystery Inc.

And now I’m entering Unpopular Opinion Territory… Here it is: I did not enjoy Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about how I’m a “Scooby-Doo purist,” I was honestly excited about the series when it first came out. I loved the idea of a darker, ongoing plotline involving the characters I knew and loved.

The problem was that these weren’t the characters I knew and loved! Fred was a trap-obsessed moron instead of the level-headed leader I grew to know. I mean, he was dumbed down a bit in What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, but not this much. Daphne was a Fred-obsessed fangirl, effectively ruining what had once been my biggest OTP. Velma…oh lord, what did they do to Velma? She was a crazy, manipulative bitch who constantly tried to get in-between Shaggy and Scooby due to being in a relationship with the former. Hell, even Scooby didn’t resemble the cowardly, lighthearted dog I knew. I specifically remember one episode when he found out about Shaggy’s relationship with Velma, and refused to talk to him, insisting that his best friend choose between him and Velma.

Seriously, what the hell? The Scooby I know would never put Shaggy on the spot like that! In every situation where Shaggy had a girlfriend in the past, Scooby was nothing but supportive. (Except for the live-action movie, but that was trash, as I have already stated.) There’s also the fact that Scooby Snax don’t exist in this universe, and the fact that Scooby doesn’t even talk the way he’s supposed to. He talks normally, instead of using r’s in most of his words. Did these people even watch the old series?

Honestly, the only character who acted like himself was Shaggy, and that only caused me to hate the series more, since it seemed like the poor guy was always being caught in the middle of a bunch of teenage angst and drama.

Sorry. Getting into ranty territory. My point is that this series didn’t feel like a Scooby-Doo series. If you want a dark Scooby-Doo story where the characters actually act the way they’re supposed to, check out the movies, especially Zombie Island and The Witch’s Ghost.

At the moment, my favorite characters are being represented in the cruddy Stay Cool, Scooby-Doo, and it honestly feels like my first fandom is on the verge of dying. It had a good run, though. And I’ll always have the memories, and the DVDs, from my childhood years.

I’ll always look to Scooby-Doo as my initiation into loving a franchise, growing up with a set of characters who felt like my friends, having an OTP, and eventually writing one of my first fanfictions. It’s an incredibly embarrassing, horribly-written fanfiction, but we all had to start somewhere, right?

Peace out, and Scooby-Dooby-Doo!

The Logic Behind Hate-Shipping

Ah, hate-shipping. You either love it, or…well, anyway. Hate-shipping is when two (or more) characters are shipped together, despite the fact that they actively hate each other in canon. People look at the mutual glares, and choose to see sexual tension. Insulting statements are really veiled flirting attempts. Even physical assault can turn to foreplay when the shipping goggles are in place.

You’ll find it in every fandom, but why? Why do people seem so keen on putting enemies together in a romantic situation? Well, believe it or not, I think I can provide an explanation.

First, we need to look at the history of romance in fiction. Until very recently, there was a common theme in romantic comedies. Look up any old movie involving a romance, and there’s a pretty good chance that the couple in question starts off despising each other. Over the course of the story, we see several hijinks and comedic moments that ultimately lead to them realizing that they love what had originally repelled them. Usually, this moment of revelation comes very shortly before the end, meaning that most of the movie consists of anger and bickering.

With this basis, is it any wonder that people nowadays have similar thoughts when they see characters going at each other? For years, contemporary romance has either been bickering, or drawn-out pining mixed in with love at first sight. Between the two, the bickering relationship is definitely the more interesting one to watch.

Admittedly, there is an appeal to the idea of seeing people develop over time, moving past their differences until they reach a point of friendship. This is especially satisfying if the characters in question are characters we’ve spent time with and have grown to like. Think of Zuko and Team Avatar from Avatar: The Last Airbender. They were enemies for most of the show, but we the viewers saw that there were similarities between them, as well as a sense of nobility and goodness in the supposedly-villainous Zuko, to the point where we were begging for him to become friends with the rest of the main cast. Romance, for many, is the logical next step in that type of progression.

Another reason people like hate-shipping is the hotness factor. Let’s face it: rage kissing and anger sex can be really stimulating to read if it’s done right. There’s a fine line between passion and assault, but if that line is carefully treaded, the reader is treated to a messy, gripping, animalistic scene that is meant to get the blood boiling. Sometimes, that’s all we need.

At the end of the day, however, I feel that the main appeal is simply in the bickering. Let’s face it: We all love characters who bicker. Who are the best friends? The ones who give each other shit, of course! What relationships are the most laid back? The ones where they’re repeatedly dissing each other and then laughing afterward. Hate pairings provide bickering with an extra level of shade, which is always entertaining, especially if both sides give as good as they get.

Ships are built on what character interactions we find the most interesting, and hate is interesting. Even if it wouldn’t work in real life, it’s a thing we can imagine in fiction and have fun with. So, whether you’re a hate-shipper or not, try to understand where people are coming from and respect their ships.

Though please, for the love of all that is holy, do not use hate-ships as a basis for what you think real romances should be like, okay? It’s called fictional shipping for a reason!

Peace out!

My Top 10 Anthropomorphic Animal Works

So, I’m a furry. Some of you may know this already, and some may not. The furry fandom, despite what rumors you might hear, is nothing more or less than a fandom by and for people who love anthropomorphic animals. Some wear fursuits, some do art, some write novels, and some simply enjoy the various anthropomorphic shows, books, and movies out there.

Yeah, funnily enough, there’s a ton of anthro stuff out there, even though we live in a world that regularly mocks the furry fandom. Go figure. Anyway, whether you’re a furry or whether you simply love to touch on your wild side every now and then, here are my top 10 bits of media that prominently feature anthropomorphic animals. Now, by anthropomorphic, I mean that the animals have to act human in some way and speak, so you won’t see works like The Black Stallion here. Also, I won’t be including any Disney movies, as I assume that those are already well-known to you.

#10: Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky

I’m going to say this right now: The movie sucks. It doesn’t exist. Stay away.

Moving on. I read this series as a kid, and I remember loving it. Looking back, it’s easy to see why. This is a perfect story of a heroic journey made by a group of beloved characters who wish to create a better life and defeat the evil forces that oppose them.

The main character is Soren, a barn owl who is kidnapped by a cult-like orphanage that indoctrinates the chicks to be mindless slaves. (Gotta love them kids’ books!) His adventure goes from there to his journey to a legendary place called the Ga’Hoole Tree. He has several friends, including Gylfie the pygmy owl, Digger the burrowing owl, and Twilight the great grey owl. They eventually enter a war with the Pure Ones, a group of barn owls who belief that they are superior to all other species.

I adore the worldbuilding in this series, and the Ga’Hoole Tree is definitely a place I would love to live in. From the emphasis on learning, to the seasons that are named for the color the tree’s berries turn, to the barbecued bat wings, it just sounds like an amazing place.

Now, I do think the series quality dropped a bit after the eleventh book, which is the end of a trilogy explaining the founding of the Ga’Hoole Tree. Still, that’s eleven pretty amazing books to check out.

#9: Jungle Emperor Leo by Osamu Tezuka

You may know this series better as Kimba the White Lion. You’re also probably aware of the scandal surrounding it and the likelihood that The Lion King was largely based on it. I won’t get into that argument here. I’ll just say that the series is good, whether you’re looking at the 1965 show, the movies, or the 1989 reboot.

It’s about a white lion cub named Leo, whose father was killed by hunters and whose mother was killed on the ship taking her to a zoo. He’s forced to return to the jungle alone and become the new king. We see several adventures where he goes up against hunters, tries to create a better society for his subjects, and fights a rival lion named Bubu (or Claw in the English dub).

My one gripe with the series is that it can get incredibly preachy at times. For example, Leo in the 1965 series believes that hunting and killing other animals is wrong and essentially forces all carnivores in his kingdom to become vegetarians. Whenever he meets a carnivore from outside his kingdom, he becomes enraged at the idea of them killing for food.

Still, it’s a good series with a memorable cast of characters. The movies in particular have great storylines and some beautiful animation. The animation of the 1965 show takes some getting used to, along with some sub-par voice acting if you’re watching the dub, but even that has its own charm to it.

#8: The Cat Returns by Reiko Yoshida

This is just such a nice, charming movie (Minus that one scene where Muta almost drowns in the catnip jelly. Seriously, what’s up with that?) Coming from Studio Ghibli, you can of course expect a quirky storyline and beautiful animation. The protagonist is a girl named Haru, who rescues a cat who turns out to be the prince of a secret kingdom of sentient cats. She is kidnapped by the cats, who want her to marry their prince, and is helped by a living cat figurine named Baron, a crow statue named Toto, and a fat cat named Muta.

…Man, these plotlines sound weird when you’re trying to summarize them. Anyway, the world is very enjoyable. The Cat Kingdom is beautiful, as is the Cat Bureau, where Haru finds Baron and his friends. I wish that more time had been devoted to showing the cats and their culture.

Probably my favorite scene in the movie is when a procession from the Cat Kingdom comes down Haru’s street at night. Watching the cats walk on their hind legs, holding lanterns, and shooing away the common neighborhood cats is weirdly eerie.
On the subject of Ghibli movies, I decided against putting Princess Mononoke on this list, largely because the animals depicted in this movie are gods rather than human-like animals. I think calling them anthros would likely insult them.

#7: Basically anything by Kyell Gold

Allow me to introduce you to probably the most popular furry author, known largely for his gay romances. He is incredible at showing the various struggles faced by his characters. Waterways depicts a teen’s journey through discovering his sexuality and facing opposition both from his family and his own insecurities. Black Angel is one of the best depictions of the struggles commonly faced by asexual people that I’ve ever seen. Coincidentally, both feature otters as the main characters.

Now, many of his books do have detailed sex scenes. However, they fit in with the stories and characters in question and honestly aren’t much different from what you’d find in any other adult romance. These include the Argaea books, taking place in a Renaissance-esque world and featuring a sex-loving fox named Volle, who is a spy posing as a noble in an enemy kingdom. This was my introduction to Gold’s works. There’s also the Dev and Lee series, starting with with Out of Position, which depicts the journey of a tiger football player and his fox boyfriend as they navigate their relationship, family lives, and the world of professional sports. While these books are well-written, I have a bit of a problem with the relationship as the series goes on, as it seems incredibly toxic from my perspective.

If you want to go PG, I’d recommend my favorite series of Gold’s: Dangerous Spirits. This trilogy depicts three different characters having supernatural encounters that cause them to rethink their own lives and how to face their problems. Black Angel is the conclusion of that series. I’d also recommend Love Match, which is about a jackal in tennis school, and The Time He Desires, a novella about a Muslim cheetah who is forced to come to terms with the changes in his neighborhood and the sexuality of his son.

Honestly, Gold is a master at using these furry-based worlds to tackle some very real topics. Also, the writing is amazing. Check out any of them!

#6: Ginga Nagareboshi Gin by Yoshihiro Takahashi

I discovered this during a time when I was actively looking for anthro anime. There isn’t a lot, let me tell you, but there is this gem. Ginga is about an Akita Inu dog named Gin, who is born to be a bear-hunter and is given the destiny of eventually killing a bear that has been terrorizing his home, named Akakabuto.

What I really like about this story is that it isn’t from the perspective of the dogs at first. Initially, we see things from the humans’ point of view. In these episodes, we see the birth of Gin, his training as a hunting dog, and the bond he builds with a boy named Daisuke. It’s not until episode 7 that we hear the dogs talking. It’s then that Gin finds a pack of wild dogs that are also fighting against Akakabuto.

It’s a shame that this first series is often overlooked in favor of the sequel series, Ginga Densetsu Weed, because I honestly think the storytelling and characters are far superior.

This is a great adventure story with noble, memorable characters you’d expect from any heroic tale. My one complaint is that in this series, and in the series following it, there are only a handful of notable female characters, and they either end up as house dogs or pregnant, and they frequently are the ones that have to be saved from danger. (Don’t even get me started on Reika from Ginga Densetsu Weed.)

This is an old and largely unknown anime, so it’s a bit harder to find English subs, but it’s well worth the effort!

#5: Wings of Fire by Tui Sutherland

I mean, you had to expect this on the list. It’s basically become the dragon equivalent of Warriors by Erin Hunter, though Wings of Fire is definitely better-written in my opinion.

This series takes place in a world called Pyrrhia, where seven dragon tribes are at war. There’s a prophecy that five dragonets will decide the outcome and bring peace to all the tribes. Each of the first five books is from the perspective of one of these dragonets.

My favorite thing about this series is how different the dragon tribes are from each other, from the cold and strict IceWings, to the good-natured and sleepy RainWings. The further you get into the series, the more you learn about the lifestyles, customs, and abilities of the different dragon species. There’s also an overlying theme concerning the need to put aside differences and come together for a more peaceful world.

I also like that Sutherland doesn’t shy away from the fact that she’s writing about a war. Characters hold prejudices, hate each other, remember the deaths they’ve caused, and are forced to come to terms with many harsh realities. Also, each character has a very distinct and unique voice, making each book very different. Seriously, my list of favorite characters shifted with each book.

If you love dragons, definitely check this one out!

#4: Redwall by Brian Jacques

I would recommend any book from this series, as well as the entire animated television show. This is a wonderful series if you want various character perspectives, good vs. evil battles, and absolutely gorgeous descriptions. In this world, sentient woodland creatures live and try to get by, but are often forced to fight against corsairs, slavers, and other bands of evil vermin beasts.

Basically any of the books can be read on their own in any order, since each one is an individual, self-contained story with different characters. They may overlap, but reading previous books isn’t usually required. And Jacques wastes no time in getting us attached to a new cast of characters every single time.

The books all depict a hero’s journey, sometimes made by many heroes, several conniving, evil villains, and an overall good feeling that lasts after the book is finished. Also, the food descriptions will have your mouth watering. Seriously, vegan food never sounded so good!

I would recommend that you start with Redwall, Mattimeo, Martin the Warrior, and Mossflower. The first, obviously, is the first book in the series and sets a lot of the standards for later books. Mattimeo is the only direct sequel to any book in the series, and has an incredible coming of age story. Martin the Warrior and Mossflower both tell the legend of Martin, the warrior who often visits the dreams of the creatures of Redwall and whose sword is an unbreakable weapon against evil.

The one thing I don’t like about the series is that the goodness or badness of characters is automatically determined by species. Mice, hares, badgers, and squirrels are good. Foxes, rats, weasels, and ferrets are bad. There are very few exceptions. I mean, there’s one book where an otter raised by a vermin band is somehow inherently good, and another where a ferret raised in Redwall Abbey somehow is inherently evil.

That aside, however, the writing is fantastic and the stories are all worth a read.

#3: Felidae by Akif Pirinçci

Don’t be fooled by the cute kitty cats. This is very much an adult book and movie.

The story centers around Francis, a cat who moves to a new neighborhood, only to find another cat dead in his yard. From there begins a murder investigation that delves into issues concerning the relationship between humans and animals, the brutality of animal testing, genetic purity, and what price is too high for the creation of a new world.

And yes, there is an infamous cat sex scene that people often point out in the animated movie. To be fair, the book explains it a lot better, and it definitely has a purpose. Let’s move past that and continue, please.

The main character, Francis, is every bit the noir detective with his cunning mind, ability to piece things together, and his sophisticated personality. The movie largely features a foul-mouthed cat named Bluebeard, who is employed as a way to allow Francis to voice his thoughts on the case, since it’s mostly inner dialogue in the book. He’s in the book too, just not as much.

What’s really interesting is how using cats instead of people changes how the murder mystery plays out. There’s no forensic evidence, no policemen, and no protocol. Dreams had by Francis are considered to be evidence just as much as the journal entries he finds at one point. It makes a world that is both familiar and alien, taking place away from the eyes of humans.

Definitely give the book and the movie a watch.

#2: Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann

Admittedly, I only have the first book in this series. However, I have watched the animated show in its entirety, and it is absolutely one of the best animated shows I’ve seen. The story is about a group of animals forced to flee their home in Farthing Wood and seek a new home at a far-away nature reserve. The first book and season depict their journey, and the oath they take to not eat each other on the way. Later books and seasons show their lives in White Deer Park, which includes having cubs and entering a feud with rival animals.

I love the characters in this series, especially Fox, the leader of the animals. They all have stand-out personalities and different ways in which they interact with each other. There’s also a great sense of continuity. Small conversations and moments that would normally be brushed over in a regular kids’ show are given attention here, and it really makes a difference.

There’s a high body count in this series, and this includes main characters. Some deaths are random and shocking, while others come after much expectation. It makes the series feel more real, and reminds the viewer that this is indeed a world of wild animals.

If you like journeys, stories crossing multiple generations, and detailed character arcs, you will love this series!

#1: Watership Down by Richard Adams

And here we are at the great granddaddy of all anthropomorphic animal books, the one that really brought the sub-genre into mainstream media. On the surface, Watership Down is a story about a group of rabbits who travel to a new home and face several dangers along the way. However, it goes much deeper than that. The struggles of the characters vary from dangerous predators, to a lack of mates, to a cult-like group of rabbits that have forgotten the old ways, to a militant warren that keeps all of its rabbits under strict watch.

The lore in this book is simply magnificent. Every now and then, an entire chapter will be devoted to a story about El-ahrairah, who is considered to be the father of all rabbits in their folklore. They also have a unique language, to the point where almost all of the names have a Lapine translation. For example, the rabbits can’t count past four. Anything more than that is a hrair, or a thousand. Fiver, the fifth in his litter, is called Hrairoo in Lapine, which means Little Thousand. But this is never done in a way that confuses the reader!

This book also has two screen adaptations: the movie and the television series. I would recommend both. The movie, while lacking some scenes from the book, carries on the overall tone and is animated very well. The animated series deviates a great deal from the book, creating its own world and allowing for different character arcs. I normally hate it when screen adaptations deviate from the book, but I actually enjoyed how different this series was. It almost felt like a very good fanfiction of Watership Down.

There’s going to be a miniseries premiering on Netflix this year, and hopefully it’s just as good as the source material, or at least close to it. We shall see.

I’d like to take a moment to remember Richard Adams, who died on Christmas Eve last year. “My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”
So, those are my current top 10 anthro series. Are they the top 10 best in the world? No. They’re just the ones I enjoyed the most and think the most fondly of right now. For those of you who are wondering, Warriors didn’t make this list due to the fact that I haven’t read the books in years because of a rapid decline in writing quality midway through the second series. I would recommend the first six books, however. And the roleplaying community in that fandom is pretty active, which is always a plus.

I hope I gave you some new titles to look at. Read, watch, and enjoy. That’s what we fandoms do, after all.

Peace out!

Personal Story: Improving on Canon

According to my mom, there was a time when she was reading toddler me a book and I commented on how I didn’t like the ending. Her response was: “Well, I guess you’ll have to write a new one.” I apparently said: “Okay. I will.” I have lived by those wise words ever since.

Let’s flash forward a bit to when I was a naïve little high school student who was still getting the hang of writing fanfiction. During this time, my primary fandom was a show called Generator Rex, which was made by the same people who did Ben 10: Alien Force.

It had a pretty cool concept. The entire world has been infected with micromachines known as nanites, which can either sit inert or cause organic beings to mutate into creatures known as EVOs (Exponentially Variegated Organisms). The main character, Rex, is an EVO who can turn parts of his body into machines and also has the ability to permanently cure EVOs by deactivating their nanites. He’s a teenager who doesn’t remember his early life, and is living with an organization called Providence, who uses his abilities to fight EVOs. Other main characters include the kind but no-nonsense Doctor Holiday, the stoic Agent Six, Rex’s human friend Noah, and a sentient EVO chimp named Bobo.

I started watching this show right when it came out, and immediately fell in love with the characters and the world. I watched religiously every week. There were so many things that could be done…and so many things that weren’t done.

This was during the days when Adventure Time was young and Steven Universe wasn’t even a thing. Complex concepts, far-reaching consequences, and mental trauma weren’t things that were explored as often in kids’ cartoons. This, unfortunately, caused the show to suffer. What could have been an incredible, dark, complicated world ended up being full of teen slang, really dark episodes that immediately lightened by the end, really interesting side characters who were tossed to the side after one episode, potentials for very intense drama that were completely brushed over, and a horribly-rushed series finale.

I think this series is what really introduced me to the idea of improving canon with fanfiction. Even though I was frustrated with the shortcomings of Generator Rex, I kept watching because of how much I loved the characters and the concept of the world, and then used what I learned to write quality (for me at the time) fanfics.

A side character with severe psychological issues was given two throwaway episodes. I wrote my longest Generator Rex fic all about her. For a long time, it was the most reviewed Generator Rex fic on Agent Six’s paternal relationship with Rex wasn’t shown in enough detail, in my opinion, so I wrote oneshots elaborating on it. My OTP fo rthe show the show, Holix (one of the few ship names I can say I came up with first), never truly came to fruition in canon. It did in my fics, though!

I then realized that most of my fanfictions were about series that I thought could be improved. That’s why I only ever wrote one speculative fanfic for Harry Potter and none at all for The Lord of the Rings. I honestly couldn’t think of a way to improve them. To me, they were perfect.

Fanfiction is all about showing what you want to see in your favorite fictional worlds. The more you’re not seeing, the more you write, so that these thoughts will exist somewhere, if not in canon.

I find myself in a similar situation now. At the moment, I am primarily a RWBY fanfiction writer. I wrote a few fics during the first two volumes, but not many, because those early episodes were so perfect to me. Most of my fics were cute, fluffy, romantic ideas involving my favorite ships. It wasn’t until later in the series, when the writing started to disappoint me, that I really started cranking out the stories.

Half of my OTP was stupidly killed off, so I now write a ton of stories involving both of those characters being alive and together. Several social issues that were introduced, such as racism toward other species, were brushed over later on. Now, I address those issues in detail in my works. Characters were introduced and forgotten. I give them speaking roles. Characters started acting in a way that felt totally against their character. I write them my way, in a way that feels right and in a way that, according to my readers, fits them perfectly.

Fanfiction, fanart, roleplaying, and other fanworks are beautiful things, because they can give people the stories they want when the creator doesn’t. After all, there are as many opinions and interpretations of something as there are people. Since it’s all fiction, I see no reason to think that the fanworks are any less valid than canon.

And this doesn’t mean that I don’t like the canon works in question. I look back on Generator Rex fondly, despite its shortcomings. Though I rant and rave about current developments in RWBY, I still love the characters, world, music, and good episodes enough to keep watching, if only for the sake of the fanfictions I love to write.

Since I have so many people who love my works, I’m clearly doing something right! I hope that you, dear readers, always find enjoyment in your fandoms, either in the realm of canon, the realm of fanworks, or both.

Peace out!

Five Annoying Fanfiction Trends

I truly believe that certain tropes have their place in the world of fiction and fanfiction. Some, however, need to be burnt in a fire until nothing remains. Here’s a list of five ridiculously annoying things that I regularly see in fanfiction. Why am I wasting time ranting about things I hate? Well, you’re here, aren’t you? That must mean that you care about what I have to say on some level. And who doesn’t love a good rant? Anyway, here we go.

#1- Middle School Smut: Yeah, I like reading the occasional smut or lemon fic. I think everyone has delved into the M-rated side of a fandom at least once. If you haven’t yet, I guarantee that you will in the future.

When you do, you’ll quickly become familiar with the annoying activity of sifting through fics that look as if they were written by a twelve year old girl whose only knowledge of sex comes from American Sex Ed. Middle School Smut gets its name because I am convinced that the people who wrote them are at middle school-age or lower. If they aren’t, then may there be no mercy for the education system that failed them so drastically.

How else does one explain the god-awful grammar, repetitive sentences, and ultra-vague references to the actual parts involved? Oh, and let’s not forget the little hat filled with generic sex-phrases for the character to shout out during the actual act. If I had a dollar for every “I’m cumming!” “Oh yeah!” or “Fuck me harder, baby!” I’ve read, I could probably buy my own brothel, where I could then commission the workers to write something worth reading!

Here’s a wild thought: It’s actually possible to write a sexual situation in a way that is entertaining to read! Try keeping the characters in character. Have them say things that they would actually say in these situations. Most of all, proofread. For the love of god, proofread!

#2- The Mary-Sue Love Interest: I generally don’t read OC fics. When I want to read a fanfiction, I want to read about the canon characters in different situations. If I wanted original characters, I would read a book. However, there are cases where a fic featuring OCs will catch my attention, making me invested in what happens to them.

A Mary-Sue Love Interest fic is not one of them.

These are the fics that are centered around an OC whose only purpose is to be a love interest for a canon character. They were made to compliment the character in every way, and are completely perfect in the eyes of that character. Alternatively, they could be fighting with the character in question constantly, but there’s just something between them that cannot be denied. (Barf.)

Look, if you’re going to make an OC, that’s fine. If you want to make that OC a love interest for a canon character, fine. But please make them a character first and a love interest second. And give them flaws outside of the obligatory quirky ones that you’ll find in basically every YA novel ever written. Hint: An obvious supermodel who doesn’t think she’s pretty isn’t a flawed character. She’s an airhead.

#3- Bait and Switch: This is when you draw someone in with one kind of plotline, build up to a certain resolution, and then snatch said resolution away from the reader. It’s a plot where, at the end, you can see a clear picture in your mind of the writer giving you the middle finger.

Imagine a fic where your OTP confesses their feelings. They share a kiss and hold each other as the sun sets and then BAM! One of the characters wakes up for the whole thing to be a dream and their love to be dead.

Alternatively, imagine a gritty, dark fic that is building to a lot of angsty goodness. The characters are fighting for their lives and aren’t sure if they’ll ever see the light of day again when suddenly lightning strikes their enemies, the sun comes out, and everything is kittens and rainbows.

Now, it’s possible to do a tone shift or plot twist well. Just don’t do it at the very end of the fic. All you’ll manage to do is royally tick off your readers and make it so that they don’t trust you.

#4- Drama for Drama’s Sake: This is annoying in romance novels, and it’s just as annoying in fanfiction. When two characters go for ages without talking to each other, or someone is angry for long periods of time, or things grow tenser than the clenched fists of a fan waiting for their OTP to kiss, there’d better be a damned good reason! Otherwise, I’ll get annoyed and stop reading altogether.

When people are stuck in an argument over something minor, such as a misunderstanding involving one person being in a compromising position with another, it makes me doubt whether or not the characters involved are even intelligent. This also occurs when one character is so distraught over something, they leave for years and don’t come back because their emotions just can’t bear it and the other character pines after them until they finally come back, still broken by the tiny incident that happened years before.

Oh my god, shut up! Any sane person would have moved on by this point. Unless the character in question is canonically insane, there’s no reason for them to be acting in this way. There are plenty of situations that can cause drama, such as a traumatic experience, outside forces disapproving of a relationship, etc.

Now, I’m not trying to belittle people who react in a certain manner to smaller stimuli. However, it is possible to write such scenarios in a believable, not-overblown way.

For example, imagine a character having a meltdown over an upcoming exam. You could show the character going through a panic attack, being comforted by a friend, and going through several awful scenarios in their head. You can have them lash out in a way that makes sense for that character, and then apologize once they’re calm.

However, if you have that character snap and do something uncharacteristically mean and overblown, causing a friendship to be broken for months, we have a problem.

There’s enough drama in the world without injecting more of it into a situation that will be made stupid and unbelievable by it.

#5- Over-the-Top Embarrassment: Ever read a fic where a character is way too shy to be considered in character, ridiculously clumsy, and perpetually mortified by every tiny mistake they make? So have I. It sucks! Few things annoy me more than character tension drawn from one character dwelling endlessly over a minor slip of the tongue.

Now, if you’re specifically writing a fic where you are giving one of the characters anxiety issues, that’s fine. Just make sure to say so in the description, and don’t try to make the situation comedic. If it’s normal for the character in question to be easily embarrassed, that’s also fine.

I’m mostly talking about fics that are trying to create comedy or romantic tension based on one character’s goofy inability to function in society. A classic example is having Character A accidentally spill coffee on Character B. Instead of apologizing or getting over it, Character A runs away. Moreover, every encounter after that is tainted by Character A freaking out over whether or not Character B hates them, even if Character B clearly forgives them for the accident and has moved on!

Again, unless you’re specifically giving the character in question anxiety, this is a stupid and cheap way to draw out an already-boring plotline.
So, yeah. This was sort of a writing advice thing, but more of a rant. I’ll probably come up with more lists like this in the future. Remember, knowing what you do and don’t like to read is a great way to figure out what you should and should not write. If you hate something, odds are good that your readers would hate it as well. If you’re going through your fic and find yourself getting incredibly annoyed with something, change it. Remember, it’s your fic and only you can take the initiative to improve it and improve your own skills by extension.

Peace out!