The Deadly Cliché of Marisa/Alice Shipping
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Short version: I've had it pretty much up to here with "Alice as tsundere, without it actually leading to a relationship."
I originally posted the gist of this page here; I decided I'd expand upon it, give a few examples, and generally have a whole article when I wanted to direct someone else's attention to it. To wit, it is a list of cliches which some authors have used when attempting to romantically pair Marisa with Alice, without a trace of irony, over a brazillion times. A story or doujin or whatever which uses any of these devices will have to be phenomenally good in order for me to enjoy it.
It's not Alice-as-tsundere in and of itself that bugs me, necessarily. It's the fact that it either pushes away from Alice and Marisa ending up in an actual relationship, or the story ends long before the relationship does go anywhere. Oh, and also, the fact that it is way, way, WAY overused, with the author apparently oblivious to this fact. I'm not quite passive-aggressive and obnoxious enough to start going "So, uh, you haven't been a fan of Marisa/Alice long, have you?" to people who write fics like this, but damn.
A reminder: every single elemnent here is my opinion, and intended merely to explain why I personally do not like these things. Comments to the effect that I'm somehow wrong, or should like something I didn't like just because it doesn't "technically" fit under something, will be summarily deleted without even dignifying them with a response. Also, BOCTAOE.
Formulation 1: Alice doesn't know how to handle her feelings for Marisa or isn't consciously aware of them, so she mishandles them and possibly acts outright hostile towards her.
Example: a fanfic I read once in which Marisa cheerfully comes to visit Alice. Alice mentally refers to hating Marisa in the narration, and then becomes agitated until she can't stand it anymore, whereupon she flies into a rage and throws Marisa out of her house.1
Less-extreme/more subtle example: the hentai doujin "The Puppeteer and the White-Black Witch." Well, I call it an H-doujin because it says "Adults Onry" on the cover, but the plot is that Alice has a great big upset over the fact that Marisa's a mortal human with a relatively short lifespan and Alice is a youkai with the nigh-invulnerability and immortality that implies ... as a result of Marisa scraping her arm. So there's 20 pages of angsting, followed by 4 pages of actual H, plus the covers and the denoument. I suppose if you're actually turned on by that sort of thing it's okay, but you'd also have to ignore the fact that Alice is a former-human, and there's no compelling reason why Marisa can't go through the exact same process (Akyu even speculates that this may happen at some point in the future).
Formulation 2: Alice recognizes her feelings for Marisa, but doesn't know how to express them, and thus fails to do so in any meaningful kind of way.
Example: The doujin "Witch's Tea Party" by Paranoia Cat. Alice has been consistently unable to express her feelings for Marisa. At a tea party at the Scarlet Devil Mansion, when Alice asks Patchouli about her relationship with Marisa, Patchouli tells Alice that Marisa has stolen her "precious thing", describing it in contrived double-entendre terms, and Alice flies off in a rage before Patchouli can say she meant her non-directional laser. In the ensuing danmaku battle, Marisa blasts Alice into next week with a Master Spark; Alice assumes that Marisa hates her now. When Marisa comes looking for her, after confirming that Patchouli isn't around, she basically cries into Marisa's shoulder without another word; Marisa is confused, and the narration states that Alice remains confused about the "relationship" with Patchouli.
Formulation 3: Alice behaves like an stereotyped tsundere in place of giving her an actual personality, e.g. outright saying "It's not like [I like you/I'm doing it for you] or anything!"
Okay, the actual line isn't used seriously and unironically very often, even in comedies, but the principle is still there. The main difference between this and the first two formulations is that broadly speaking, any original/unique personality she normally has is replaced by "third tsundere on the left + likes dolls", it is always played for laughs, and in some cases the line between "doesn't know how to express her feelings" and "she merely chooses to behave hostile" is blurred.
Example: "Magical Coincidence" by Tail Concerto Temporary, in which Alice and Marisa temporarly switch bodies as a result of a spell Alice created: "Those bathed in this gas turn into the person they have on their mind!" It opens with the following dialogue between Alice and Shanghai: "What are you doing, Alice?" "I'm preparing to beat hollow that bastard.[sic]" "A bastard?" "Yep, she really pisses me off." "You hate her?" "Well, not exactly hate ..." "Antagonism is a sign of love?" "Where'd you get that from?" (Whether or not Shanghai can think for herself in this doujin, or whether Alice is just manipulating her for "her own amusement" as she does in canon, is an exercise left to the reader.)
Formulation 4: Alice and/or her interests are entirely ignored/disregarded. If she does manage to get across to Marisa, the latter outright doesn't reciprocate.
For examples, see, um, generally the entire fandom. This is the big one, and tends to annoy me the most. I like the character, and the Marisa/Alice pairing, and I hate it when a character I like is treated as everyone's butt monkey (Warning, link leads to TVTropes. Muffin will not be held responsible for hours of time lost as a result of following it.But see also this disclaimer).
The second part can be easily combined with any other formulation, should Alice end up overcoming the inherent limitations, i.e. the doujin "Crazy Slow ★ Pain" by Sayataka Tea Mansion, in which Alice cannot directly express her feelings for Marisa (#2), acts generally tsundere about the fact that Marisa apparently doesn't notice this (#3), and as per #4, Marisa plays hard to get to the point that it's only the fact that she tells Reimu what she's doing this that the reader actually realizes knows.
Mind you, they aren't necessarily that clear-cut or distinct — "Witch's Tea Party," used as the example for formulation 2, also contains elements of formulation 1 via Alice's jealous rage, and as described, formulation 4 can contain anything. It's actually fairly difficult to find "pure" formulaic examples. The one or two doujins I've seen where it was mutual or the other way around were also, um, interesting in a clinical, "I still don't like this" sort of way. (It's also worth noting that I still might not like a particular doujin if it fits other stupid comedy tropes which get on my nerves, but that's beyond the scope of this article.)
But this sort of thing, particularly #4, is pretty much the exact reason why solidifying Marisa and Alice's relationship was the third thing I did, and why a romantic-screwup on Alice's part resulted in giggling instead of angst. In point of fact, it was a direct response to every single flash involving Alice by KirbyM fitting into form 4.2
I don't know. I've just been frustrated too many times, I'm not entirely sure I'd enjoy a picture or doujin or fic that did fit all my "requirements." Notwithstanding my own creations, of course, but still.
Be that as it may, though:
1I actually did respond to this one with "So, not a fan of Marisa/Alice, huh?" because it had been so extreme that I hadn't recognized it as "Alice being tsundere."
2No, having a character fake interest in something Alice was doing in that one Daily Flash does not count as "moving away from this," nor does the "Just kidding!" bit in How Parsee Stole Christmas. Tacking on an "except not" at the end merely comes off as awkward, expecially since it was a somewhat transparently fake "except not" in the first one to begin with.
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