Fanart Friday returns, thoroughly satisfied with Star Trek Into Darkness. "This ship has no offensive capabilities--" "It has us!" So badass. Anyways! Last week, we continued the "tropes" theme, exploring good guys who aren't very nice and villains who still have excellent manners via the "Good is Not Nice" and "Affably Evil" tropes. This week, we'll be looking at bonds between characters that are like family without necessarily being family--TRUE COMPANIONS!
It's not Rickrolling if I'm actually using the song correctly
This trope originally used to be called "NAKAMA," referencing the Japanese word (仲間) that often means a colleague or comrade, but can mean much more in context. Some translators choose to leave it as-is, but recently I've felt that each specific use of the word deserves special care, like how Firefly and One Piece use the term "crew" to mean far more than what it sounds like. I've seen it translated as "comrade," as "friend," and the surprisingly eloquent and descriptive "one of us." So with that in mind, let's get started!
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This one's heartbreaking. Cowboy Bebop is one series that always makes me get that feeling that's equal parts "I love you guys" and "I'm going to strangle you all," because the crew of the Bebop do love each other--they just have a really hard time showing it. The last couple episodes are especially hard for me to watch.
Aside from their DCAU incarnation, I've always felt that the Justice League were more "professional friends," while the Avengers are a family that bicker and and play with each other. I really got that vibe from the recent movie, which really went through the team's growing pains.
Okay, so I'm not far enough into History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi to know very mucy about the Shinpaku Alliance, but seeing Kenichi as a leading member of anything is kind of weird to me. From what I saw with Kenichi (I keep wanting to type Kenpachi for some reason) and his teachers, he wouldn't just put his life on the line for anyone.
I gotta give this dude props, because I really hate working with Copics. Everybody loves 'em, but I prefer the brighter, more solid colors that Prismacolors bring. Still, it's kind of awesome seeing all of REBORN!'s Vongola Famiglia in one place!
Sports series are often chock-full of camaraderie, and while karuta isn't exactly a sport, you still get that heartwarming team dynamic from Chihayafuru!
They're called "Team Avatar" for a reason! As an Air Nomad, Aang was raised feeling that the other monks in the temple were his family, so the insane gang that joins up over the course of Avatar: The Last Airbender is adopted as family right away to him. So wait, the whole thing with Katara... ew. Dude, so what, there are exceptions to the family rule?
It's weird that Left 4 Dead can make "brothers" and "sisters" out of whoever plays it. Seriously, I've sat down at Fanime with total strangers and had an absolute blast. This extends to the characters in both games, as they start out strangers and are willing to give their lives for each other by the end of each game.
Sometimes, when a bond is so strong that your friends are considered family, it makes betrayal all the more painful. Case in point: Berserk. I'm really not looking forward to watching the Eclipse movie after getting to see the Band of the Hawk again.
When friends give you shelter from a cruel world, you really have no choice but to become a part of the "family." The X-Men try to provide a home for all mutants, even the ones who try and take over the world every now and then. Even the ones who smell kinda bad, like Blob and Toad.
A lot of these "true companion" friendships and team-ups are forged in fire, with the characters having to suffer through terrible ordeals while building lasting, meaningful relationships with each other. Hunter X Hunter dumps our heroes in the middle of the ruthless Hunter Exam--they quickly learn that they have to work together or die gruesome deaths. Becoming fast friends is just a nice side bonus!
So, I can forgive a lot of you for not watching Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, but let me just tell you straight-up that it's really good, and actually pulls the characters together (and makes them develop and grow) in ways I wouldn't have expected. It's also opened up everybody's secret obsession with Velma Dinkley.
You can easily fit the main six heroes of Persona 4 into this trope, but I think it mainly applies to these four--Yu, Yosuke, Chie, and Yukiko--because the four of them work together the longest, and spend the most time together. Kanji and Naoto help, too, but they're just very helpful side characters.
Hell, Mass Effect is all about building strong relationships with your crew, and making sure everybody gets home safe at the end of the mission. Well, almost everybody--I always wondered why I couldn't leave both Ashley and Kaidan to die.
I didn't really feel like Yu Yu Hakusho hit its stride until the first arc where all four of the heroes have to work together to fight Suzaku and his flunkies. All the early stuff where it's just Yusuke (with the occasional assist from Kuwabara) just doesn't feel as lively or fun to me, because half the fun of Yu Yu Hakusho is in this bickering sorta-family that acts like they hate each other, but will actually fight tooth and nail to make sure everybody comes home in one piece.
Holy crap, but Gintama is just full of True Companionship. It's not just the main trio of Gintoki-Shinpachi-Kagura, either--there are Gin's old war buddies like Katsura, their frenemies in the Shinsengumi, and even the new additions from Yoshiwara. The gang just keeps getting bigger and bigger, and everyone from a random mechanic to a robot maid to a scary-looking alien who just loves flowers can count on the Odd Jobs folks to make things right.
Attack on Titan is not a nice show. It's not a nice world, either--people can die at the drop of a hat, which means that good friends who are still alive are a valuable commodity. While the series has so far been focusing on the power trio of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, there's still plenty of camaraderie for the rest of the people they trained with, including that self-serving d-bag Jean.
I've always loved Japanese dubs of English-language shows (I've talked about the hilarious Japanese dub of the '90s X-Men cartoon), but I'd really love to hear how often characters say "nakama" in the Japanese version of Firefly. Also, a part of me kinda hopes that Jayne is voiced by Rikiya Koyama.
For its first two parts, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is more about solitary heroes who have one or two travelling companions--it never really makes things deeper than that. But then we get to Part 3 - Stardust Crusaders, and a crazy band of Stand-powered misfits have to work together to take down the demonic Dio Brando. Like always, the brotherly love they feel for each other before they head into the last battle is just a nice side effect of hanging out with each other for too long.
In my opinion the single finest example of this trope, One Piece's Straw Hat Pirates will drop everything--their goals, their pride, their lives--if one of the crew is in danger. They all explicitly trust Luffy, because he'll go to hell and back to help them. Luffy even punched a guy so hard the color turned off in the world because the guy was torturing the Straw Hats--that was very satisfying.
And that's all for this week! There's no way I could have included every team or group of companions--who are your favorite "bands of brothers" in anime, manga, movies and games?
Like I say every week, your work is always, always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level or experience. Just PM me a link to your work, and I'll make sure to include it in a future installment! For those of you wanting to get a head start for next week, we'll be gritting our teeth and finishing the fight with the DETERMINATOR trope! Without cheating, who do you think fits this trope?
Thanks again for checking out Fanart Friday--you guys should know by now that your comments and submissions help make this column what it is. Have a great weekend, and I hope you come check us out next week!