2021 Certainly Was Something but at Least the Fandom Ships Kept Sailing
The one consistent element in my life.
As we near the end of 2021 and realize that it has certainly been … something … now is a good time to think of the few bright spots that have made the year somewhat bearable. I, for one, will be thinking of my wife and how she frequently sends me headcanons and fanart of the ships we share.
2021 has been a good year in entertainment, and with that comes the potential of shipping. Characters in media often have fanfic-able will they, won’t they energy to begin writing about, only to leave it unfinished in Google Docs and hope that someone with more motivation picks up on your OTP’s “we need to kiss or, if kissing isn’t your thing, hold hands” signals.
So, much like last year, here is a list of the ships that pulled me into a happy place this year. I’m limiting this to anime, television, movies, and video games because if I include books this would be a fifteen-chapter saga full of manga and graphic novels that range from “wholesome queer content” to “straight-up monster f*cking” and “literal dick fights.”
Basically, that kind of thing needs to be its own article, is what I’m saying.
Spoiler warnings for the following:
- SK8 the Infinity
- Animal Crossing
- What If…?
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
- My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission
- Tokyo Revengers
- Given the Movie
- Cowboy Bebop (live-action)
- The Stranger by the Shore
- Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!
- YOU (season 3)
- Sonic the Hedgehog (yep)
An absurd amount of skateboarding
I think what really does it for me with this series (in regards to shipping) is the variety of ships it has going for it. Reki and Langa very much feel like a teenage romance where they fawn over absolutely everything their crush does, meanwhile, Joe and Cherry are the bickering husbands who know each other better than they know themselves. Even the series antagonist has someone who is more than happy to follow him around like a puppy.
Oh. Then Shadow gives Oka flowers in the last two minutes of the series. That quick interaction was all I needed. The heart wants what the heart wants.
The creators of SK8 also keep revealing new information and giving us new art that further drives the ships we have. Creator interviews and promotional art just scream SHIP EVERYONE. Suddenly, Langa’s making an omelet for Reki in his apartment and the two are constantly given art where they’re going out on food dates. Joe and Cherry, as it turns out, have known each other since childhood, well before the flashbacks that are in the series.
And don’t get me started on Cindereki, the drama CD where Reki dreams that he’s Cinderella with Langa being the Prince Charming he skateboards with.
Yes, I’m being serious.
This is what love looks like.
Hades reminds us that Zagreus has two hands (and the Underworld has a LOT of ships)
I finally got around to playing Hades this year and it completely consumed my entire essence for months. This might be one of the few games where I enjoy every single ship it has to offer. I also greatly appreciate the fact that instead of making Zagreus choose between “please step on me” Megaera and “come whisk me away, death” Thanatos, he can be with BOTH of them.
Why have a love triangle when you can have an OT3?
Also? I have to say, I adore Zagreus and Dusa and how she tells him that she doesn’t have feelings for him in that way but that does NOT mean that she doesn’t love him.
And he understands and loves her right back!
Also? Megaera and Dusa? Precious. Everyone just love Dusa, please?
Of course, the Zagreus ships aren’t the only thing that Hades has to offer. Hades himself is completely and totally in love with Persephone, and I’m pretty convinced that Zagreus’ two moms (Persephone and Nyx) are in love. We get the story of Eurydice and Orpheus, Achilles and Patroclus, and yes, I even have a soft spot for that whiny diva, Theseus, and the handsome minotaur, Asterius.
All and all, there is no having a bad time when it comes to being a Hades shipper.
And just like that … I’m back on my Animal Crossing bullshit
I had stopped playing Animal Crossing on a daily basis until the new DLC. Now? I’m making vacation houses on a regular basis. It didn’t take long for word to get out that you could make Flick and CJ a house and how neither of them would accept getting a house unless if the other could come with.
— Bri Back On Her Yuri!!! On Ice Agenda (@BrichibiTweets) December 16, 2021
How could I refuse? I already shipped them, but now I could make them a house together! What a wonderful update to a ship that’s been sailing since 2020.
I could also invite them out for coffee at Brewster’s.
— Bri Back On Her Yuri!!! On Ice Agenda (@BrichibiTweets) December 12, 2021
Speaking of Brewster… I’m convinced he and Blathers are married. I just am.
What If… everyone in Marvel rode a jet ski?
This is probably the most Marvel ships I’ve had at one time thanks to there being TV series that add more content for these characters. That being said, I haven’t seen all of the Marvel releases from this year (I still have to see Eternals, for example) so if your ship isn’t in this batch of ships … give me time, I’ll catch up.
I suppose I should start at the beginning with Wanda and Vision, a couple I didn’t feel much for in the movies beyond “I know they get together in the comics,” but after fleshing them out in the TV series? I love everything about them. I love their soft, family moments, their silly moments, their conversation on grief, and watching them share their final moments together hit me in a way that I truly wasn’t ready for.
Honestly, starting the Marvel TV series with a story about love and grief was fantastic, even if I need Kleenex throughout its final episodes.
On a lighter note, I’m convinced that Bucky has major heart eyes for Sam and Sam’s sister, Sarah.
After The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, I prepared myself to dive headfirst into Loki (and his ships). I expected him and Sylvie to grow closer to each other, but I did NOT expect to enjoy his interactions with Mobius as much as I did.
I truly did want some silly, jet ski ending for the two of them.
What If…? was full of ships. Some were old, some were new, and some were aesthetically improved (I’m weak for buff, strong women). Whether it was revisiting Peggy and Steve or discovering that, wow, Nebula calling T’Challa “Cha-Cha” is hot, the series was a fun way to look at two characters and go, “Huh. What if Peggy and Natasha got drinks after this massive battle?”
This next ship from Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings speaks to the part of my brain that likes it when powerful men like Xu Wenwu fall hopelessly in love with women like Ying Li because she bested him in combat.
Also? Tony Leung. Honestly, the cast is a bisexual fangirl’s dream come true, but Tony Leung? That’s it. Send tweet.
And while I’m eternally grateful that Shang-Chi and Katy remained friends the entire time instead of the movie having them hook up, I wouldn’t be mad at Katy getting together with Shang-Chi’s badass sister, Xu Xialing.
This is the part where I thought I would be done writing about Marvel, but then I finished Hawkeye and now have Yelena and Kate on the brain. I mean, the girl made her macaroni and cheese! Yelena is definitely a keeper.
My Hero Academia: World Heroes’ Mission was kinda a high-action rom-com, huh?
As much as I am BakuDeku trash (I have a lot of Deku ships, tbh) and greatly appreciate their progress in the manga, this movie? Was an action/adventure rom-com with an extremely likable love interest.
Rody and Deku have such great chemistry together. Two good boys who want to do what’s right in regard to protecting the people they care about. Deku’s never really encountered someone who wasn’t a full-on villain, but not all that interested in heroics, either. Rody’s just trying to survive, and it’s something that Deku, obviously, comes to understand and respect.
Their banter is adorable, their scenes together are fun, and they get a lovely send-off where we get to see how Rody really feels about Deku.
I’ve accepted Rody as one of Deku’s many shippable boys, though he may be the one I’m most sad about because we’ll probably only see him in the movie.
My angsty ship could use some peyoung yakisoba
While Tokyo Revengers has a couple of ships I’m a fan of (Draken being Mikey’s heart, for example, but I also think Emma’s crush on Draken is cute, too), I cannot believe how much Baji and Chifuyu made me suffer this year – and I read the manga! I knew that Baji was going to die, and I knew that I was going to have to listen to Chifuyu cry as he clung to his body, but watching it happen felt entirely unfair to my fangirl heart.
Not to mention that you get their backstory AFTER Baji dies, learning that the two would share peyoung yakisoba, which is why Chifuyu brought Baji’s half to his tombstone.
Baji, before he died, asked Chifuyu to bring him the food they used to share.
Chifuyu brings it to his grave.
Why is this series actively hurting me?
It’s not just that, though. After these tragic episodes aired, the merchandising for the series turned it up a notch by releasing all kinds of promotional art where the two were spending time together. This isn’t uncommon for anime, as series will release all kinds of new art for a show that puts characters in situations that don’t happen in the series – but it lets fans think of some fun AUs.
When I see pictures of Baji and Chifuyu going to the carnival or sharing headphones all I can think about is the fact that Baji is dead. None of these moments will ever happen for them.
There are ring necklaces you can get for the two where Chifuyu’s says, “I’ll go buy some,” in reference to the peyoung yakisoba, and Baji’s says, “We’ll split it? Right?”
How am I supposed to cope with that?!
That moment when the ship that started in the first season gets its own movie
The first season of Given mainly focuses on Mafuyu and Ritsuka, but alongside them are their older bandmates, Haruki and Akihiko. Haruki and Akihiko have wonderful chemistry together and I spent the series waiting for it to develop into something more.
Except Akihiko is already in a relationship, the kind where they should break up, but they won’t break up even if they both know it’s a mess.
Enter Given the Movie, which completely focuses on Akihiko and Haruki (and Akihiko and Ugetsu, his on-again, off-again boyfriend). The situation isn’t pretty, but it’s honest, and it’s very satisfying to see Akihiko actively work to be a better person so he can be the man that Haruki deserves.
Also? I know Akihiko and Ugetsu are poison, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy watching their relationship play out.
Faye Valentine has good tastes in women
Sadly, this is only for one episode since the live-action Cowboy Bebop tries to have the episodic feel of the original (sometimes), but beyond my brain going “girls sure are pretty,” I really liked Faye having a woman to talk to about her memory loss and identity. While I enjoyed her interactions with Spike and Jet, there are some things that you are more comfortable sharing with a woman, so I’m glad that Faye had some female companionship.
And yeah, maybe I related to the bit about having your first “Big O” with a woman and feeling your mind release the breath you didn’t realize it was holding. Skin is clear. Crops are water. All that jazz, you know? Like damn, maybe the world would be a more chill place if people had a Mel the Mechanic.
You gotta love yourself before you can love anyone else
This isn’t the easiest anime to watch at times as its main character is fighting some major internalized homophobia, so much so that being surrounded by supportive people isn’t enough to convince him that it’s okay to be queer.
However, the happily ever after is so satisfying, and I really appreciate that we couldn’t get to that point until Shun came to terms with his sexuality.
Also? Mio is such a sweetheart. He’s also a bit of a brat, in a cute, “No you may NOT kiss my boyfriend, ma’am,” kind of way, because, well, he’s right and he should say it.
Some wholesome boys love ships involving virginal wizards?
When I first saw the title of this series (Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!) I thought, “… huh?” But a good friend recommended that we watch the live-action series and, my god, it is SO cute!
When Adachi turns 30, he realizes that he can hear people’s thoughts by touching them because he hasn’t had sex yet (just roll with it). He’s surprised to discover that his incredibly charismatic co-worker, Kurosawa, is in love with him. I expected this discovery to take a while to develop, but the series wastes no time in having Adachi realize Kurosawa’s feelings. The main focus of the series is their developing relationship, Adachi fighting through his anxiety, and grappling with his “gift” since it gives him an unfair advantage where he doesn’t actually have to get to know Kurosawa to know what he wants.
Along with those two are the second pair, Tsuge and Minato, who are in a similar situation as the main couple.
Both of these pairings are wholesome to watch, especially when you have characters like Fujisaki, who isn’t interested in romance except for watching it develop between her coworkers.
Watch Cherry Magic, is what I’m saying, to watch some adorable businessmen fall in love.
The one who got away, thank GOD
2021 saw the return of my favorite trash series You as I watched Joe Goldberg once again swear to do better this time which he, of course, didn’t. To be fair (not really, not at all), he had his hands full with his wife, Love Quinn, who should’ve been everything he wanted but, lol, I guess not.
The third season introduced us to Marienne Bellamy, played by everyone’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina girl crush, Tati Gabrielle. I will admit that, initially, I didn’t expect her and Joe to get together, but they do, and it immediately raises every single red flag in the vicinity. I found myself begging the higher powers that be to let Marienne get away and, to my surprise, she does come out of the season alive!
So yeah, this isn’t technically a ship, it’s a sigh of relief because someone Joe was romantically pursuing managed to NOT die for once.
It’s inevitable, don’t fight it
Listen. You know it’s inevitable. I know it’s inevitable. We all know it’s inevitable. It’s also, if you’re familiar with Sonic’s time on the Internet, relatively tame compared to some of the other ships Sonic has been a part of.
This movie is really just putting on the big screen what’s already been in the Sonic fandom for years.
The Sonic and Knuckles rivalry in the film is either gonna create new fans or reignite the fans who have been here. That’s just how it is.
Just wait until Shadow shows up.
And that’s it! I think? I feel like there’s another ship that made me scream over the holidays…
For those of you who hold fictional characters close to your heart, what were your ships this year? How much fanart did you consume and, the real question is, did you write any fic (and turn it into a major motion picture)?
(Image: Funimation/TV Tokyo/Supergiant Games/Marvel)
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