8th Dec: printfogey
: Can you name two fandoms that truly surprised you, in a good way? Like you thought you knew what kind of book/comic/manga/show it would be the subject matter and tone, and then it turned out to either be about something quite different, or the way it treated the subject matter was way different from what it first seemed/what you had assumed.
Or maybe it was just unexpectedly good at what it was doing. Anything's fine!
I think you're kind of anticipating this one but I don't think I can not
mention One Piece, because it looks insane
, and I'd just been thoroughly turned off Shonen manga by the brain-sucking monstrosity that is Naruto (I think I got as far as time-skip, missing out a number of episodes on the way and then just... couldn't be bothered. I mean, I fucking love
Gai and Lee and I didn't actually mind Naruto himself, but it's pretty obvious there are a zillion characters and the creator's interest is mostly focused on the atrociously uninteresting ones and the fandom is only focused on Sasuke). So yeah. I think I started watching because I was reading TvTropes and discovered Luffy had a similar power to Reed Richards, and the body horror/body modification stuff is always interesting to me. It looked completely nuts and I watched a few clips on YouTube and then I watched a few fight scenes and montages and then before I knew it I was watching the whole thing in order.
What I seriously, definitely wasn't
expecting from the design of the characters and the general tone and the colours and the crazy was to discover this was actually A Show To Take Very Seriously. Which could and frequently did
reduce it's audience to pathetic sobbing. And by the time you get to Nico Robin's backstory arc, really, there aren't enough tears in the world.
I think I watched most of the anime before I started reading the manga, on this one, but I can't be absolutely sure, it was a few years ago now.
I don't think there's another that's Surprising on the same level. I didn't expect Haven
to take over my brain the way it did. I didn't expect Firefly
to be worth the hype. I didn't have any expectations going into Fullmetal Alchemist
(the first anime) because I'd never watched an anime that had that much emotion in it before and the hero was... kind of "eh, that's
the hero?" and "like this is ever going to be anything I can take seriously? He's a freakin' tiny bad-tempered kid!" That was a very weird first-episode introduction, and that anime/manga are the nearest thing as damn it to fannish perfection for me now.
Maybe 3x3 Eyes
? Because I think that time I was also
TvTroping for body horror (it seems to be a thing I do when I'm between shows and in need of a fandom: I swear I don't know why, but horror in general doesn't draw me, I'm too fascinated by the supernatural IRL and I've watched/read too much profiler-type stuff to do more than doubt the psychology in slasher killers) and somehow stumbled across Yakumo's regeneration power, and it was a horror manga. I don't know if this was about the same time I was reading Franken Fran
? I read a bunch of horror manga. So I was reading stuff that was pretty bloody and unyieldingly grim (though Franken Fran
is pretty funny, too). And 3x3 Eyes
? It's really bloody, but it's also really damn sweet
. The characters are so earnest and well-meaning and essentially good and just adorable
. The character designs are cute without being too unreal or overboard with it. The two main characters are a obviously a couple and they're a couple pretty much right the way through and tension isn't artificially derived from trying to split them up or engender misunderstandings between them... though there's so much going on that they don't actually get to consummate until almost the end of the series (that and there's the somewhat less amenable dual personality of the heroine, but it turns out they both love Yakumo in the end).
Anyway, it seems to turn a few things I'd got used to in shonen-ish manga/anime slightly askew and just be quite dissonent with the usual recipes of elements, and the heroes a lot more self-effacing and really just wanting to live normal lives rather than having great ambitions that they shout about a lot. I get the sense that Yuzo Takada kind of marches to his own tune? The other things of his that I enjoyed had a weird gentleness to them as well. (Shizume and Little Jumper. Didn't like the Blue Seed anime much, though, too much perving on the underage heroine.) And it is
very bloody but most of that's Yakumo, who Gets Better (nb. healing factor: not so fun as you'd think it'd be), and toward the end it also gets very grim, and the ending isn't the happiest in the world, though it does have a sort of It All Ends Well Eventually clause. But I think this one felt more like an epic science fiction read for me than a manga, and especially than a horror or shonen manga. Felt like the stuff I used to borrow off my dad's bookself and curl up with when I was 14.
(There should be an anime of this one. It would kick ass. And then more people would get to be fannish about it. Yes.)
I don't know if this is the most helpful answer to the question, but there it is...
Now I want to re-read Franken Fran.