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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.

So, Yeah

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:

Flandre Scarlet is a cute kitty, your argument is invalid.

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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Rain of blood over Elisyum

Well.... the people ASUME that she is lonely because the only person she accept as a friend(in-game)is Marisa, and if you are lucky enough to be with Marisa more than 5 minutes before she gets bored, you should be in the guinness book(title "One lucky bast****"). OK, I also don't like the fact that they always put Alice thinking about Marisa but, look, the people won't like to read something that says "AliMari" to see what Alice thinks about her dolls and research, it'd be boring.
When a girl gets madly in-love...everything else doesn't matter. It's not like she didn't have a life before Marisa, but when she met Marisa all the other things that bothered her mind were replaced by thoughts about her.
I totally get you with the misunderstanding things, I hate them naturally, I DON'T KNOW WHY T.T! (But just with AliMari, I think it's because they make Alice look like...yeah, a school girl, like you said)
But the thing I most hate is how they declare themselves. Usually, Alice and Marisa get in a really uncomfortable situation, and Alice confesses herself. And almost everyone does it! I hate seeing the same ending as ALWAYS! (The only declaration types I like are 1- any other different and original declaration. 2-when Marisa acts like...Marisa, and she give Alice clues to make her guess that Marisa loves her, which I think is very Marisa-like XD)
I guess that the thing I most hate about the (few) tsundere things I hate is that, the declarations...

Skygraze

Yeah, I'm sorry, you're absolutely right. It wouldn't be much of a romance story if they weren't thinking about each other XD (Even if it's just Alice doing all the 'thinking about the other person 24/7' thing)
I still don't like it though, it makes Alice so dependent on Marisa; makes her seem so pathetic it's almost sad (this gets even worse when Marisa doesn't seem to notice Alice at all) ;_;

And I completely agree with you on the declarations thing! So true... DX
I don't really mind if the declaration isn't all that original (as long as it's not exactly the same thing all the time, ugh...), but I'm with you on number 2, Marisa giving Alice hints is a goldmine for me ♥

Duran

Human beings get all obsessed when in love, I wouldn't say so much for Magicians. Alice isn't that type anyways. her thoughts would be "Maintain dolls, make new dresses for them, work on making a self-sufficent doll, maybe make a dress for Marisa. I hope she isn't getting into trouble; I can't be there to save her all the time"

Rain of blood over Elisyum

Well, I'm not going to repeat the same thing again.
Though, I understand you. Maybe you can make her think something that slowly makes her think about Marisa, but that's it. You can't put much of her "doll research" because people will get bored by reading it. ( Let's be honest, we mostly like fics and doujinshis when they are about emotional things more than knowing what the character's research or proyects are about)
Alice is a magician, but she was a human and we've seen many Youkai getting madly in love( not in the games, of course)
But the fact that we can't put Alice talking about her research too much doesn't mean that we just have to put her thinking about Marisa all the time, but it depends on what are your thoughts about Alice (Alice is a very different character for everyone)
But I agree with Skygraze: Give me a GOOD reason of why Alice have to be so pathetic!?!? please! people make her look like a sore looser who doesn't think about anything but her sadness!!! And when she feels pity for herself, it makes her look even more pathetic, where's the happines in that? Ok, it was meant to be drama, but the drama is not like that AT ALL! Drama has to be of serious things!
And another thing: Why does Alice's fan stuff have to be sad? Why can't she have her happy ending (Alice in wonderland =D)!? She is one of my favourite characters and she always is depressed, it makes the reader depressed TT.
(Ok, today I'm way too cranky)

Azuma Hazuki

Alice is a difficult character to expand on well. Marisa is a lot more active and talkative, and you see her in more situations. With Alice, well...you only really know "cold," "silent," "kind of rude sometimes," "proper," "born in Hell" (okay, Makai), and "traded her humanity for long life and power."

So she's basically a lich. Only without the rotten bits (yet? *shiver*). Personally I like Marisa/Alice because I can see the two of them improving one another: Alice gives Marisa some instruction in being cooler, more focused, calmer, and less of a spaz. And Marisa keepa Alice *human.*

And yes I can totally see Marisa eventually performing the same spell Alice did. And marrying her. With Mima and Shinki officiating at the wedding for sure ♥

mandygirl78

I don't mind reading about her "doll research" or whatnot. It's better than the same old lovesick-for-Marisa crap that's in 95% of the fandoms and doujins. You could make a comedy out of it, by having it go terribly wrong. Or go about a background of why she decided to become a youkai. Or something related to her "cowardness", whether it's overcoming it or she's put in a situation that reveals how much of a coward she is.

Nolrai

"( Let's be honest, we mostly like fics and doujinshis when they are about emotional things more than knowing what the character's research or proyects are about)"

This does not have to be the case, I once read a quite good, hmm episodic web published novel (I guess thats what I would call it.), lots of emotions, love and sex and rejection and death and it was written well, but the most interesting parts where the MC's history class, talking about the world building. So well written doll research could be quite fascinating, I mean Alice cares; a good author could make the reader care too.

Kimiko Muffin

I think the term you're looking for is "serial novel." ;)

In any event: never say that every single person in the world likes reading X for the exact same reasons you do, because you are automatically wrong. :)

Tewi Inonymous

This does not have to be the case, I once read a quite good, hmm episodic web published novel (I guess thats what I would call it.), lots of emotions, love and sex and rejection and death and it was written well, but the most interesting parts where the MC's history class, talking about the world building. So well written doll research could be quite fascinating, I mean Alice cares; a good author could make the reader care too.

More stories need to be written by scientists and engineers.

Nyarly

(Pretty late, I know.)

I'm rather ambivalent to Tsundere. They are easy to screw up (like Louise the Zero), but when done well, they can be great characters (like Taiga Aisaka).

I can't really see Alice as Tsundere, though. Maybe it's because I've never saw her portrayed as that, aside in a certain IOSYS video. The few Alice/Marisa Doujinshi I read (which didn't really ship them, but had, at least in one case, certain "vibes") portrayed her as a calm person, who is very friendly to Marisa, without any hostility. I really like this better and it seems more appropriate.

I don't understand the appeal of making her a butt monkey. As much as I like KirbyM's flash clips, I really dislike Alice's portrayal in them.

Kimiko Muffin

There I have added a new conclusion. (I liked the "at least it isn't crazy-Alice" but couldn't find somewhere else to fit it in.)

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