Three weeks, twenty computer crashes, heaps of screencaps, half-finished drafts, and one very exhausting FujiRyo buttfucking revolution later, I said, "self, what the fuck were you smoking."
So, uh, this isn't a manifesto. :)) There's no character overviews, no extensive explanations of why they work, and I didn't even have enough energy to give fic/comm recs, which was one of the more prominent sections of the ideal manifesto in my head. I'm just -- sick of sitting on this. I have no work ethic! I'm sorry! If you need me, I'll be that lump of wolf over in the corner, determinedly reading nothing but bad porn to clear my mind a little.
But without further ado, let me show you, my children, the gloriousness that is FujiRyo, whose canon name? Is "Thrill Pair." >:D
Match In The Rain
How do you make two young, good-looking
You stick them in the rain, of course.
I'm gonna go ahead and jump right to the beginning of the thunderstorm, because their game before that was pretty typical of training/practices (even though, omg, the genius and the prodigy, you can see the OTP a mile away!) -- it's when it starts to downpour, and they still keep playing, that we're given undeniably solid UST vibes, and when two characters who had nothing to do with one another suddenly transformed to boyfriends right before our eyes. (Though, check out Ryoma sitting between Fuji's legs as punishment from Ryuuzaki-sensei. >:D That was definitely a squee-worthy moment. >:D)
Seriously, even if you don't ship these guys: a match in the rain. How can you deny the hotness of that?
... *pants* ...
Okay, I'm done. Shut up. Let's dive into the EMOTIONAL SIGNIFICANCE --
-- asjfgf;jfgf I COULDN'T HELP MYSELF, I'M SORRY. :))
But, okay. That was it.
(When the entire team is watching you have eyesex with each other... there's a joke here, I just know it.)
Anyway, after the match and in the empty locker room, Fuji stands at the window and gives a lazy, eyes-open smile --
-- and the Thrill Pair is in business!
Otherwise known as Yeah, Fuji Kicks Ass, And His Owns Your Mother. Inspired by Taka-san's bloody and self-sacrificing play (middleschool tennis is serious business, y'all), Fuji easily trumps Hyoutei's
"Hey, Echizen. Do have a good view over there?"
"I see everything."
"Echizen, you know Tsubame Gaeshi and Higuma Otoshi, right? So now, I will show you... the last triple counter." (<-- which, by the way, not even Inui had seen yet. just a note. *whistles*)
Yuuta: Echizen, you told me to aim higher... but my goal is still my brother!
Ryoma: *smiles, showing teeth* That's fine. Whatever...
The water bottle is a phallic symbol.
Say what you will, but in my eyes, that show was entirely for Ryoma.
And what does this mean for the Fuji + Ryoma dynamic? Their match in the rain gave off the impression that they viewed each other as rivals, or at least some kind of equal-footed competition, but here Ryoma is impressed over and over again (the surprised face shots, his acknowledgment of Yuuta's goal, the fact he offered the water bottle in the first place) and it's clear that Fuji, at least for now, is the stronger of the two. So... where's Ryoma's drive? Why isn't he pointing out his racket with a cocky smirk and asking his senpai if he wants to play? Something's holding him back. He told Momo after playing Fuji that Seigaku had two monsters on the team -- presumably, Tezuka and Fuji -- and usually the fact that someone is considered strong is enough to make him itch for a challenge (see: Sanada, their unofficial game in the anime before the finals).
Personally, I think he's being held back because Fuji puts him in a harness every Saturday night. :))
Oh, yes. It's a rematch! Fuji and Ryoma go head-to-head, special-move-to-special-move, in a thrilling and nail-biting repeat of their earlier match in the rain. There's even a second convenient rainstorm. It's so intense that Fuji opens his eyes, like, three times, and it ends with Ryoma actually crying (and on his knees before Fuji, ahem) before running off the courts in despair.
It is also, by the way, a chibi episode.
Rematch #2! This time, Ryoma performs befitting a character of his status (read: the protagonist), and the game ends in a draw -- and a handshake in front of the sunset.
Ah, young love. Doesn't it make you tingle?
Seigaku does billiards! Fuji, the big dork, is so experienced that he has his own personal cue, but Ryoma's never played before. This makes it all the more shocking when he quickly learns from everyone around him and winds up beating Fuji one-on-one to take the title of champion. No, really. This face? The face of total and complete surprise.
Mm, play with those balls, boys.
In the anime, Fuji played for Tachibana, who Kirihara put in the hospital with his violent techniques. In the manga, though, it's a whole different story -- literally. Before the Kantou finals, Ryoma stumbled across Rikkai and played an unofficial match with Kirihara, where he eventually triumphed but only at the cost of a knee injury. Now, fast-forward to the tournament. Ryoma's been freaking out at practice every time someone looks at him with bloodshot eyes, and all of Rikkai is staring at him; Fuji puts two and two together when he plays Kirihara himself, and Kirihara is extra-sensitive to attacks aimed at his knees. TIME FOR REVENGE ON HIS BOYFRIEND'S BEHALF. Kirihara temporarily blinds him (oh Fuji! ♥ ♥ ♥), but Fuji doesn't let something so trivial as a loss of vision affect his tennis (I told you guys, it's SERIOUS BUSINESS), and when Kirihara's super-powerful smash at match point threatens to blow right through his racket, Ryoma shouts out "Fuji-senpai! Use the frame!"
Fuji does, and Fuji wins.
Now, the FujiRyo in this, I hope, is clear. Fuji only plays all-out for someone if he cares about them (Yuuta), or they've left an impression on him (Tachibana). Ryoma fits this description as a teammate alone. Add in the personal vendetta (genuine dislike for Kirihara), and the pressure (if Fuji didn't win, Seigaku would lose the finals), and suddenly this victory has a lot more meaning that just defending someone's honor or playing hard for Tezuka -- it's turned into something important, something monumental. It's about rising to challenges and not just playing around. This has become about him.
And at that one, critical moment, where he'd done the best he could but Kirihara's return was still going to blast through the gut of his racket, the voice that counted was Ryoma's.
Irrelevant FujiRyo goodness for everyone! Ryoma takes the initiative, first by sliding into the bath next to his lov-ah, then coming to his side during a pillow fight and asking if he can sleep next to him. "It's so loud over there." Sure, Ryoma, that's the only reason you wanted to be by Fuji.
Alas, alas, all good things must come to an end. You guys know the story: Nanjiroh signs Ryoma up for the U.S. Open, Ryoma doesn't want to go, Ryoma then changes his mind, Momo is upset. What's fun about this sequence of events is when Momo grabs Ryoma's shirt, and Fuji grabs Momo's arm with the Open-Eyed Glare of Doom (in what looks remarkably like a "back off, he's mine" kind of stare -- no? just me?):
And then Ryoma leaves. :(( As the team stands around in the airport, waiting for the plane that will take their ochibi back to America, Fuji gives him a going-away present: mood music. A meditating CD, to be exact, that Fuji tells Ryoma to listen to when he's tired
Was anyone else shouting "fuck the U.S. Open, Ryoma!" right about now? :((
Wait! DON'T STONE ME YET. Despite the obvious TezuFuji oozing from these games and the flashbacks, it actually has interesting implications for FujiRyo as well, and from both sides of the relationship.
First, let's take Fuji. (Let's take him all night long. *purrs*) Despite his admission that he has no motivation for victory, it was obvious some new/unexpected feelings were overwhelming him during the match in the rain (he asked Tezuka if it was "like this" after he played Ryoma, then called up Yuuta and said "I played Echizen today" followed by an open-eyed smile and "Hey, Yuuta... Seigaku's strong... "), but if it wasn't that he suddenly cared about the outcome of the game, what the hell was he feeling? He says he wanted to draw out his opponant's potential... and IMO, that's absolutely ridiculous, or at least a cop-out on Konomi-sensei's part. You don't skid around in a storm, opening yourself up to an injury that your team can't afford, just for the feeling of your opponent's true talent emerging. (At least, Fuji doesn't. But that's another character-analyzing topic entirely.) So what was his motivation? Why is this match so special that even Ryuuzaki-sensei realizes it's unforgettable weeks afterwards? Was it a thrill to play someone who could finally break one of his counters, was it just a combination of adrenaline and self-indulgence and wanting a piece of Ryoma's sweet, sweet ass? And since he's now declared Tezuka his rival, what does this mean for his view of Ryoma -- will it make their match any less memorable, now that Fuji has someone else to gauge his strength against?
And then there's Ryoma. Fuji's never been a factor in his plan to conquer the world of gravity-defying tennis -- that's always been Tezuka -- and thankfully, since Ryoma went on to beat him, there'll be no horrible "competing for Tezuka's attention" shit. BUT WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR FUJI'S POSITION AS SEME? How is Ryoma going to re-align his opinion of Fuji's talents? Again, consider that Fuji's always been stronger, that it was said during Fuji's match with Kirihara that he (Fuji) had surpassed even their buchou. That's not true anymore. Now that the tensai is no longer undefeated, and since Ryoma beat Tezuka who beat Fuji, does this mean Ryoma considers himself the strongest? Is his respect for Fuji going to suffer?
And here is where you go "fuck, Wolfie, are you purposely trying to cheapen your OTP by making a big deal out of throwaway lines?" But I thought it was interesting all the same! When Ryoma learns the results of the Tezuka-Fuji match, it's not "buchou won," or even "buchou beat Fuji-senpai," but "Fuji-senpai lost... "
*taps nose knowingly, then runs away from the pitchforks*
Hereby known as "eyesex in rain wasn't enough, disturbing and wildly inappropriate flirting while in chibi-form wasn't enough, and playing with their balls in full view of the Seigaku cast wasn't enough -- they need to sing about their love, too." Because they do! If you thought the musicals were suggestive ...
Fuji & Ryoma duet
You stared directly at me.
My premonition started my heart pounding.
The world on the other side of that image
should shine so bright that it's painful.
Ah, surely somewhere
you are realizing
the sign of my heart.
"It's fine if I beat you, right?"
"It's still too early for that."
"Right away" "Right now"
"Let's settle this!"
STAND UP! STAND UP!
Grab hold of your chance
In these arms, tightly, hotly...
STAND UP! STAND UP!
If I can't take it seriously, I have no interest in it!
Ah, out of the mouths of gay tennis boys: snark, rivalry, and in these arms, tightly, hotly. But wait! It gets better! Ryoma confesses that Fuji staring at him gets his heart pounding, and Fuji --
Fuji (Match in the Rain)
That completely focused figure of yours
is a thrill so mounting it almost collides with me.
The birds that have started to stir have realized
that a new storm is nearing.
Don't stop the rain
In the black rain, I smile quietly
Don't heal my pain
A sensation resembling joy is running.
Don't stop the rain
I let go into the running lightning this awakening
Don't heal my pain
I'll show you the me that nobody knows yet.
Don't stop the rain
The wildness in this heart awakens
Don't heal my pain
I want to see the prank of this destiny that's begun to coil around us
-- Fuji also feels something awaken in him, to the point where he'll show [Ryoma] the me that nobody knows yet and also expresses desire to see how their entwined destiny will "prank." Do you know what that means? I don't! But I hope it's a euphemism for some kind of raunchy intercourse. :D
why they work
... if you still don't know, you deserve to be locked in a car and dumped in shark-infested waters.
But, okay, I'm willing to cut you some slack. Maybe you don't see any kind of way they can commit long-term, or you're only convinced of FujiRyo infatuation, not genuine interest. Maybe you've only been skimming through this not-manifesto and looking at the pretty pictures. Let's dig deeper!
Fuji and Ryoma fit together. It's not perfect, and they can bring out the worst in each other, and their personalities don't always mesh together in a way that's even functional; they can clash and have issues and generally bump elbows down every step in their relationship. And still, they work. They're capable of complementing each other. Ryoma has his face fully turned towards the future, only concerned about growing stronger in the one thing he lives for most (tennis, obviously :>); Fuji's suffering from boredom, poking anything that interests him to see its reaction, only realizing his own passion near the end of the series. The huge difference in these attitudes drives a wedge between them -- and allows them to play off each other. What tips the scales in their favor is exactly how sharply they contrast, because it lets them see the other side.
Here, let me quote riddering, who's explained it a million times better than I could:
They have the sexiest rivalry but it's not just rivalry. They both balance playing their best to strengthen Seigaku while still taunting and pushing the other on and it's not as altruistic as Tezuka's actions, it's much more forceful and they both, in their interaction with each other, are less concerned on the long-term
and focus on instant pleasure. Ryoma is someone who makes Fuji take off his kid gloves and Fuji gets Ryoma all hot and bothered on the tennis court.
[... ] outside of tennis they are very compatible as well. They both have that evil/devilish/mischievous side that, instead of repelling them, makes them both interact more like equals than they could with many others. I've always thought that slightly sadistic (slightly, hah!) side of them which likes to push and tease and dominate is squashed/pushed down when they are with other people. Or they dominate the other person too much and the relationship loses any equality and interest from the tug of war/push and pull. But together, that side comes out and instead of one of them coming up as winner against the other,
it's a never ending rally (damn, I cannot avoid tennis metaphors) that they both enjoy and ....sex!
Because, see, she's exactly right, and that's the thing.
Fuji and Ryoma are about the possibilities, and I really, truly think they can be happy together, which is why they're my motherfucking OTP for life.
... Also, the sex is really damn hot.