The Valley of the Character Assassinations

It had to happen. For those of you that don't know, Wildflowers is a Dark Kingdom fanfiction of epic proportions. Its total content weighs in at over two megabites, and it is generally considered to be one of the best Dark Kingdom fanfiction pieces on the Internet. This is not an opinion that I share.

I came across Wildflowers somehow or other early in my SM fandom and was initially excited. I was already in love with the Dark Kingdom, and the promise of a long, good read certainly pleased me. I popped in my favourite Dead Can Dance CD (Into the Labyrinth), got comfortable, and began to tackle the first part of the story.

Well, it was better written than some of the fanfiction I had already read, but it didn't strike me as being anything spectacular. The plot was interesting, I guess, but I found myself not being drawn in as deeply as I had hoped. Thinking that it probably just started off slow, and that it would get good in a little bit, I kept reading. As I did so, something began to subtly bug me, although I couldn't figure out what it was. I made it through the first two books, and prepared to enter the third, when something hit me.

I was forcing myself to read it by now.

neph-angel and zoi-devil [original fanart]

I love to read. I read a lot (and that's a bit of an understatement) and am generally considered a bookworm. My parents always knew that grounding me was futile, as I would be quite happy to curl up in my room with my stacks of paperback sci-fi and fantasy novels. I have never had to force myself to read (recreationally speaking), and even with the worst books I read, I always kept reading out of curiosity as to how it ended.

Realizing my interest in Wildflowers had died, I left the story unfinished and moved on to other works. I have never had the urge to go back and finish it. That is a bad sign, a very bad sign. Still, that feeling that something was quite wrong with the story had kept growing all through the piece, and I had not yet figured out exactly why. Reading through a guide to writing fanfiction on a site (which I cannot remember), I noticed a section that described Character Bashing and Character Assassination, what the difference was, and why the latter should be avoided. Then it all came together.

Basically, a Character Bashing story is one in which the author does some really nasty things to a character they don't like. However, they make it clear, either through an introduction or through the sheer ludicrousness of the story, that the piece is not to be taken seriously. They acknowledge that the character would not really act like the story depicts them, it is done for fun. For example, a 'fic about Chibi-Usa commanding an army of demonic Carebears, hell-bent on taking over the world. However, she is run over by a lawn mower, set on fire and launched into outer space before she can do this. That is Character Bashing.

Character Assassination is more subtle. It still involves a character who is misrepresented, but is done so in a more believable way. The author puts no warning, and the piece is written in such a way as to show that that is how the character naturally acts. The author may not even be fully aware that they are assassinating a character, s/he is just letting her/his likes and dislikes come through into the work. Unfortunately, fans who may not have paid much attention to that character while watching the show may come to hate the character simply because of the fanfiction piece.

Yes, Character Assassination is what was bugging me about Wildflowers. Many of the main characters are from the anime, but there was hardly and resemblance between the characters in the 'fic and the characters in the show.

In the story, Zoisite was married to Naru (princess of the Earth) through an arranged marriage during the Silver Millenium. He abused her physically, constantly beating and raping her, as well as verbally. She gave birth to Endymion, but after Zoisite informed the King and Queen that Naru was abusing the boy, they took him away from her. That is just the beginning.

I adore Zoisite, I really do, but I'm not blind to his faults. He can be hot tempered, acting before he considers the consequences of his actions. He's a bit of a pansy, running to Kunzite whenever something goes wrong, not to mention very vain. However, he is neither a sadist nor a rapist. Pay close attention to him in the anime, and I think you'll see what I mean.

When Zoisite considers someone to not be a worthy opponent (the Sailor Senshi, for example), he generally wastes very little time and energy on them. In episode 27, Sailor Moon blocks his path as Sailor Mercury flees with Urawa (the yellow Nijzuishou carrier). Zoisite pauses a moment, then turns his nose up at Sailor Moon, declaring, "You aren't a worth opponent!" He then blasts her with wind and sakura petals, teleporting away while she is distracted. He displays actions like this all through his tenure as the lead King.

While he certainly enjoys the downfall of an enemy, he doesn't stick around to savour the moment. When he had Nephrite assassinated, he appeared briefly to collect the Kurizishou, informed the youma to "Torture him as you please," and immediately left. Even with his most hated opponents, his attacks were always swift with a hit-and-run quality. He didn't play with his kills, unlike Kunzite (who is the real sadist of the group, if you ask me).

As for going so far as to rape a person he had no interest in, that strikes me as preposterous. Zoisite shows no interest in women throughout the anime. He is deeply attached to Kunzite, emotionally dependant on him, really. The only times he makes even vaguely flirtatious gestures, it is always towards males. He blows a kiss to the boy Urawa in episode 27, and when Tuxedo Kamen's mask falls off in their fight in episode 29, he remarks, "My, what a pretty face you have!" (albeit in a rather mocking tone). To put it bluntly, I don't think that Zoisite would be physically able to rape a woman, he just doesn't seem to be attracted to them.

Besides, he had Kunzite (and Kunzite and Zoisite were a couple when his marriage to Naru was arranged in the story), and was extremely attached to him. Another characteristic of Zoisite's personality; he has some low self-esteem. Were he confident in himself, no comment of Kunzite's on the beauty of another person would affect him, but it does. Kunzite is strong and attractive, and Zoisite does not see himself as being anywhere near equal to him. Zoisite always displays certain submissiveness around Kunzite, to the point of always, even in his mind and on his death-bed, calling him "Kunzite-sama".

The Zoisite of Wildflowers, though, is a despicable creature. He has a few good traits, but I always got the feeling that the authors gave him those grudgingly. Even if he does do something good, or is shown to have a screwed-up childhood, there is this subliminal message that he is a vile creature not worthy of love.

Now then, just because Zoisite is my favourite of the Dark Kingdom members doesn't mean that I dislike the others. In all honesty, I love them all (I even have this weird obsession with Metallia). My obsession with the Dark Kingdom borders on the level of "Unhealthy", and I adore anything associated with it. Because of this love, I almost didn't pick up on the second Character Assassination, because it didn't change the character in a bad way.

Nephrite also got some alterations, but not in the same way as his compatriot. Rather, his was the exact opposite of Zoisite's change. "Wildflowers" makes Nephrite out to be the most perfect being. No matter what he does, he is placed up on a pedestal. While I like Nephrite, I am quite aware that he is not an angel (pardon the pun). He was a bit of a misanthrope, over-confident in himself and more than a bit stubborn, not to mention cranky on several occasions.

As Zoisite and Nephrite were obvious enemies throughout their appearances in the anime, it isn't uncommon for fanfiction set in Zoisite's point-of-view to show Nephrite in a rather negative light, and vice-versa. However, these stories keep them in character. I've since moved on to other fanfics, and I have been a happy little fangirl ever since.

I'm sure I'll receive quite a bit of hate-mail from all those die-hard Wildflowers fans who happen to read this, but I would like to reaffirm something. That is, that this is my opinion, which is worth nothing to the rest of the world. If you want to flame me, go right ahead, I can take it. I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings, but all I ever hear is that Wildflowers is so wonderful and amazing, and I had to take it down a notch.

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