Article: RuReRo

RuReRo
Oji San

RuReRo

No, the above isn't a line of dialogue spoken by Scooby Doo. It's the name of one of the more interesting subset of Web sites devoted to the various seasons of the anime series Digimon.

To date, three series have aired on American television, and a fourth in Japan shouldn't be long in coming; there have also been a number of feature-length Digimon films. The premise: there exists a parallel universe populated by "digital monsters" or Digimon for short. There isn't anything really monstrous about some of them despite their name. In their more infantile forms, in fact, they can be downright cute.

In the first series, for those of you who missed it, a group of seven children are whisked into the Digital World, are supplied with communications gear called "digivices," and are similarly assigned "crests" symbolizing friendship, courage, hope, and other virtues. Sort of like with the Care Bears.

It turns out these kids, who come from various backgrounds and are of various ages, are in fact the Digidestined, and the plot follows the broad outlines of a Quest with plenty of opportunity to focus on the characters of the children and the changes they go through. The second series dealt with the younger Digidestined teaming up with some new kids including Ken, who as the Digital Emperor was turning the Digital World into a Digital Hell until his redemption. His story is so psychologically complex it deserves its own column.

In the third series a new group of kids deal with a darker story line involving a secret government agency, Digimon known as the Devas who are based on Asian zodiac characters, and a very impressive threat to both the Digital World and our own.

But it was the last episode of the second series that seems to have spawned a host of unusual Web sites. In that ep, there's a brief "Where Are They Now?" interlude where we learn whatever happened to the Digidestined from the first two series. Several have gotten married to each other, and all have pursued various careers, from law and science to operating a noodle cart. I was pumped, for instance, to learn that Takeru, aka T.K. in the American dub, grew up to become a writer.

But that ep also sent shock waves through parts of the fan base that thought they knew better than the writers as to who should have married whom. They had been nursing ideas of ideal pairings all along and that ep only fueled the growth of ... Couples sites.

Couples sites, as the name says, exist in both Japan and the United States. They are devoted to championing various pairings of Digimon characters.

In the first series, for instance, Jyou/Joe was a serious, studious, nerdy kind of guy with plans of being a doctor some day. Another character was Mimi, a girl with bubble-gum pink hair and a cowgirl wardrobe. Even before the end of the second season, there were JyouMimi couple sites on the Web, despite the fact that in the final second season episode they weren't married, at least not to each other. At one JyouMimi site, the Webmistress put the urge to merge characters into words: "Screw the writers, we'll believe what we want!"

You have to wonder just what they want, though, when you look at the bewildering variety of Couples sites out there. There are plenty of plain old boy-girl sites out there, but that hardly exhausts the possibilities. There are also a number of yaoi/yuri sites as well. For whatever reason, a good number of yaoi fans think that Tai and Matt make a lovely couple. Those sites don't creep me out; the man-boy Couple sites I've come across are another matter.

And then there are the human-Digimon sites, such as RuReRo. It's an abbreviation for Ruki-Renamon-Romance. Ruki, aka Rika, is the spikey-haired Digimon Queen from the third series. Before I knew her name, I thought of her as "The Heartbreak Kid" because of her trademark shirt. In the beginning she takes a cold- hearted view of Digimon, thinking that they're "just data" and meant only for fighting. This attitude softens the more she deals with Renamon, an elegantly-designed kitsune who chose Ruki to be her "partner."

In one sense, the "romance" was actually consummated in the course of the series when Ruki and Renamon biomerged into Sakuyamon, a female warrior in fox armor. This takes the Judeo- Christian idea of marriage as the two becoming one flesh to a whole new level.

There's something both exhilarating about the Couples spectrum. At the self-proclaimed Complete Digicouple Link List (http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/dejimon/main.html), the Digimon second season section alone lists links to Couples sites for 29 characters linked up in 75 different combinations. Mathematics isn't my strong suit, but given all the possible combinations (boy-girl, boy-boy, girl-girl, boy-Digimon, girl- Digimon, etc.), there's still a lot more room for invention.

As weird as it may seem, this is all part of what it means to be a fan. As much as fans enjoy anime characters and series, it doesn't mean that they leave them alone. As in most kids of whatever age there still exists the urge to PLAY with the characters, and the existence of Couples sites is a manifestation of that urge to play. It's the same urge that has populated the world and the Web with fan groups, fan art and fan fic.

Postscript: I was told by someone who knew the creator of the RuReRo site that they had only done it as a joke, only to discover that there were already several Ruki-Renamon sites in existence. I suppose the moral is: Never underestimate an otaku.

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