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09.18.02 :: "Mary Sue" -- in honor of us all

The opinions in this letters column aren't necessarily those of Jeanne Rubbo, owner of videogamerecaps.com. Even so, Jeanne owns *us* and has locked us in a dark closet with Tidus and Rinoa until we think of something funny. HELP! In the meantime, send in your comments, queries, whining, flames, spam, opinions, facts, opinions that you think are facts, and general idiocy to mailbag@videogamerecaps.com

Youkoso, mina-san! VGR Mailbag desu! In the spirit of our topic this week (bad Mary Sue fanfics) we thought we'd throw some random Japanese into the intro, since Mary Sues just LOVE Japanese words. Kawaii! Sugoi! Anyway, this week we?re paraphrasing Ricky Nelson and saying ?Hello Mary Sue. Goodbye stomach contents.? We asked for your impressions on the genre of fanfics, and you responded. So, without much further ado, let?s delve into how "fun" Mary Sues can be, ne?

Sephy just needs a little luv from Mary
...Mary Sues. I know thee only too well.

I could go on for ages about Mary Sues and go into detail with many, many fandoms and my personal problems with each one; but, this is a Final Fantasy/videogame-focused site, so...um...yeah.

The first story that comes to mind is a horrible little thing in which Zell meets a girl like him in every way possible, and they fall in love. (Does she enjoy burying her face in Squall's crotch, too?) And it was as bad it sounds, in case you want to know. And don't even get me started on the whole "Seifer becomes a SeeD and has a new student named Rune Angelique Ryne Judo Hakishi who's in TROUBLE because of mean ol' Squall who doesn't like her because she's so COOL and Squall's so STUPID and SEIFER ROOLZ! - can he save her?" plotline. Sadly enough, there are roughly about 345,654,300,201 of these kinds of stories out there. By the way - Seifer's hot for Squall, in case Rune Angelique Ryne Judo Hakishi wants to know.

And the amount of Sephiroth x Mary Sue stories out there is just...STUPID - I mean, really, that makes as much sense as Sephiroth x Aerith. And WHY the hell would Vincent forget all about Lucericia and decided to get together with that pretty young teenager who thinks that she's from another world and got sucked into a videogame? If only Mary Sue stories made sense. Then, I might not hate them so much.

Thank you for your ill-spent time - Nia

Yeah, Sephiroth x Mary Sue makes the same amount of sense as Sephiroth x Aeris/Aerith (why do you fanboys get so goddamned riled up about that, anyway? Stupid thing to argue about, IMO) but you'd be surprised--or not--at the number of THOSE particular fics that "grace" the Internet. Bottom line: fanfics in general aren't required to make sense. The good ones do, but there are so few good ones that "good fanfic" is almost an oxymoron. For a self-professed "good" fanfic-writer like myself, it's kind of depressing. No, scratch that. It's extremely depressing.

-LC

Nia,

I would never consider my time working on the mailbag to be ill-spent. At least, not as ill-spent as writing (or reading, for that matter) a fanfic where Squally?s straight or Zell hooks up with a girl just like him. (nightmare material for weeks ? WEEKS, I tell you!) I can understand many a fangirl?s rampant desire to be with the studly goth boy that is Sephiroth, hell, I?m walking proof that a married, adult woman can be overtaken with character lust, given the right circumstances, but that doesn?t mean that I would ever want to read about them. Your opinion is shared by many, so read on and see!

-AG

The voices...make them stop!
Hello ladies!

Once again another hastily written letter to you fine letter answerers. Mary Sues? I know of 'em. I've written a few.

The first ever one was on the heels of Final Fantasy IV (or 2 as it was released here). It was Kain Jr., the disciple (NOT the son) of Dragon Knight Kain and he basically was perfect. He snagged Rydia, gained magic powers of every type, changed the landscape of the world to one continent and brought the people of the moon and the dwarves above ground to all live together. In other words, he was so perfect he was boring.

Now, for a few words on my current anime Mary Sues:

Irochi Tsukino: Sailor Moon SM, she's a 19-year-old silver-haired, bisexual senshi that wields a sword and is cold-hearted to everyone but her sister.

Kiryuu Takashi: Tenchi Muyo! SM, 2,000 year old Jurian swordsman currently living and training in a grounded spaceship next to the Masaki household; in the hopes that one day, he will finally be able to best his mother in combat.

Cyril Delacroix: Slayers SM, a 15-year-old half-draconian boy, he wields a sword in each hand and does merc jobs in the hopes of finding his object of desire: Lina Inverse. Of course, authorial whim dictates that he'll just miss her at every turn, until the plot decides when they meet.

Satoru Masaki: Evangelion SM, a 15-year-old Eva pilot, designated as the Seventh Child. Lives in Misato's apartment, and is constantly screwing up at getting a date. Why? Authorial whim. ^^ Usually keeps to himself, though a half-suave, half-pervert side comes out if he's hitting on a girl.

And there you have it, 4 products of a deranged mind. Enjoy and comment.

~Alex Magusaka

Alex, honey, be careful. Otherwise, you?re going to start thinking those voice in your head really ARE other people. Thanks for sharing your Gary Stu ?lives? with us all. It takes a gutsy young man to own up to Gary Stu fanfics, so go you!

-AG

Alex,

When I saw the name "Kiryuu Takashi," for half a second I thought you were referring to a second younger sibling of Kiryuu Touga, except this one would have his/her incestual pinings reciprocated. Now that would be an interesting read. And pretty much every Sailor Moon Mary Sue (AKA "Sailor Magical Fairy Stardust Butterfly") I've ever seen is bisexual, so she can get it on with Mamoru AND the male Three Lights (since seemingly everyone thinks Seiya, Taiki and Yaten are "icky" as girls) and THEN have a threesome with Rei and Minako. Not that the series doesn't ask for it -- it's gotta be the easiest Mary Sue target EVER. Anyway, yeah, thanks for sharing. It's nice to know men aren't above acting out their fantasies via nauseatingly perfect fanfic characters.

-LC

When is Mary Sue okay?
Good day te ye, ladies.

So, I see that the subject of the week are them Self-Importants, Mary Sue and Gary Stu. It's no secret that nearly everyone has been subjected to their works at least once, as they go by many names: Wesley Crusher, Shinji Ikari, Usagi Tsukino, Makoto Mizuhara, Ash Ketchum... the list goes on. But those are the (mostly) legit Mary Sues, the ones who are liked by at least a portion of their story's fanbase (well, except for Wesley). The majority of the stinkers are congregated around fanfiction.

Like slash, Mary Sues blossomed in the Star Trek fandom. It was there that we met talented, up-and-coming ensigns who marveled all with their combat dexterity, strategic brilliance and beautiful singing. Some of them began torrid romances with Kirk, or Spock, or both at the same time.

Since I'm not into Star Trek much, though, I'll get on to my experiences with Mary and Gary. Such experiences are mostly confined to anime-related fanfiction, which makes enough of an overlap with videogames for it to be relevant to this Mailbag.

Anyone familiar with Sailor Moon may think that the show is ripe for Mary Sues, and they would be right. The author has admitted to being a lot like Usagi in behavior, and new senshi (or Scouts, depending on which version you adhere to) get quite the focus in their introductory eps, along with the exhibition fight, before being forced back into the background. With that in mind, having a fic in which Mary Sue shows up at Usagi's school, turns out to be a Sailor Senshi and saves the day against the Monster of the Week, can be pulled off successfully, so long as the fic doesn't focus _too much_ on ol' Mary.

[Brief self-promoting aside: The Sailor Moon fic I'm currently MSTing is, in spite of its many syntax errors, pretty much a textbook example on how to pull off a Self-Insertion in a context fitting for the show.]

However, when Mary Dearest gets both the Magical Plot Contrivance Powers(TM) AND the Motley Collection of Stereotypical Friends AND the Mysterious Kakkoi Male Aide (in other words, when she steals SM's schtick), things go awry. For example, Sailor Moon Hentai. No, that's an SI Fic's title, not the subgenre. Five friends of Usagi & co. meet a lemony-green-hued cat (with an 'H' in its forehead) who grants them ecchi-esque powers with which to slay evil. That's on part one. On part two, their enemies capture the Hentai Senshi and drain their powers by submitting them to their wildest fantasies (again, it's told in a way to make it Not Quite Porn). From part three onwards, the fic suddenly shifts gears with an endless parade of new senshi who get no characterization, new powers and large portions given to the transformations and the Final Attack(TM). It's almost like a bad parody of the show, really.

Next are the Evangelion Gary Stus. Mary also appears a few times but Gary often gets more mileage here. After all, the world of EVA _NEEDS_ Gary's Alpha Male Dominance(TM) to counter Shinji's wussiness, the ladies' mental traumas and Gendo's manipulations. The folks over at www.elmerstudios.com have made an art out of MSTing Gary Stu's EVA escapades (and Mary's lesbic EVA fun in "The Fate of the Children"), so you people can just go and see for yourself. I will, however, take some time here to mention arguably the first EVA Gary Stu: D.J. Croft of Neon Exodus Evangelion, the Fifth Child (insert Big Gay Kaworu jokes here), lovechild of Fox Mulder and Lara Croft, knows all about SEELE, has H.A.L. as his Personal Computer, and last but not least, made Rei experience actual emotions. Actually, the last part isn't so bad, except that you can't read this series without the foreboding feeling that he'll be getting it on with all of the female cast, including his dear ol' mum. Did I mention that the NERV was relocated to Worcester-3? At least it's well written.

Well, I guess there really isn't much to say, other than giving some reference links: the aforementioned Sailor Moon SI can be found (in MSTed format) over at www.svamcentral.org/svam. Also, to read NXE in its full, un-MSTed entirety, check www.eyrie-productions.com, home of Usenet's finest fanfiction since 1991, according to Ben Hutchins. The nice folks at Eyrie have a good deal of stories on the web that will entertain many. You may love them, you may hate them, but you WILL be entertained, at least.

~Quartz Falcon

QF, you've once again brought up an extremely interesting point. The idea of a "canon Mary Sue" has been wandering through my brain lately, and you raise several excellent examples. In the case of Tsukino Usagi you're spot on, as the creator of the series even said at one point that Usagi was more or less her in manga/anime form. I'll add one more to your list: Miaka Yuuki of Fushigi Yuugi fame. She's the amazing, beautiful priestess from another world who finds perfect true love in the disgustingly handsome, good and noble Tamahome, draws the affection of her other guardians (Hotohori, Tasuki, Nuriko), saves two different worlds, and still manages to get into the high school of her choice, reunite with her best friend AND impossibly get into Tamahome's pants, even though he's a fictional character EVEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE STORY. Busy girl.

I don't know if Wesley Crusher counts as a Mary Sue, though, as funny as the idea is. Because he's really not the center of the Enterprise's little universe. Dr. Crusher and Picard are really the only people who give a rat's ass if Wesley lives or dies.

-LC

Wow, QF. A love child between Fox Mulder and Lara Croft? Someone who believes in UFOs and to prove it they systematically loot their way through Area 51, blowing away all who cross their path? That's something worth reading about, no doubt about it! But really, dear boy, must you MSTy the poor Mary Sues that come your way? They do a good enough job making us laugh as it is. How cruel you are to those struggling writers out there who only want to live out their dreams of anime glory/omnipotent powers/endless character boffing! Why, you're a boy after my own heart.

-AG

The worst Mary Sue....EVER
Dear AG and Lita-chan,

I believe the pun in your last mailbag would be in the phrase "Marry Shu." The only alternative would be "horror stories," and let's just not go there.

I apologize for how long this letter is going to be.

(Note: I realize there are male Mary Sue (Gary Stu) authors out there, but since female Mary Sue authors are much more common, I shall use them for my examples in this letter. Thank you.)

1) My own Mary Sue stories:

I'm not proud of this, but it's so embarrassingly amusing, I must share it. Yes, I have written a Mary Sue. In my defense:

a) I was a teenager at the time.
b) My story counterpart was pretty much me, not some pathetically overidealized version of me. (So would it technically be called a Mary Sue at all then?)
c) I was writing it to be silly.

Unfortunately, I ended up sharing it with a few close friends of mine, otherwise I could have lived the rest of my life without the humiliation of realizing "Oh my GOD, I actually showed this to people!!" Poor Jason. That's all I'm going to say. And the only reason I'm admitting the existence of this story is that I wrote it so very long ago.

The premise of my story was that all these characters from various videogames and anime, as well as characters I had created for a PUGGY!!! the Pound Puppy/Robin Hood crossover series (Don't ask. Just don't.) randomly showed up in my neighborhood. Hilarity (and some boffing) ensued. The best part was that I tried to keep up with as many different characters and plotlines as possible. I read too much Robert Jordan at the time, which explains that. The main plotline involved destroying my ex-boyfriend, who was a disgusting monster (in the story -- he was just a wanker in real life). Some subplots included Puggyana (the sorceress)'s Frosted Flakes cereal being poisoned, Puggyana educating the morons in Jeanne's high school band, and Celes wanting to kill the moogle for constantly falling down in battle. So basically, this was a therapeutic fantasy story. And I realized that, at least.

2) The worst Mary Sue fanfic ever:

Mine could definitely be a contender for this coveted title, but I think my final choice for this category outranks mine because of the seriousness of the story and the fact that it's posted on the internet. I speak, of course, of TurtleNinja. I'm sure there are many worse Mary Sues out there, but I'm not exactly a big fanfic reader, and I happen to have several friends who are into the Ninja Turtles who introduced me to the glory of TN.

I could write an entire letter on the subject of TurtleNinja, but this is already really long, so I'll summarize. TurtleNinja is a beautiful, psychic turtle princess from another planet. During the course of her many long stories, TurtleNinja gets with at least half the ninja turtle team. She also ends up in a coma in pretty much every story. And the writing! Oh, the writing. Abridged battle scenes! Narrators that are nowhere near the main action! Now go and read. But don't blame me for the tears that follow.

3) Favorite Mary Sue clich?:

My most favorite Mary Sue clich? would have to be the rewriting of existing plotlines (vs. creating a brand new story) to include the beautiful, witty, fabulous new heroine -- as if there was something lacking in the original story and by golly, the fanfic author has got to fix it! I'm going to use Lord of the Rings to illustrate my point, even though it's not a game (yes, I know there's a game, but you know what I mean).

Some teenage (or adult) woman looks at this classic piece of fantasy literature and thinks, "You know, that Tolkien guy is pretty good and all, but I know what would make this story better -- me! Specifically, a psychic, magical, beautiful, thinner, witty, talented version of me to travel with the party and have sex with Frodo and/or Legolas and/or Aragorn -- oh, and destroy the One Ring."

I'm guessing that using an existing storyline is easier, because the author can have her fantasy without having to do as much original work. All she has to do is insert the boffing (so to speak) and change some of the already-existing events to include some witty remarks and heroic actions by the new main character. But think about it -- rewriting Tolkien. Yeah.

4) 500 word Mary Sue story (contains FFX spoilers):

This is a realization of a half-drunken, late night brainstorm session by myself, Susi, and Jason at AnimeIowa. We were trying to create the worst Final Fantasy X Mary Sue story EVER. It stars, of course, me, John, Susi, and Jason. Try to spot us. I've named the story "Jeanne" -- in honor of all of us.

Once upon a time, four gods created Spira. Their names were Fleanne, Flohn, Flusi, and Flason. They were omnipotent, immortal, gorgeous, thin, witty, psychic, and had special powers. Fleanne was an expert swordswoman with a beautiful singing voice and the power of Earth. Flohn was a machina expert with a beautiful singing voice and the power of Air. Flusi was a star blitzball player with a beautiful singing voice and the power of Water. Flason was a powerful black mage with a beautiful singing voice and the power of Fire. They were all summoners, too. Together, they had been involved in pretty much every big event in the entire history of Spira. And some of it was tragic.

They took a short break in their godly day, and suddenly the entire planet was filled with anti-machina religious weirdoes. Yikes! The four gods decided that they needed to fix things, and pronto.

As they had at various times in the past, Fleanne, Flohn, Flusi, and Flason took human form and went down to Spira. They found out that there was this wanker called Yu Yevon who controlled this giant monster called Sin that kept attacking people. And these summoners kept trying to defeat Sin, killing themselves in the process. This had to stop. So the four of them joined a pilgrimage that just happened to include enough guardians (and a summoner) for them all to boff someone.

Fleanne got with Auron, who, despite being dead and having enough honor to not get involved with someone physically and emotionally because of that, just couldn't resist her wittiness, her beauty, and her impressive skill with swords. Flohn pushed that wanker Tidus aside and claimed Yuna's heart for his own. And because, through the magic of fanfiction, she had suddenly turned 18 and thus was of age, he could boff her without being a disgusting pedophile. Flusi hooked up with Wakka, and they spent a lot of time in the water playing with balls and smoking the Blitzbong (in more ways than one). Flason used his impressive magical skills to lure the luscious Lulu into his bed. Where they did it. Oh, and everyone fell in love, too. It wasn't just about the sex.

All the other male characters in the game wanted Fleanne and Flusi, and all of the female characters wanted Flohn and Flason. Seymour, who usually liked children, wanted all of them. It must have been the thongs. Yes, because they all wore thongs and crotch straps.

At the end, it was time to fight Yu Yevon, the mighty Tick Man himself. Flohn's love for Yuna had stopped her from going through with her mission and thus killing herself. The gods knew of several ways to kill ticks. You couldn't just squash them, because they were already flat. You could tear them in half, burn them with fire, or flush them down the toilet. So Fleanne used her impressive swordfighting skills to cut Yu Yevon in half, Flason burned him with fire, and Flusi and Flohn combined their powers (water and machina) to create a toilet, which they then flushed Yu Yevon the tick down. He was dead.

Now that Yu Yevon, and therefore Sin (oh yeah, they had also defeated Jecht, who was Sin (Sin is Jecht), right before the Yu Yevon part) were out of commission forever, it was time to take care of some items of business. As Yuna started sending her aeons, Auron began turning into pyreflies. Fleanne knew she had to do something to save her one true love from disappearing. She was a god, God damn it! So she brought Auron back to life so they could boff happily ever after. Everyone else stayed with their respective partners, too, with lots of sappy weddings and stuff. Except that Flohn got brutally raped (don't worry, he was okay) and Flusi ended up with six kids. Flason was going to sacrifice himself for the sake of the world, but then realized that he was a god and was immortal. Whoops.

Right after Tidus disappeared, everyone kind of stood around for a moment, before Rikku asked, "Um, you brought Auron back to life, right? You could bring Tidus back, too, couldn't you?"

"Yes," Flusi replied. "We could."

And they never spoke of it again.

The End.

In conclusion -- do I think Mary Sue stories are evil and horrible and should be destroyed forever? Not if kept private. Even if the stories are well-written with an awesome plot (hey, it could happen.....maybe......and I suppose Squall could be straight, too), I always feel rather embarrassed for the authors for sharing their private fantasies with others. That doesn't stop me from mocking them, though. God bless the internet.

Jeanne

Unfortunately for all of us, Mrs. Rubbo has cut to the heart of the matter. Most Mary Sues are execrable pieces of writing, where the writer lives out their greatest fantasy of being gorgeous, perfect, strong, and totally hot. (Not to mention boffing the character of their dreams.) Got more than one love interest? Hey, it's okay! It's your fanfic! Who cares that you may not have actually interacted with the opposite sex for ten years, right? All that matters is that for this piece of fiction YOU are the man, and you can get anyone/do anyone/be anything you want. Just don't forget that the minute you show it to someone who doesn't have a reason to be kind to you you're most likely going to be the object of derision and scorn. Never say we didn't warn you.

And I do believe that that is the worst (but funny as hell) FFX Mary Sue I've ever read - at least until TurtleNinja writes one. *shudder*

-AG

Jeanne,

Yay, someone found my pun! Now I can pretend I'm clever because one person (two, counting AG) saw it. Go me!

I have to say, that fanfic ranks up their in comedic value with this one, but yours involves letting Tidus die, which makes it the best fanfic ever. I haven't delved too deeply into the sordid world of FFX self-insertion (*snicker*) fics, but it seems that the few I've read rewrite the ending so Mary Sue the Bestest Summoner in the Whole of Spira saves Tidus with her magical tears/sacrifices herself to save Tidus/resurrects the old Zanarkand (probably with her magical tears or the Power of Love?) and then shoves Yuna out of the way for some hot (???) Tidus-boffing. It pained me to write those last few words, let me tell you. As for TurtleNinja...I admit I'm impressed with her. She actually manages to juggle TWO Mary Sue characters in a single fanfic. Stunning.

-LC


This week's mailbag has made us never want to read a fanfic again. Ever. So in a sense, it was a very cleansing experience. Thanks to all who wrote in!

We're a bit backed up on off-topic letters at the moment, and we're temporarily at a loss for an interesting topic, so next week is a VGR Mailbag free-for-all! Short of pornography or viruses, send us whatever the hell you feel like. Missed your chance to respond to an earlier topic? Feel like showering us with love letters/flames? We don't care, as long as we get it by Tuesday, September 24.

Tegami o kaite kudasai! Baka baka baka!

- AG and Lita-chan

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