Friday, February 14, 2020

Green Phoenix - 8 Favorite Ships

I have an admission to make and given what day it is, I felt like this was as good a time as any to admit this.

I am an unrepentant shipper and a hopeless romantic.

I absolutely adore romance stories in fiction and will actively seek out, or even construct relationships whole cloth, if I feel that the chemistry is present. And when it comes to fanfiction, romances make up the lion's share of my reading history. I just love the narrative depths and dramatic opportunities that romance, including both the pre- and post-start of a relationship.

That being said, I do have certain preferences and patterns with regards to my shipping tendencies. I adore slow burns and long-term chemistry, relishing in the characters enjoying their relationship beyond the first admissions.

But on the same note, I abhor many of the cliches that other shippers live for. So I thought that we could celebrate this Valentine's Day by taking a look at the fictional relationships that are either my favorite or have had the biggest impact on my preferences for romantic subplots in fiction.



  1. Only a single ship from any single property.
    • As an unrepentant shipper, I often possess multiple ships in any single IP. In order to give a larger and more diverse range of relationships, I will only allow a single ship in any single property.
  2. The order is not in terms of preference or the quality of the ships, only an indication that it belongs in the collection of ships.



1. Kim Possible/Ron Stoppable (Kim Possible)

Image result for kim possible ronOf all of the ships on this list, this is the one that probably had the greatest influence on my shipping preferences; as this ship had everything that I was looking for out of it. The relationship between Kim Possible and her sidekick and best Ron Stoppable was one of genuine trust, pleasant romantic comedy, and natural progression towards its romantic culmination. The show even showed them supporting one another in their other relationships, even when it was so obvious that they had some feelings for each other.

The relationship was teased for three seasons in minor ways, but wasn't fully actualized until the second film, Kim Possible: So the Drama. Ron begins to accept his feelings for Kim right as she finds herself a guy who turns out to be the perfect boyfriend. In fact, he is too perfect as he is a clone designed by Kim's most prominent villain to attack her confidence and sense of self. When Kim and Ron are captured, they have a heart-to-heart where Ron admits his feelings, which Kim seems to reciprocate. Following the defeat of the villain, the two go to a school dance as a couple and do the "true love's kiss".

Happily ever after...

...and then the show spent an entire season of the show exploring the changed dynamic of them actually being in a relationship, which almost never happens in fiction. The personalities between the two romantic members worked extraordinarily well in assisting in their chemistry, which was helped by wonderful dialog and a unique show concept that allowed for wacky situations without jumping the shark.

I adored watching these two interact with one another as it felt so very natural and their relationship felt like it progressed to exactly where it needed to go and then evolved the narrative alongside, ultimately creating an even better product.

Overall, Kim Possible showed us a strong and trusting friendship that developed naturally into a mature and fun romance that was both exciting and mundane in all the ways that a real relationship would be.

2. Beast Boy/Terra (Teen Titans)

I need to stipulate that this relationship only covers the relationship as it was expressed in the Teen Titans animated TV show from the early 2000s. It does not cover Teen Titans Go or anything related to any other Judas Contract-inspired media.

Image result for beast boy and terraIn the Teen Titans fandom, this relationship is somewhat controversial, especially given the popularity of the Beast Boy/Raven ship, the negative connotations from other media associated with Terra, and the way that the final episode of the show ended up going. But I just enjoy the drama, pathos and emotional complexity that this superhero romance brought to the show's second season.

Terra was a geomancer (someone who can manipulate Earth) who had difficulty controlling her powers, which isolated her from her peers. During the second season of Teen Titans (whose season-long arc was based on The Judas Contract story-line), she found herself drawn to the Titans because of a shared desire to do good and genuine comradely. And among the heroes that she was closest to, Beast Boy quickly became her best friend and the two seemed to develop a mutual crush.

But the drama began when a harmless comment by the leader of the Titans leaves Terra feeling betrayed by Beast Boy, running off. When Terra returns later in the season, her powers seem much more controlled and her membership in the group is almost instantly accepted. It's at this point that her relationship with Beast Boy goes from friendly crush to genuine romance as the two go on a date, right as an attack occurs on the Teen Titans headquarters orchestrated by their most prominent nemesis Slade.

Beast Boy and Terra avoid the attack due to their date, before Slade interrupts the two, revealing that Terra actually worked for him and that she betrayed the Titans. Terra tries to turn on Slade and help Beast Boy, but when Beast Boy calls her out on her betrayal, Terra leaves to join Slade permanently. The scene of Beast Boy coming to terms with Terra's betrayal is absolutely heartbreaking and makes her appearance in the season finale all the more tragic.

Image result for teen titans beast boy sad
I'm not going to cry.
She returns and absolutely annihilates the Titans, who have difficulty battling their former friend and go underground. Terra and Slade's victory is short-lived though as the Titans comeback and brutally take down Terra, none more so savagely than Beast Boy, who manages to even scare his teammates. The fight continues underground where Beast Boy and Terra argue over her connection to Slade, who has been abusing and manipulating her the entire time. Desperate to save her friends and stop Slade, as well as atone for her mistakes, Terra sacrifices herself to stop Slade.

We then hear almost nothing of Terra until the final episode of the show, in Season Five. It's revealed that Terra's statue form (which she was trapped in as her powers overwhelmed her) is missing after Beast Boy sees a schoolgirl who looks exactly like Terra. The show ended immediately after this episode, leaving Terra's fate mysterious.

This relationship was amazing to watch when it came out. I was drawn to the miscommunication, the drama, and the chemistry of these two super-powered teenagers. Watching them deal with their own anxieties and mistakes filled me with dread and the kind of anxiety that only good fiction can give you.

Even after all these years, I adore this ship and the tragedy at the heart of it. I just wished the rest of the fandom was willing to explore this interpretation of the relationship as well.

3. Clinton/Brun/Elliot (Questionable Content)

I'm really excited to talk about this, not only because I get to talk about a polyamorous ship (which is really important to me) but I also get to promote an amazing webcomic that I wish everyone could start reading.

Questionable Content is a webcomic written by Jeph Jacques. At the start of the comic, the focus was largely on independent music with some basic relationship drama and science fiction elements. But as the comic developed, Questionable Content developed an identity of diversity and the exploration of diversity and its effect on relationships. We were introduced to a trans character in Claire and her growing relationship with the "main" character Martin. We saw the rise and the development of a relationship between Martin's roommate and best friend Faye and her co-worker, a robotic war veteran named Bubbles; which was just the most adorable ship and my favorite anticipated ship until this one showed up.

Image result for questionable content clinton brun elliot poly
OMG! I love these adorable doofuses!
The relationship between Claire's brother, Clinton, local bartender Brunhilde (Brun) and her co-worker Elliot is one that is deeply personal to me and, although it is not technically canon, I am excited to see if Jeph is willing to give some representation to poly people.

And it couldn't happen to a better group of characters. The primary characteristic of this ship is the adorkableness of all of its participants. Clinton is an extremely nerdy character whose history in the comic was antagonistic (though not villainous) early on, before maturing and growing in his confidence and relaxing on some of his more peculiar moments. Brun is a relatively new character whose relationship with Clinton and Elliot occurred nearly simultaneously but has been limited by her autism and the difficulties in understanding interpersonal relationships that sometimes accompany that. And then you have Elliot crushing on the both of them simultaneously, being the lovable goofy giant that he is.

This relationship, like all of Jeph's comic relationships, seems to be quite the slow burn but I have seen quite a bit of positive reception to the introduction of a polycule to the Questionable Content crew. Unfortunately, due to the fact that their relationship has not completely launched, I cannot go too much further in detail, save for the fact that this adorable triple pairing has already had some wonderfully goofy moments.

From Brun misinterpreting how her behavior can be read by outsiders, to Clinton's reluctance to push, to Elliot's innocent flirting with both (to Brun's confusion and Clinton's embarrassment).

I hope that I will be able to do a future editorial list where I can go into even further detail about this relationship. Maybe I could even do a Questionable Content countdown on its own?

Worth a thought.

4. Rarity/Spike (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic)

So my major claim to "fame" outside of Emerald Rangers is as The Brony Critic. I review My Little Pony fan content and creators, as well as attend conventions as a panelist. I have developed a bit of a reputation in the community, primarily because of my prodigious shipping proclivities. I ship many of the characters together and have met many of my Brony friends as a result of shipping debates.

And of all the ships in the show that I support, none is more notable nor notorious for my support of it that Spike/Rarity, otherwise known as Sparity. In short terms, I am the world's biggest Sparity shipper.
I love everything about this ship and seek it out in fan material whenever I get the chance. I enjoy the narrative moments between the two, as sparse as they are. I adore the thematic concept behind them especially and will geek out about it all the time. Even when I have been given a lot of crap by some of the more unfriendly and antagonistic elements of the Brony community (as any fan community will possess).

This ship's origins trace themselves all the way to the very first episode and maintained itself fairly reliably throughout all nine seasons of the show. Spike was the main character's sidekick and assistant, a dragon who was raised by the ponies with no knowledge of his own kind. Meanwhile, Rarity was one of Twilight Sparkle's best friends, a seamstress and business owner who held herself as a noble lady, despite her very common origins. And for nearly ten years, the relationship between the two stayed largely stable, never really progressing beyond its crush phase (and the occasional episode that actually focused on the two).

But the two just have so much fun chemistry. Admittedly, many of Spike's major moments are dependent heavily on the confidence of the writer of that episode in knowing just how Spike normally acts. But for the majority of my Sparity fix, I had to rely on fanfiction to explore the relationship in greater detail.

Which is why the thematic element of this ship is so incredible. For those of you not familiar with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Spike is a dragon. But in particular, he is a dragon that dreams of becoming a knight in shining armor. His attraction then to the fair maiden who shares all the characteristics of the damsel in distress is extremely interesting to me. The dragon who dreams of rescuing the maiden is a pleasant subversion of tropes that the 4th Generation of My Little Pony was notorious for, especially in its early years.

Though so much of that thematic chemistry is enhanced by the fact that the two characters do have a genuinely good narrative and dialog chemistry as well. While Spike was much more childish in the early seasons, tending to go along with whatever Rarity did; as he matured, the two's relationship became much more equal, and a lot more fun. Spike was still largely restricted to how well he was written by anyone author and the occasional tendency to be written as the show's punching bag, but when he was written well, the moments between Spike and Rarity were easily some of the best.

I could go on and on, but in truth; the strength of this ship for me lies in its thematic potential and how that narrative and thematic excellence are portrayed in the many, many fanfictions that feature this couple.

5. Katara/Aang (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

I love Avatar: The Last Airbender and, in terms of romances in the show, if you prefer slow-burns, there are few better than the relationship between Katara and the main character Aang. This relationship lasted the entirety of the shows run and even had massive implications and impacts in the sequel series, The Legend of Korra. And that is simply because this romance is easily one of the best exercised in any piece of fiction...period.

Image result for katara and aangAang and Katara's relationship is one based on deeply built trust and friendship. Katara is the first person that Aang sees after being awoken from his ice coma and comes to heavily rely on the waterbender and her brother, Sokka. The three form a very close-knit surrogate family that only grows as the series progresses. But at the heart of that group lies the relationship between Katara and Aang.

Which makes it really odd to me that there are shippers that prefer Zuko and Katara as a pair. My girlfriend is a hardcore Zutara shipper and...I just don't get it. There was always so much baggage and bad feelings in that relationship that Katara/Aang just didn't have. Leaving aside that this was ultimately the canon ship (which I, traditionally, tend to prefer anyway), there was just so much positivity and chemistry borne of genuine trust and struggle.

Watching the romance between Katara and Aang felt like the natural progression of two teenagers stuck in a truly terrifying situation, forced to become adults. The best kind of drama and romance.

6. Jake Long/Rose (American Dragon: Jake Long)

If you thought that Beast Boy/Terra had a great deal of drama and baggage associated with its underlying romantic relationship, then boy do I have the ship for you! American Dragon: Jake Long was a Disney Channel fantasy show that aired for two seasons between 2005 and 2007. The basic concept was that a young man named Jake Long discovers that he has the ability to transform into a Chinese dragon and trains under his grandfather to protect all the magical creatures of New York.

Alongside his grandfather and family, Jake acquires a number of friends, including his crush; a girl named Rose. Now Rose is introduced early on as a pleasant girl who gets along with Jake very well. At the same time, Jake begins to combat a group of magical creature hunters known as the Hunts Clan, led by a man known as The Huntsman and his apprentice Huntsgirl.

Anyone at all familiar with tropes and cliches will immediately guess that Rose is Huntsgirl and it leads to every bit of drama that you could imagine.

Fake outs, heartbreaking revelations, double agents and betrayals. Eventually, we even find moments with memory loss, true love's kiss, and all that GOOD SHIT!

This relationship was a rollercoaster that you just never wanted to end. Despite how short the run of this show was, it was just a hell of a blast and the relationship between Jake and Rose was an integral part of that. So much so that I don't even think this show would've been as good as it was without it.

7. Jonny Quest/Jessie Bannon (The Jonny Quest franchise)

I can almost guarantee that no one has ever heard of this ship. Most people have probably heard of Jonny Quest as the peculiar 60s children's show. But in the 90s, there was a prominent revival of the franchise, predominantly through two made-for-TV movies. I grew up watching and loving the hell out of these movies, in no small part due to the relationship between the titular Jonny Quest and the daughter of one of his mentors, Jessie Bannon.

Image result for jonny quest jessie bannon

Now when I talk about this relationship, I am speaking almost predominantly in the 1993 film Jonny's Golden Quest, which acted as a sort of relaunch of the franchise in its 1990s iteration. The film introduced us to the character of Jessie Bannon and her relationship to the rest of the cast, including Johnny, played a fundamental role in pushing the narrative forward. The two had pretty good chemistry and Jessie was unique in my memory for being a female character in a predominantly-male show who was almost more qualified and capable than her male counterparts. Especially for a 90s cartoon.

Honestly, there's not much to my love for this ship, save for the fact that it was my first. This is the first relationship in fiction that I ever identified with and found myself invested in its development. Much like the rest of my viewing experience of Jonny Quest, there wasn't a lot to this choice save for a great deal of nostalgia and good feelings attached to it.

8. Steven Universe/Connie Mahashwaran (Steven Universe)

Finally, we have what I might consider my most recent ship, but boy is it a good one!

Steven Universe is already a show that is notorious for its heavy reliance on interpersonal relationships as a crux of its series arcs. In fact, one could summarize the entire conflict of the series is essentially born out of Steven dealing with the fallout of his mother's relationships with his father, caretakers, neighbors, and enemies. Nearly every interaction that Steven has in the series ties, in some way, to his mother and her ever-present shadow.

With the exception of his friend and mutual crush, Connie Mahashwaran.

The daughter of a pair of helicopter parents, Connie initially begins as Steven's crush and sole human friend that is completely aware of his gem adventures. In fact, Connie is symbolic throughout the first season of Steven's normal life. The life he could've had had he only been completely human. A life that is constantly interrupted by the dealings of the other gems.

As the series progresses and Connie grows closer to the Gems and Steven, she begins to take a larger role, becoming a full-fledged member of the Crystal Gems. Which of course, drags her into more danger and exposes her and Steven's relationship into all the drama that makes for a great romantic relationship.

Because these two cinnamon rolls love each other to death, and everyone knows it. With the advent of Steven Universe Future, that relationship is the one element of Steven's increasingly anxious and self-destructive life that hasn't been fully explored.

And I for one can't wait to see how this relationship is going to conclude.



I had a hell of a good time going over the romances that had the biggest impact on my narrative preferences. Love is an incredibly powerful thematic motivator and the chance to explore that motivator even in a small scale on Valentine's Day was too easy to pass up.

Next week, we go back into film reviews by taking a look at the film that is notorious for derailing the Jurassic Park franchise, and curtailed sequel efforts for nearly a decade: Jurassic Park III.

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