If you are a fan of anything, whether it be movies, television, literature or whatever, you can bet there will always be some sort of shipping/pairing involved. The most common shipping you can count on happening is boy-on-boy love if there are two male characters that interact at all. Extra steamy points if these two characters hate each other’s guts, also known as rivalry, and also known as THEY LOVE THAT GUY SO MUCH. While this mentality does nothing for me, though when portrayed certain ways it’s the most hilarious thing ever, it does it for others and it’s everywhere whenever I’m on any sort of social site and it’s near impossible to avoid.
I’m not here to call out to these fangirls that love to ship the boy-on-boy. I know I’m of the minority that likes to stick to hetero ships may it be canon or otherwise, and that’s fine with me. But. But. There is just one pairing out there that I cannot stand. Seeing fanart and a brief sentence summary of a fanfic that comes across my Tumblr or LiveJournal just sends me fuming: Jounouchi x Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
“Really, Krista, really? Your most hated ship comes from a stupid anime about a children’s cardgame?” Yes, dear reader, it does. I happen to love the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters series, as well as 5D’s. And it’s not because I love the game and watching 10 episodes of a single match, no. I get the most joy out of watching the characters interact with each other – laughing, supporting, crying, being goofy, etc. I also love the Egyptology it has. And the general plot is actually quite good.
My hatred for this ship also comes from my loathing of Kaiba himself. I know, he’s SUCH a fan favorite, how could I dislike him? I will get to that.
The Yu-Gi-Oh! Fandom has given most ships names for easier identification. Jounouchi (or Joey if you’re watching the 4Kids dub) x Kaiba is known as Puppyshipping. It comes from an episode from season one where Jounouchi is dueling Kaiba and is losing and is shown in a dog costume in his defeat as a way of whimpering and bowing to his “master”. Of course the fans went ballistic about this scene, but there is one more episode where he is really in a dog costume when dueling Ootagi/Duke later on in the same season, but that has nothing to do with the ship, but there’s the origin. And there’s many accounts where Kaiba refers to him as a whimpering dog, as Jounouchi is frequently on his knees when he loses. And due to this gesture of submission, clearly they are meant to be. Ugh, no.
Many say their love is based on the Rival Factor. I do not find them rivals . When Jounouchi and Kaiba first meet, it’s at Yugi’s grandpa’s gameshop. Already our main cast is aware of Kaiba as he’s rich and famous for being already an established dueler. Cheerfully Jounouchi invites Kaiba to join them in a friendly duel some time. Kaiba replies snidely about how he couldn’t be bothered playing with losers. This of course angers Jounouchi/Joey. He’s just trying to be friendly and include someone as most extroverts do, and that act of being pushed away makes them very sad. Although in Jou’s personality, his first defense is to lash out with words, which gets him in more trouble, but whatever. Oh, and Kaiba sent Yugi’s grandpa to the hospital. What a swell guy.
Time and time again, Jounouchi challenges Kaiba to a duel. While on the surface it seems just to get back at him for all the times he’s been beaten, but he just wants to be seen as a person, and not a loser. He needs validation to move forward. “Oh, but that’s called rivalry, Krista!” No. Kaiba could care less about Jonouchi’s existence. He doesn’t like to “waste his time.” Admittedly, Jounouchi isn’t as skilled as Kaiba is and unfortunately gets lucky more often than not and loses when it really counts, only to be sneered at by Kaiba some more. I get that the baiting and making fun of is also a turn on, but I don’t. This is known as bullying.
I’m not okay with introverts bullying extroverts. Or vica versa. Extroverts feed off other people’s energy – they need it to thrive. And when there’s negativity and someone beating them down, they are very unhappy. All Jounouchi wants is to be accepted by Kaiba. Platonic-ally, kthx. No one likes to be thought of as a loser. If an extrovert senses they aren’t liked, they will try to correct it by figuring out why that person doesn’t like them. And with Kaiba, the only way for him to see you as a human being is if you are his little brother or an exceptional duelist (and even then it’s questionable). In Kaiba’s case – look at that smug look – he ENJOYS being a prick. He doesn’t give a flying flip about anybody else.
Kaiba considers Yugi his rival. The only time Kaiba won a duel against Yugi is because he freakin’ cheated. Yugi … doesn’t really seem to care. Pharoah!Yugi is like “Oh, okay I beat you again. Time to figure out more about my past.” Little Yugi is just “Good game ^_^ Yay.” Little Yugi is humble and doesn’t rub it in your face when he wins. While Kaiba is flipping tables, Yugi is like “It’s okay. But you asked to duel, so…” Basically the exact opposite of Kaiba. So Kaiba is obsessed with beating Yugi for the sake of that’s the only way he gets fulfillment in his life (seriously, the game is EVERYTHING to him). And Yugi keeps dueling him, and dueling him, and he loses and loses and it infuriates Kaiba because he has to win to feel he’s worth of living. Obviously different reasons than Jounouchi’s.
As far as Jounouchi and Yugi go, I adore and admire their friendship so much. Jounouchi wants to be the best duelist he can be so he can feel worthy to duel Yugi. He values their friendship so much, and dueling is that kind of symbol to him. In a way, you could say beating Kaiba could get him closer to that goal. As often as Jounouchi loses, Yugi continues to encourage him and give him tips and just be at his back for when he does fail. Positive reinforcement, which is key to helping any extrovert along. These two are precious babies, okay?
Getting back to Kaiba. I understand that Kaiba and Jounouchi’s interactions are likely meant to be humorous and are supposed to give Jounouchi more drive. And sometimes their banter is funny, but often times it’s painful. The banter is degrading and just continues to kick Jounouchi into the dirt when he’s already down. Kaiba takes pleasure in seeing it and continues to attack him as his own personal victim to make himself feel better. Some try to pass Kaiba off as a Tsundere, but he’s not a Tsun. He’s just an ass. Tsundere’s are usually mean on the surface but are actually softhearted on the inside. Unless you are his brother, Kaiba don’t care. He doesn’t have a development that forces him to change. There’s moments where there’s a forced cooperation due to circumstances, all the while grumbling about it and how much everyone around him are garbage, and blah. Once the moment is done, he leaves in a stoic huff. I can think of a few moments he “helped” the other characters, but it was more cause his brother was involved. Really, there’s no redeeming moment or factor, for me.
His condescending nature and starched trench coat makes him a favorite and it is funny every once in a while, but I just can’t like someone that doesn’t care about anybody else, nor have a positive character development. And be like some introverts I know in real life that like to bully already damaged extroverts. “But he had a hard life, Krista.” Yeah, he’s an orphan and got adopted by a horrible father that wanted to use him for status and have him inherit his company. Jounouchi’s parents are divorced and get’s beaten by his drunken father. Guess who decided to be more of a positive individual? Reasons are not excuses.
Now I have some examples of how I could like Kaiba. Or rather, similar character types that do the developing thing. Fast forward to 5D’s and you have Jack Atlas who is basically the carbon copy of Kaiba – successful duelist, rich, pompous, seemingly doesn’t like people and fascination with trench coats. But once he gets his butt handed to him by Yusei, changes in him start to arise. He goes on a date with Carly and tries to have “fun” and move on his life. He lost. That’s a big deal, yo! After some soul searching, he decides to join Yusei and his gang and be their friends and on their team. Corny, yes, but it made me love him. He still is rather pompous and serious, but it is played so over the top, you can’t help but laugh and love him.
Next, I have an example of a “rivalship” similar to Jounouchi and Kaiba. First off, Hajime Saito is one of my favorite characters of all time – he’s a badass anti-hero and is an amazing samurai, calm, collected and arrogant. Enter Sanosuke Sagara – arrogant, idiot, rooster head brute with a heart of gold. They do not see eye-to-eye. Sanosuke gets his ass handed to him on a platter several times because Saito is just a freakin’ BAMF. But the difference is… their banter? Saito baits Sano, sure, but you could tell in how lines are delivered, it’s in jest. If you want to talk about the biggest Tsun, give that award to Saito. You could also compare Kenshin and Saito’s relationship to Yugi and Kaiba’s in the sense of wanting to settle the score, but more to prove whose ideals are better. Saito does consider Sano a nobody, but fights him because he asks for it. Sano never does get to beat him, but his beat downs serve as a means to improve his skills. It gets to a point that they develop a bro respect for each other, and it’s really cool.
There is only one instance where you could say Kaiba “cared” about Jounouchi is when he dueled Malik and “died”. He regarded him as a true duelist because he died in the heat of battle. Okay, weirdo, don’t recognize how far he has come since Duelist Kingdom and getting to the Battle City finals, but cause he died that makes him SORT of great. But other than that, he sees Jounouchi as a nobody – not a rival, boyfriend, sex slave or anything. Once the duel(s) are over, he no longer exists.
If you couldn’t tell, Jounouchi is my favorite. I admire his tenacity to achieve, despite the odds being against him, his outlook on life, love for his sister, and friendship with Yugi and Honda/Tristan. And because I love him so much, I feel the need to defend him. “Because they HATE EACH OTHER SO MUCH THEY ARE PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER.” I’m sorry, it’s really a hate thing. And loving out of hate isn’t healthy, no matter how hot you think the hatesex will be. Loving someone to prove to them you are worthy, or loving someone you think is garbage is, quite frankly, no bueno. And Jounouchi is hetero as seen by his interactions with Mai (and I could have a whole other post of why there is so much yes-ness in this pairing).
Kaiba has too much of a one-track mind and will probably marry his Blue-Eyes-White Dragon card(s) than an actual person. Unless you’re talking about Kisara from his past life, who IS a dragon. Speaking of which, he has such disbelief in his past life, even seeing it for himself he’s in denial and doesn’t even want to talk about it.
In conclusion, I hate Kaiba. He’s a conceited, self-absorbed, bully, asshat that doesn’t care about who he hurts, with a god-complex. I may have just given more fodder for the shippers, but anything does these days – I’ve at least had my say on this matter. I’m very passionately against this ship.