Monday, February 28, 2011

Top Five Couples in Entertainment

You know, I wrestled with whether to do this. I've run this blog for about two years now and for the most part, I've kept shipping or preferred couplings out of here. I was going to do this on or right before Valentines Day, but instead I went for a Random Train of Thought. It is, however, still February, so it's still appropriate to some degree, so I made the last minute decision to do this list.

The following are what I think are some of the best pairings in entertainment. Obviously, with only five, I'm only going to hit so many. But hey, that's what next year is for. These are in no particular order, merely numbered for convenience.

1) Cloud and Aeris/Aerith (Final Fantasy VII)

Obviously, there's a fair bit of revisionist history going on with Final Fantasy VII. There are, to this day, people who absolutely insist that the main character was destined to hook up with the self centered but very well endowed martial artist. To anyone paying attention, this is patently moronic, due to a lot of evidence as well as the fact that Tifa wasn't even included in the game until very late in development.

There's obviously a lot of people missing the point of Final Fantasy VII, which is frankly a modern day, fantasy based Romeo and Juliet. These two were there for each other and it was spelled out that they more or less belonged together. But death is what seperated them. Only, it didn't. She lived on in his heart and despite the fact that her body may have perished, he never stopped loving her. Even at the very end of the game, when everything appears at it's zenith and he can do no more for the planet, he's concerned only with finding the Promised Land and seeing her again (while Tifa's right next to him looking crestfallen, which, come on, means that even she knew what time it was).

Even in the CG animated film, when he has other responsibilities - like the folks he's shacked up with that includes Tifa, Barret, who's away at the time, and Marlene - she's first and foremost on his mind. When Sephiroth threatens to take away everything dear to him, she's what he thinks of the most. Without her, his life seems almost unhappy. She appears to him in his darkest moments and, while it's up to interpretation as always since they don't want to upset any of the shipper fans on either side, it seemed pretty obvious to me that the Calling credits video made it clear he'd finally seen her again in the flower field. The physical aspect may be gone, but the love is not.

The point of Final Fantasy VII is that death may separate, but love lasts forever regardless of it. Frankly, that's a message far more beautiful and poignant than we get from a lot of stories. Certainly more-so than any liaison with a breasty, pushy bartender he rarely pays much attention to.

2) Beast Boy and Raven (Teen Titans)

Despite being a stalwart fan of the Titans - through good and oh-my-god-make-it-stop alike - I'm not much for shipping there. Comic Robin and Starfire, okay, but I've long since given up the ghost on that one. But aside from that, there's only one other I give a rats ass about, whether it's in the cartoon or the comic. You're looking at it.

In the show, they were antagonistic, but beneath that they had a great friendship and a solid foundation for possibly something more. In the comic, they were more. Despite the fact that the comic version has frequently been on hiatus or happening off panel, I still love it to pieces and hope to see more of it soon.

Obviously, there are some differences to the characters, but there are a lot more similarities. The two frequently have a lot in common, from their past on down. Overall, though, their relationship - when not written by people who have no clue how to write either of them - is sweet and believable; and frankly I see a lot of potential with them together, not just as a pairing, but in their own adventures. Despite, you know, the fact that such will never happen. Le sigh.

But above all else... come on. A dejected, half demon empath often feared and shunned finds love in a green man who can shapeshift into animals or other beasties, yet is never taken seriously by most anyone but her and his best friend. Tell me that's not like a modern day fairy tale. That's right. You can't.

3) Naruto and Sakura (Naruto)

I'm pretty hesitant to include this one. Not because of any dislike of the pairing or reservations. The reason is more because the manga went down the toilet a long time ago, to the point where I can't even read it anymore, not without having a conniption. Still, I can say that this pairing is a lot of the reason I held out for as long as I did - over two years of questionable material with only occasional good chapters - so that's probably a testament to how well done it is. Frankly, it's probably the only redeeming factor of the manga anymore.

What makes this one special is that we literally see it built from the ground up. For the entire series, Naruto's been in love with her, but at the outset she didn't like him one bit. She judged him based on shallow terms - actually, how shallow she was initially is why she still has haters, despite the fact that she grew up a long time ago - and harbored a crush on the Naruto equivalent of the school jock everybody loves.

But that was not to last. Naruto always went above and beyond the call of duty for her and over time, she realized that it was he who was always there for her, not the boy she had a crush on, who frequently berated her. After the timeskip, they quickly became something of a formidable duo who could count on one another in time of stress. It was a long journey, but it's now clear both have feelings for one another and the two seem ever on the verge of consummation.

It's the kind of long term plotting that makes stories special; and frankly, it's kind of hard not to root for the two. Only problem? The manga they star in stopped being worth your time ages ago. Ah well.

4) Jim Raynor and Sarah Kerrigan (Starcraft)

As you've probably guessed from number one, I'm not adverse to a little tragedy or sadness in my love stories. This one's probably about as downbeat as the first one I named. But both have the potential for a happy ending of sorts; and hey, I like me a good happy ending too.

So, boy meets telepathic girl. Boy wonders how she'd look with no clothes on. Girl becomes agitated. Boy becomes closer to girl. Boy and girl come close to a real relationship. Girl is abandoned by the dick they both work for and finds her very being warped into an evil mass murderer. Boy never gives up. One day, boy perserveres.

If there's one thing this series does a lot of, it's shit on Jim Raynor. No, seriously. Of all the characters in the franchise, Jim's right up there with the best of them in having it bad. Basically a good man caught up in things beyond him, he loses everything, from his position as marshal of his home planet to the girl he has the hots for on down the line. Worse still, he blames himself for not doing enough; a sticking point is the fact that he regrets not acompanying Kerrigan on the New Gettysburg mission that saw her left behind by Mengsk.

But there's always that chance that Jim can get her back; and when the oppourtunity arises, he's there to take it, while saving a lot of lives along the way.

Sometimes it's fleshed out as much in the media outside the games as it is in, but either way it's a compelling love story and compelling drama. Sometimes, we lose the ones we love. But it's not too often they transform into a mass murdering monster. Even rarer is the one who will never give up on them. If that's not real love, then what the bloody hell is?

5) Bruce Wayne and Zatanna (Batman)

Boy, this one came out of nowhere to worm its way into my heart. I used to be a much bigger Batman and Catwoman fan. I still am, but it's been replaced by this pairing as the number one.

Paul Dini can take a bow for making this one a pairing I'd like to see more of.

It started with repairing the friendship the two had before that whole mindwipe thing. From there, it became clear there might be something more. Then the question of a relationship was broached and while they decided not to go anywhere with it, it's still lingering, despite her claim to being resigned to being second fiddle to Catwoman. Honestly, it feels more interesting than Batman and Catwoman have been in years; and while any thing with a guy who has the compulsion to dress like a bat and beat up crime will be tough, but considering Zatanna's lousy love life, she's certainly been with worse. Not to mention Zatanna herself would be much better for Batman than the woman who can't keep her sticky fingers off jewels for too long.

I wish DC would go somewhere with it, but for now - with Zatanna in her own series and Batman doing his Incorporated thing - it's probably going to be a bit of a wait. But I've warmed to this one enough to be real patient.

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