Last night, Kyell Gold was in town and he invted me and naomikritzer
to hang out with the folks at SofaWolf
.* I had a tremendous time. Perhaps the tiny bit of hard cider I injested helped me be loud and boisterous, and I remember standing at the threshold when it was clearly time to leave still shouting excitedly about Harry Potter. I'm fairly sure they had to shove me out the door and I was still talking to myself as I walked down the drive to my car....
At any rate, I bring this up because among all the things we talked about I was surprised (and extremely pleased) to be asked, "Why Renji?"
My surprise was that I never expect anyone to be familiar with Bleach. Ever. I know it was on Adult Swim here and plenty of people watched it, but I still always expect blank stares when I try bringing up my fandom. It's too "old" for a lot of the young Anime fans, and it's awfully "boy" for a lot of the folks I know. At any rate, once I got over my shock, I had to try to consider the question seriously.
I don't really know. I mean, my friend Kate always tells me that my personality better matches Shunsui Kyouraku, the boisterous-yet-wise captain of the Eighth (with his hot pink kimono and traveling samurai straw hat). Plus Kyouraku has clearly been in a long-term relationship with Ukitake that rivals that of Shawn and I. So why Renji?
Ultimately, I think I feel a kinship with his indominable spirit. I have always striven to get back up when I'm knocked down, and that's Renji to the core. His backstory is also deeply, deeply compelling to me... and it resonates with some of my personal experience (or at least that of those around me.) I didn't grow up as desperately poor as he did, but the neighborhood I grew up in had a reputation for being "the wrong side of the tracks." Going to college was not necessarily the norm among my neighborhood friends, and when, after redistricting, some of the South Side kids had to go to my high school, I learned all about how people judge each other over class.
Class is something I find endlessly fascinating. The ways in which poverty affects people, too. That's some serious sh*t, as they say.
Plus, I think, as a writer, the other thing that appeals to me about him is the range of his personality as shown in canon--he can be really, really goofy but also very serious. He's personable enough that you could potentially pair him with almost anyone, and all of that that lends itself nicely to a variety of storylines. He's also one of the shinigami that bridges the gap. He's just as comfortable in the Human World as in the Soul Society, so you can put him in either place or let him jump back and forth--which makes him more accessable to a reader, I think, because he can use casual language and modern referrences (and yet can be baffled by certain things for humorous effect). In canon, he's also almost always AT LEAST tangentally involved in all the storylines, so you can pull him from any point in the time-space continuim, depeding on the story you want to explore. Plus, since he's so close to his zanpakuto, he's a great vehicle to explore all the magical sword/soul connections stuff that really gets me going about Bleach.
Anyway, it was great to find someone who would at least nod and smile when I talked about this and they reminded me of the awesome that is Captain Komamura, too. (This one is by Tite Kubo, not me:)
They told me a wonderful story about a cosplayer who surprised Kubo-Sensei by doing a perfect bucket-head costume while ALSO doing the fox-face underneath. And, we spent a lot of time talking about the cool ways in which Bleach can appeal to furry fans, both with Komamura and Yoruichi (and Gin and Renji if you buy my personal head canon.)
Did I meantion I had a blast? I did. What awesome folks! You should all go and check out SofaWolf's website and follow them on Twitter!
* I will remind anyone just now tuning in that you are no longer ever allowed to snicker into your sleeves about furries or furry fandom in my presence. Look, I get it. I used to feel the same way before I met furry folks and realized just how much furry writing I actually enjoy. But, I have never met nicer people then the ones I shared Gaylaxicon with, so just forget it!