A great deal of anime and manga fanfiction is written with what we call around my house “Hand of God” writing – i.e., writing that uses a great big emotional trauma as a plot driver. Like taking an established couple from a series and killing one of them off in order to force the other to react. Its a very common tactic in fanfic, especially when people are first trying their hand at writing. A trauma that makes a character react or characters getting drunk to provide a lead-in to sexual encounters are “Hand of God” writing.
For original fiction, there’s no real difference. Soap operas thrive on ridiculous, overstated situations and melodrama to drive their plots. I’m immediately reminded of my youth, when *everyone* was watching Luke and Laura try to find to one-armed boy before the mysterious Australian Robert Scorpio did, on General Hospital. (And let me remind you all that Luke raped Laura earlier in their relationship, but then they became a couple, and after years, finally married with an amazing amount of fanfare and buzz.)
The live-action J-drama, Last Friends, is about 6 people whose lives intertwine deeply. Eri owns a house, which becomes a refuge for friends who find themselves in need of a support network. The friends’ lives are very complex and dramatic and frankly of no interest to me at all, except for the fact that two of them are named Ruka and Michiru and seem *awfully* similar to Haruka and Michiru from Sailor Moon…in a very “Hand of God” fanfic way. ^_^
**There will be spoilers in this post**
Do not read further if you do not want to be spoiled – perhaps emotionally damaged.
That is all.
In this version, Ruka, still a motocross racer and still massively in love with Michiru since high school, is having serious issues about her gender. She simply feels wrong in this body – unable to compete equally in her chosen sport and unable to protect Michiru properly.
And boy does Michiru need protecting. Brought up in an abusive household, Michiru has entered into an extremely abusive relationship with Sousuke. Her inability to see and comprehend Ruka’s feelings for her and Ruka’s fear of verbalizing them sits like a wall between them. Everyone around them is, whether they know it or not, dancing to the tune of this non-relationship.
Adding to the complexity of the polygon is Takeru who is really gay, although he doesn’t know it (this is not in the story so much as in my watching of the story, because he is REALLY very gay) and who has fallen for boyish Ruka. (Well, duh.)
And then there’s Eri who owns the absolutely adorable house they all live in, whose own problems constantly take a back seat to the major drama, and the other guy, but no one cares about him at all.
The best thing about the series is Ruka’s actress. She does a fabulous job of being all but blatantly in love with Michiru in a way that only the deaf, dumb, blind and straight can’t see. ^_^
Now here’s the thing. This story is 99% sure to not have the happy ending that we want. (Really 100%, but I’m being kind and offering is a glimmer of hope.) In the first five minutes of the show, we saw a pregnant Michiru talking about how if things had gone differently, “that person” wouldn’t have had to die. Realistically, what we should expect is Ruka dead by Sousuke’s hands, Sousuke in jail and Takeru and Michiru together to raise her and Sousuke’s baby whom they will name Ruka.
Alternately, Sousuke, who I am far more inclined to call “that person” than Ruka, will die and Ruka will leave to get her surgery and build a new life. Takeru and Michiru together to raise her and Sousuke’s baby whom they will name Ruka.
Of course there’s the infinitesimal chance that Ruka and Michiru will get together at the end, but what’s the likelihood? .0001%?
Because this series is highly unlikely to end in a way I find satisfying, I’ve taken up the hobby of constructing possible alternate endings to the series for fun. The individual episodes are so miserable, that if I don’t do something else with my brain, I get all stabby. I invite you all to join in the in the comments. ^_^ Here’s a few of the alternatives I’ve come up with:
Ruka has her surgery and comes back as a boy, stabs Sousuke in self defense and marries Michiru. Takeru realizes that he is (duh!) gay and lives with them as a housemaid.
Michiru and Ruka realize that they are in love and run away “to America.”
Takeru kills Sousuke and goes to jail. Eri loses the other guy, changes her name to Setsuna and the three of them raise the child together. (This one makes me laugh everytime I think of it.)
Sousuke kills Takeru, we all feel bad for a microsecond, and Ruka, Michiru and Eri raise the baby together.
Sousuke dies and we all have a “ding dong the witch is dead” party at Eri’s adorable house and live happily every after.
Anyway, that’s a small selection of the endings that this series will not have. Feel free to add your own, because that’s about all the satisfaction we’ll get out of this particular fanfic. However, if you are one of those folks who likes WEtv, and enjoys the institutionalized sexism and violence against women of josei manga, this show is right up your alley.
Story – 4 (As we all know, I really loathe violence against women as entertainment for women)
Characters – 6 I’d like to like them more, but this is a J-drama….
Yuri – 4
Loser FanGirl – 8
Overall – 5
If I thought for a second that the ending would be Yuri-friendly, I *might* be able to tolerate the rest of the garbage heap, but I doubt it, really. ^_^
Update: It ended and it wasn’t as bad as expected. Ambiguously happy, which is about as good as we can expect from a J-Drama. “That person” did indeed turn out to be Sousuke. Yay.