Fanfiction – Spirit Walk, Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge

Spirit Walk and Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge by glainfach (Juliet Carnell)

Length: Oneshot and 13 chapters plus prologue, respectively.
Sources: Ranma ½
Rating: 5/5

There are many indicators of bad fanfiction and in Ranma ½ fandom, one of the most obvious is when authors arrange for Ranma Saotome to get pregnant. Of course, one of the biggest indicators of a true fanfiction jewel is when an author takes such a “mistake in the making” and turns it into a good story… and that’s what this review is all about.

First, in “Spirit Walk”, circumstance and Akane Tendo’s notoriously bad cooking result in Ranma meeting Coyote of Native American lore. What follows is a well-written view of how Ranma might experience a spirit walk, discovering various truths about himself, and having his eyes opened to how so many of his problems can be blamed on his deficient social skills and overabundance of ego. It’s an excellent little story.

However, the part most relevant to this review is that, in the process of seeking “that which he desires most” (a cure for his curse), he meets the spirit of an unborn child who chooses to be his daugter. He’s immediately captivated by her but unfortunately, it seems that she is doomed never to exist because, as Coyote says, “The spirits of children do not attach themselves to men”. The spirit walk continues, but Ranma is unable to forget the beautiful little girl with the flaming red hair.

Completing this proper characterization in this oneshot is that, following the spirit walk, Ranma decides to try being more polite, but still shudders at the thought of being a mother. It’s not until “Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge” (which takes place many years later) that we see Ranma begin to consider the prospect and not without much prodding from recurring nightmares.

More specifically, in “Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge”, Ranma and Akane have been maried for over five years and have twin sons. In the prologue, Ranma wakes from a nightmare built from memories of the spirit walk. Akane tells him that having that same nightmare five nights in a row has to mean something, but he won’t hear it. However, years of maturity do allow Akane to (eventually) get him to admit his fears. What follows is an excellent and, more importantly, believable account of an adult Ranma facing his fears with Akane’s help in order to finally welcome “her” only daughter into the world. I’d say more, but this is really one of those stories where any summary would be missing the essential qualities that make it so good.

As for complaints, I don’t see many. The writing quality is excellent, so my main complaint is related to the author’s interpretation of the Ranma future. At its core, Ranma ½ is light fantasy. While once can make a case for injecting economics and technology into a Ranma ½ future to justify certain plot elements, it still feels like a mild shock at first. Thankfully, you get used to it quickly, so the problem isn’t a big one.

All in all, this story definitely deserves a 5 out of 5 rating. It’s one of the few stories that I’ve re-read multiple times and, given that I’ve re-read less than a dozen stories, both original and fanfiction, that’s very high praise. I can’t count how much fanfiction I’ve read, but my combined estimate for both original and fanfiction would have to be at least a thousand novels worth of text and possibly over two thousand.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Fanfiction – Spirit Walk, Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge by Stephan Sokolow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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6 Responses to Fanfiction – Spirit Walk, Martial Arts Motherhood Challenge

  1. hey cool stuff….
    intereseting story to read about
    i was wondering why some problems related to pregnancy is not discussed …..
    james

  2. While I disagree in a sense (Ranma and pregnant shouldn’t be automatically considered a mistake, regardless what Takahashi said), I wholeheartedly agree that it certainly threatens the possibility of a catastrophically bad story.

    But the same can be said of any premise ever devised in fanfiction. In my wholehearted opinion, a good fanfic depends almost entirely on execution by the author.

    I have had the argument with many different authors about feasible storylines in the genre, and many are reluctant to attempt various different premises because “It’s been done too much,” Without ever asking the question, “Has it ever been done well?”

    just some sustenance for the thinking bits.

  3. If I had given myself more time, I’d have better conveyed my viewpoint. I do agree with you.

    What I meant is that, given how so many people misjudge their own skills, it’s rare to find a good pregnant Ranma fic. The only fics I consider inherently bad are ones where, regardless of their quality, the reader is supposed to enjoy seeing someone suffer.

    …and as long as the quality is good enough, I’ll read anything. (I posit that as quality apporoaches infinity, the probability of deep, well-written characters getting lots of focus approaches 1… and I’ll read anything with deep, well-written characters)

    I do have to agree that people need to think more about whether something has ever been done well. In my case, I do it all the time… I just haven’t yet reached a point where I’m comfortable writing fanfiction for public consumption.

  4. Well, as we seem to have a similar like for the Ranma fictions, I do have to say that a lot of the quality fiction was written over a decade ago. You have to dredge through endless layers of bilge and bile to find a decent work of Ranma fiction nowadays.

    If you never read Richard Lawson’s “Thy Outward Part” series, I very strongly recommend it. One of them does have Ranma pregnant and the unique problems that Ranma has to deal with in such a situation. Lawson’s fiction works were some of the finest for the golden age of Ranma Fics, though D.B. Somner and a few others are equally as fantastic.

    I, as an fanfic auteur, have often dealt with the stigma of writing Onna-Ranma style fiction (I am apprehensive to claim my fiction is Onna-ranma fiction, considering that is certainly not the focus nor the point), and there are a fairly huge amount of readers in the readership who refuse to touch anything that smacks of onna-ranma.

    Having lived through the best years of Ranma fanfiction (And waxing longingly for them day in and out), my own notoriety is somewhat lacking and remiss. I wrote a little known story titled “Fragile Clay” in an effort to try and put to bed the idea that all onna-ranma fics tend to be bad with predictable cliche’s and fanon POV’s throughout.

    So in the sense of Ranma and pregnancy, I always felt it was discourteous of Takahashi to nip the idea in the bud… but I understand from her perspective and cultural views why the concept was something she wouldn’t warm to. Likewise, for every one ranma fanfic of any pairing premise that is worthwhile and worth reading, there are probably hundreds if not thousands of others that merely fail at the attempt.

  5. Thankfully, I avoid most of the crap by periodically spidering the favorites’ lists of my existing favorite authors. It’s not perfect, but it does work fairly well.

    Ironically, the first fics I plan to release once I’m ready are Ranma fics… though it might take a while. I’m a perfectionist. If you’d like, I could grant you access to my story outlines so you can comment on them. (Use the Contact Me form so I have an e-mail to send the Google Docs invite to)

    I think I’ve read “Thy Outward Part” with the rest on my TODO list. I’ll probably finish them up during my upcoming vacation. As for D.B. Sommer’s works, I haven’t read many of them, but Shampoo ½ is on my re-read TODO list. As for “Fragile Clay”, it sounds familiar. (I read a LOT of fiction)

    Quality wise, my general opinion of fanfiction is that the world needs a better way to sift through it. In the “golden age”, the community was smaller and more closely-knit. Now, it’s larger, but there are a lot of idiots. Hence, we need a way to filter out the stuff which conforms to Sturgeon’s Law. If I can ever find the time, I intend to try to make http://www.ficfan.org into something like that.

  6. Interestingly enough, I have a similar (Albeit entirely different) concept whereas it relates to a new medium of fiction and separating the dross from the gold.

    While I am an unaccomplished programmer, I am able to make approximations of mockups in order to explain better my ideas.

    If you’d like to email me at chainedfei at the illustrious gmail.com

    Without those words in between the chainedfei and the gmail.com, that is.

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