Sunday, January 29, 2012

Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood

I spent my weekend completely unproductively falling madly in love with ckret2's Be the Sea Dweller Lowblood. This is a Homestuck fanfic, which is somewhat regrettable, since it's significantly more accessible than Homestuck, and I'd happily recommend it to people, but I think you have to read Homestuck first.

I should note that I'm not saying that BtSDLb is better than Homestuck. I think that Homestuck is aesthetically superior to BtSDLb. But BtSDLb seems far more personal for me - it aims a lot more directly at my own personal kinks and interests, whereas Homestuck is technically amazing and sometimes really emotionally involving without being as consistently on the mark for my personal taste as BtSDLb.

Anyway, still can't focus on anything, so need to talk briefly about some of my favorite parts of BtSDLb so that I can maybe get my brain back?

1) The story is just about a large cast of psychologically screwed-up characters. Okay, so is Homestuck, but in Homestuck the importance of the cast is secondary to the importance of the story, whereas in BtSDLb it's the other way around. Of course, this wouldn't be enough to work for me quite as well as it does if it weren't for the fact that the individual characters work very well for me, but this is, personally, much more on an Angel Sanctuary level of, yes, people screw each other up so badly than an Utena level.

2) The story is mostly about trolls. I am such a mostly-there-for-the-trolls Homestuck fan.

2) Equius. Equius is already my favorite in Homestuck. Because he's a guy with long, straight hair. Am I kidding? I don't even know. Anyway, he's my favorite, and "[S] Equius: Seek the highb100d" is probably the single most effective part of Homestuck for me. However, in canon, Equius is a minor, one-note joke character. I love the joke and care deeply about him despite that, but I'm very glad that he's also one of ckret2's favorite characters and that she decided to develop him more deeply for her story. I also really like the way he's developed. So poignant! He's probably more universally sympathetic in BtSDLb, because he's oppressed and downtrodden and has internalized the oppression, rather than being an aristocrat, but I don't care, I love him in every incarnation no matter what.

3) Eridan. Eridan was ckret2's other favorite troll. I knew there were people out there who actually cared about Eridan in canon, but I was always completely indifferent to him. He was a joke character like Equius, except his joke wasn't particularly funny to me. Ckret2 has made him significantly more interesting. I especially like the fact that he's not completely pathetic like he was in canon and actually does some pretty awesome things at times, particularly in his interactions with Karkat.

4) Karkat. Karkat is a really appealing and likeable character wherever he appears. I think most readers are fans of him in canon, including me, even if he's not my favorite favorite. He's just fun to read about, and it's always positive when he shows up. I'm not sure that ckret2 improves on Karkat's development in the same way she does with Equius and Eridan, but I really like her version of the character, and how complex he is. At first, I thought he really did enjoy his position and his life, which I kind of liked - it was soooo cute - sorry, adorabloodthirsty - but of course it's even better to keep him all self-loathing and deceptive of others but still basically decent but really messed-up. So I love the way his character is done here.

5) Sollux - I just. . . this Sollux is amazing. Amazing.

6) Rhosyn - I have mixed feelings about Rose in canon, and the same is true about Rhosyn in BtSDLB. But what is done with her is just in general amazing. Her sarcasm is universal. It can be really hard to read. I think this is great.

7) DAIVAT - I don't actually like Dave much in canon. I mean, I like him when he is interacting with most of the trolls (TAVROS! GAMZEE! EQUIUS!), but I don't like him as a character that much - he irritates me. But I think I just unambiguously adore Daivat. His character is so interesting and so much more appealing than Dave and I CANNOT WAIT for all sorts of people to start realizing his deep, dark secret. It is going to be so awesome.

8) Vriska's scene with Dualscar - I am not a Vriska fan (this is a controversial issue). I don't hate hate her like some fans apparently do, and I do think I understand why some people like her. But she does irritate me, and I do generally root against her. I started out feeling similarly about her in this story, but I think ckret2's done a good job of using the scenario where, instead of being an upper-middle-class kid bullying and tormenting a lower-class kid, she's a lower-middle-class kid bullying and tormenting royalty, and generally using this to make her more sympathetic. Some of the parts of the comic that have spoken to me the most powerfully have been things Vriksa said (of course, because a lot of what she says is about the futility of hope and talking about how useful hope is is always the way to my heart), and in particular her scene talking to the ghost of Dualscar was really powerful. Oh, and ckret2 has actually also done a good job of making me like Terezi less (in canon, I don't necessarily feel passionate about her, but I do like her because she's my patron troll). Her reaction to what happened to Sollux and what she did to Vriska and Karkat were both really pretty awful.

9) Sollux and Karkat - Oh, man. I just love this. . . relationship. . . so much. Two self-loathing guys taking it out on each other and being massively screwed up about it. They want to get along but they just can't because they both hate themselves so much. Awesome forever.

10) The whole "Poor Unfortunate Souls" bit - Works. So effective. Of course, because part of it is Sollux doing that thing, which is amazing, and part of it is Karkat being sooooooo cu-adorabloodthirsty. But in general it is really awesome and lives up to the hype I saw for it on the WEBSITE OF EVIL AND DO NOT CLICK.

11) Equius <3 Tavros - This is not the most awesome relationship in the comic. But I found myself rather unexpectedly empathizing intensely with both of them. Okay, yes, this is both exactly how a relationship between a lowbl00d Equius and a highblood Tavros would go, and also something that is directly relevant to my own life in its terrifying awkwardness.

12) Equius <3< Gamzee - Epic. I had never expected before I started reading this comic that I would ever be drawn into shipping kismesis, because I don't ship much anyway (I don't really ship anything in Homestuck. Well, except for Equius <> Nepeta. But I would ship Equius <> Nepeta, given that Equius is my favorite character and moirails my favorite relationship) and because why would I care about kismesis, what relevance does kismesis have to me? But ckret2 does amazing kismesis. Equius and Gamzee is great. Especially the surgery scene. I love the way the power relations in the scene keep flipping. I love the way Gamzee casually threatens to tell on Equius, and how HAPPY Equius is to be cutting Gamzee up, and Gamzee moving, and Equius being driven to the point of confessing his hate, and hate snogs, and, yeah. I kinda ship it.

13) ERIDAN <3< KARKAT - I have come to ship it so much. And yes. I realize that neither one is capable of a true kismesis at this point, explicitly in canon. But the scenes here make me so happy. Karkat being soooooooooooo adorabloodthirsty. Karkat having no idea why he hasn't let go of Eridan yet. Eridan being so happy to find himself in Karkat's room. Eridan accidentally impersonating Karkat with Vriska. ERIDAN PURPOSEFULLY IMPERSONATING KARKAT WITH TEREZI (OMG OMG OMG, for some reason I just love the impersonation thing). Eridan and Karkat's duel and verbal duel. Hate snogs, near hate rape, and Eridan still holding out the possibility even when he isn't into it. Eridan's Jack Sparrow moment. Karkat's potentially final words being "Spade Laws." Eridan's happiness when he thinks Karkat is making it official. I just ship this so much. It really moves me. And it's about two guys who hate each other. Who knew?

14) Oh, btw, speaking of ERIDAN IMPERSONATING KARKAT WITH TEREZI - I do not like Suweet Broski, and I was initially glad that he did not possess Karkat. I was rooting for Karkat there. But ever since that happened I kind of regret my attitude there - there should be more possessing and, more importantly, impersonation. Suweet Broski pretending to be Karkat would have been awesome and so hilarious. I am so disappointed that when Sollux's body actually did get possessed Troll Britain's First Guardian turned it into a female body. Wouldn't it have been hilarious if she had pretended to be Sollux and confused the hell out of Karkat? And I know that Daivat doesn't want to impersonate Karkat, but I can kind of imagine Karkat wanting to impersonate Daivat? This should happen. There needs to be more impersonation.

15) Waiting so hard for the Ψiioniic to show up in the present day.

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