I want to dust off one of my usual topics again, but I'm going to discuss it in a different sort of way. It's time to once again delve into the thing I call "The Unstoppable Feeling" or TUF for short. Here's why: I've always known that TUF is a combination of a number of things. Depression, dysphoria, jealousy, and all sorts of other things put together make up TUF. I've also always known that there are times when I've felt something similar to TUF when there's nothing to trigger the kin-related part of it. It's the same mix of feelings, except without the longing to not be human. Like TUF, it happens after I encounter something in fiction that I relate to, but not anything that has to do with transformation. I'm exploring this because it recently came up again, and it made me question exactly what TUF is. Could it just be an intense connection with fictional characters, the kind that everyone gets but that I'm somehow more sensitive to? Could it actually have nothing to do with my kin nature, despite being how I discovered my kin nature in the first place? And what would that mean for my identity?
I've fallen down the "what if I'm not really otherkin" rabbit hole far too many times in the past 16 years, and I always end up back where I started, so I rejected that idea out of hand. But I still need to keep an open mind. So let's frame the question this way: can the feeling I get when I feel an intense connection with a fictional character who has something bad happen to them help me narrow down exactly what makes TUF unique? Well, let's start with two things. First, to make things easier, the feeling I get when I connect with a fictional character who has bad things happen to them will henceforth be referred to as "The Annoying Feeling 2" or TAF2 to make things easier to type and read. Second, as much out of interest as it is because it helps the discussion, I should talk about what caused TAF2 this time around.
As I mentioned in another blog entry or two, I just finished the video game "Zero Escape: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors". On that note, there are going to be minor spoilers for the Zero Escape series here, so keep that in mind. Also, the rest of this paragraph is just detailing some things from the series, so you can skip it if you don't want spoilers or just don't care. Anyway, a brief synopsis: "999" (as I call it for short) is part visual novel and part room escape game. You play as a college student named Junpei, a character that I found very relatable to myself early on. We have similar ages and personalities. Anyway, in the final true ending of the game, just when Junpei's relationship and connection with his childhood friend/love interest Akane reaches its maximum, Akane disappears and it's left unclear whether she ever actually cared for him. I couldn't let this ambiguity stand, because my brain refuses to leave things unresolved, so I looked online to see if there was something I missed. I learned that both characters actually appear in the game's two sequels, and things take some dark turns. The first sequel, Virtue's Last Reward, takes place in a dark future around 40 years after the first game, wherein a virus has wiped out most of humanity, and an elderly Junpei has grown cold and bitter after spending most of his life looking for Akane and not finding her. So pretty bad, but given that this series is all about multiple timelines, there's hope in the third game in the series, Zero Time Dilemma. This one actually takes place one year after 999, and the timeline leading up to Virtue's Last Reward is just one of many possible paths the characters can take in this game. But even Zero Time Dilemma, set just one year later, shows a colder and more jaded Junpei, almost unrecognizable in the official character art. He looks much less lighthearted in the newer game; granted, this and his unrecognizability partly come from a change in art style, but it's still striking. Reading and seeing all of this is what started TAF2.
As always happens, I wanted to start playing the sequels right away to extend the experience and reach the final conclusion faster. Things being left unresolved, especially when they're situations I really care about (real or fictional), is something my brain just can't handle. But anyway, it became apparent quickly how similar this feeling was to TUF. And it did make me worry, momentarily, if I had my understanding all wrong. But it's not nearly as bad as TUF, so it doesn't necessarily mean I had things wrong. Alas, I've written so much already that I've tired myself out, and need to take a break. I'll write the rest of this out tomorrow or so.
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