Monday, September 22, 2014

Fanfic Retrospective - My Way to the Championship

My Way to the Championship was an important Fanfic for us for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was something that was new and current; up until that point, most of our source material was taken from older sources. Many of the fics that we were working with could have existed (and often did) during the “classic” Elmer Studios era. In My Way, we were working on a fanfic that was, in turn, based on a series that was currently being broadcast.

The second was its status. For the most part, we had been handling fics that were either long ago completed or, more often, long ago abandoned. In My Way, we were looking at a fic that was in the process of still being written, with new chapters coming out as we were working on them. That’s about as current as it gets.

My Way ran to twelve chapters, plus the OC profiles that were worth several more in and of themselves. The result was that it is one of the longest fics we’ve ever done here, both in terms of chapters and actual wordcount.

MSTing of Badfic of Crackfic

Gundam Build Fighters was described as “Canon Gundam Crackfic”, with the addition that this was actually a good thing. And while both the MSTers were eminently enjoying it, we also realized straight away that GBF fanfic would be a rich potential source. Given how colourful the source material was (to say the least), logic held that the fanfic should serve as a multiplier of sorts, making for some truly psychedelically bad (and fun) fic to work with.

While we found several potential fics, My Way to the Championship stood out among them for a number of reasons. While its size and average chapter length were actually nicely desirable, there were a number of other factors that made it incredibly good to work with.

I *really* like Zabanya

Given that My Way was to be an entirely OC-based fic, the new cast would obviously be vital to making it work. In that department, it did not disappoint at all. Kale Cassel was a wonderfully bad character, one who in and of himself gave us a lot of material. His obsessive love of Lockon Stratos and Zabanya and the need to remind the readers of both near constantly was a nicely amusing trait that quickly became running gag material (“Not even for a pile of disturbing Lokon doujins that are not fit for human consumption?”)

However, Kale’s “endearing” traits didn’t stop there. It’s fair to say that everything in the fic was engineered so that he would be the centre of attention, no matter what. The opponents in the early chapters were Kale’s personal enemies. The rules of the tournament are set up so that Kale can never be defeated. And not only is he the best at everything, but the fic goes out of its way to remind you of it at every opportunity.

Added to that you have Kale’s parents (who never get names beyond “mom and dad”) who exist solely to prop up their son and make sure that the universe can hand him things on a silver platter. They get him free Gundams that are stolen from the factory, they endorse his model building and don’t mind the fact that he’s skipping out on school to compete and, of course, they build elaborate networks of underground tunnels for his convenience. No, we don’t get it either.

Love Interest Prop

Conversely, Monica held a special place for us for her own reasons. Simply put, she had no life at all beyond being a prop for Kale. She builds him kits, she becomes his girlfriend and that is the sum total of her personality. Half the time the fic even forgot she existed, save for when she was needed to do something for Kale.

On the other hand, she was also the source of one of our biggest issues with the fic. At its heart, Gundam Build Fighters is a light-hearted and silly series about having fun, competing for the love of the hobby and building plastic robot kits. So when the fanfic gives you a character who’s mother was forced to become a prostitute and then murdered while also implying said character had also been sexually abused themselves, then you know that something’s not quite right there.

The rest of Team Kale could have been best defined as  “the amorphous mass that is everyone else”. They had minimal personalities (and yet still more then Monica) and did little beyond, what do you know, propping up Kale. Our own exaggerated versions of them were an outgrowth of this; Kalia (Now there’s a suspect name) being insanely violent and Darren being a self-sabotaging idiot gave them more life then the fic ever did. Personally, we suspect that the fic forgot Raymond existed for a while.

Send me OCs, damn it!

The other aspect of the fic that struck us was the “send me your OCs” element. This is something that’s very current in fanfic writing, and as such, I was glad to have a chance at it. Not that, for the most part, the OCs actually did anything. Most of them wound up being like Raymond; a name, a single vaguely defining characteristic and a Gundam they like, and that was it.

And then there were the Wonder Twins.

It says a lot when a pair of reader-submitted characters effectively take over the Fanfic as they did. For all extents and purposes, those two became more important then everyone else in the fic, save for Kale himself. With each possessing a description that was longer then some of the chapters, and each being written as horrificly over-powered twinks while also being connected to a major in-world figure, it was clear that the pair of them were going to be important to what was to come.

Think about it. The fic’s major antagonists were going to be characters that had been submitted by a reader. This speaks volumes of all that was wrong with the “send me your OCs” idea, as well as the actual writing process itself.

Tone, Flavour and Stuff

As mentioned, GBF had its themes and ideas; enjoying yourself, having fun, friendly competition and doing what you enjoy. My Way was all about optimizing your kit to make it as overpowered as possible, crushing your opponent under your foot, being the best at everything and, of course, dead hooker mothers (thanks, fic). It’s not just that it missed the tones of its source, it’s that it missed it by such a wide mark, another factor that made it so eminently usable.

It also suffered from one conceptual problem. My Way was written as sequel fic while the source series was still in progress. The result was that it quickly was “overtaken” by the source, and became very incompatible with the show’s ending and plot twists. There are a number of ways to solve this problem, but waiting until the show is over to write sequel fic is key among them.

These problems seemed to have eventually overwhelmed the fic itself. May Way abruptly halted after chapter twelve, and then was subsequently pulled from This means that the MSTed version are almost certainly the only copies of it left.

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