Greetings, fight fans, and welcome at long last to the final battle of Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars! Over the course of two months, you’ve read as eight video game couples faced off against one another to determine once and for all which relationship is the best in all of gaming. Whether lovers or blood relatives, just friends or a master and their pets, relationships of all sorts were represented in the competition and were slowly eliminated through a series of harrowing events. Now only two remain, and after today’s battle one pair – and one blogger – will be able to call themselves the champions of Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars.
Our competitors today are Winstolf, repping Morgana and Ann Takamaki from Persona 5, and Pix, who sponsored Itsuki Aoi and Yashiro Tsurugi from Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. On Monday, each one of our excellent bloggers posted an article on their own website in response to the championship prompt. As their games both come from the minds of ATLUS and involve settings with similar supernatural phenomena, the prompt for this championship gave both pairs an opportunity to show off their special abilities on their home turf. These high schoolers went to the prom of a lifetime only to be forced to face their worst fears about their relationship – of course, that’s every high school prom, amiright?
Once the articles went up our Blogger Blitz judges went to work. They pored over the text again and again as sweat dripped from their brow, their typing fingers eagerly and yet carefully crafting comments which will make an appearance in this very results post – all for the purpose of determining the winner of the competition. Jace of Live Out Proud (AKA the blog formerly known as Zen Mind Zen Life), Andrew of Serial Book Seller, and Heather of Just Geeking By all gave their all to make the championship the judgiest battle yet! Now at last the ball is in my court to pen the final words of Shipping Wars, to announce the champion and bring an end to this two-month extravaganza.
So let’s get to it, fight fans!
If you’ve been with us since the beginning, you know what to expect. Our judges rate Blogger Blitz posts on three key points: compliance with the event prompt, structure of the post, and the relationship of the characters. We’ll go in that order to discuss the finale, so let’s talk about compliance first. Prom Night Panic has a few key requirements: the event must take place during prom, where a cognitive or mirage being must attack the character using their worst fears about the relationship with their ship. Both of our competitors certainly did this, but did one outpace the other?
The quick answer is no, and the long answer is also no. Both Winstolf and Pix pulled out all the stops and complied with all aspects of the event in their posts. Each article features extravagant prom shenanigans, a battle against a horrific nightmare being, and overcoming the worst fears about the relationship. In fact, the judges felt overall that both of these posts went above and beyond in the event compliance category. Jace said of Winstolf, “the event conditions were met accurately and then some,” and Heather felt that Pix “ticks all the boxes for the prompt but went the extra mile and made you actually feel them. It didn’t feel like Pix was just running down a list and going ‘yep, done that’.”
This often is the category where neither character is able to gain much of an edge, and that holds true for the championship match. But that’s okay, because the next category is one where big points are often scored, and in many ways it can make or break a competitor: post structure. This focuses on how each blogger chooses to convey their argument; the writing style and grammatical structure of an article have a lot to do with how it is perceived by the reader.
Pix chose what I refer to as the Blogger Blitz classic, a short story format following her hero in the third person. We’ve seen in past rounds how this choice can be a safe one but perhaps too safe as well. When I was studying theater in college one of my professor’s gave us some advice about choosing songs to audition. He advised that we never choose a song that could be found in a book of “top 100 audition songs” because these would be the songs that everyone is singing. Choosing a common song would make you look like an amateur because there often would be someone else who could do it better. But if you’re confident that you are the “someone else” that everyone else has to worry about, then choosing a common song could be a weapon in your arsenal.
So did Pix choose the common song with confidence that she would be the best singer in the room? Jace says Pix “did well in vividly describing the scene. Itsuki’s preparations, the almost lifeless people, fighting through the mirages… It seemed like something out of an anime or video game for sure.” Andrew added that “the opening set us up well and I liked the climax and the end.” She demonstrated excellence at writing in this style and that impressed the judges quite a bit. That said, Pix’s execution wasn’t flawless – Jace identified some grammatical errors in the article during his reading and Andrew felt that the battle against the mirage dragged quite a bit. “Most of the lost points from me here come from a saggy middle,” he said. (which is coincidentally what I imagine a review of me would say if I were to enter a modeling competition.) Pix started and finished strong but struggled with her combat scene during the meat of the piece – will that give Winstolf the edge he needs to break ahead?
Winstolf has been an interesting one to watch this year because each round he has brought a little something different to the table. It’s certainly a viable strategy – it worked stunningly well for Michael in last year’s Blogger Blitz Black Sheep – but the question is whether Winstolf was able to use that strategy to the same effect. Winstolf’s semifinal submission was a personal journal kept by Morgana, which filled in the middle between a few letters exchanged between Ann Takamaki and the owner of the hotel where they tried to have a relaxing weekend. Winstolf left the letters and journals behind this time to emphasize separate interrogations of both halves of his ship. We jump back and forth not only between scenes but the characters within scenes in order to slowly collect information over time. “I did enjoy the little inserts of the sergeant’s thoughts too. The writing was very descriptive and I could easily see the prom scene as it shifted from fun times to scary,” Jace said. Andrew added “Morgana continued to be entertaining, and I really enjoyed the callouts from the detective character hanging a lantern on the whole talking magic cat bit.” However, in this case the third time was not the charm. Winstolf had struggles, too. “There wasn’t really any clear break to separate the interviews between Morgana and Ann, and everything just ran together for me,” Heather said. Winstolf’s format got quite confusing at points, with multiple characters in each interview and the scene jumping back and forth between interviews with little warning. It was an interesting structure but not one that succeeded all the time. “I expected the unique format, and I honestly don’t think it worked as well this time around,” Andrew summarized.
Structure, just like event compliance, ended up in a tie. Pix crafted a well-told story with a strong beginning and end, where the imagery was strongly evocative of its source material. However, her grammar and her combat scene left something to be desired. Winstolf chose a daring format that was a fun idea and created some great opportunities for witty banter on the sidelines, but distracted from the main story and made it hard for readers to follow the action. Both posts had good and bad points, meaning that this competition is going to have to come down to the thing that started it all: the relationships.
Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars is about the love shared between video game characters, regardless of what kind of love might exist in that relationship. In the case of our heroes, Morgana looks upon Ann like a muse – he thinks of her as beautiful, of course, but she inspires him and when they’re not bickering about something, they are able to maintain a fruitful friendship. Itsuki and Yashiro, despite being opposite in many ways, are best friends who work together to overcome the strange forces in their world. Yashiro is very much out of Itsuki’s friend-league, so dealing with that is a big part of their struggle together.
In Winstolf’s post, the bond between the two is explicitly laid out in the way that Morgana’s fears manifest in the metaverse. “The relationship between Morgana and Ann was really well written,” Jace said. “Morgana’s whole fear was that his love was unrequited and twisted, and though Ann’s fear did not relate to Morgana, she still jumped to his rescue after seeing him so frightened.” Winstolf showed us how each character sees the relationship – and thus their fears about it – in a different way, but that despite that each one was willing to go to bat for the other. Morgana and Ann have a fun relationship that we’ve gotten great glimpses of throughout the competition – this post allowed us to see it with even more clarity.
As for Pix, she chose to show Itsuki’s insecurity regarding his deservedness in being friends with an idol, as well as concerns over how they met. Yashiro has a coldness that could very well turn into emotional distance, and we see that fear play out in a big way. “It wasn’t hard to see the closeness between Itsuki and Yashiro,” Jace said; “Itsuki had doubts that Yashiro truly cared for him as a friend, but nevertheless he charged on tirelessly until Yashiro came to support him. They worked well as a team, and I especially enjoyed the end, with the two of them confidently attending prom together despite the pressure from the press.” Andrew added that “It was the romantic wit and banter I’ve come to expect from them done well.” We’ve gotten to see the opposite personalities of these characters manifest in fun ways throughout the competition, so seeing now how that put pressure on them was an interesting change of pace.
If you’re thinking that you’re still having trouble seeing who the winner might be, I certainly don’t blame you! Winstolf and Pix have been neck and neck throughout, with tons of glowing praise shared about both and with both having flaws in the same section of the competition. They were so close in fact that one of our judges, Jace, actually gave them a tied score and didn’t cast a vote for one or the other! “I can’t really make a solid decision between the ‘better’ post this round,” he said. But at the end of the day someone has to come away the winner, and I think Heather’s judgment best sums up how the championship was ultimately decided.
“This entry made me want to play the game and that is the sign of some really good storytelling,” Heather said. “I fell in love with the characters, I was cheering for them and the ending was just the right mix of sweetness and wisdom about the true meaning of friendship. This to me is what a winning entry looks like…that is what I’ve been looking for this entire competition.” Both of our writers did a fantastic job in the finale, but one of them went the extra mile and showed that they could sing the common song with the strongest voice in the room. It is my pleasure to announce that the champion of Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars is…
Pix of Shoot the Rookie, along with her characters Itsuki Aoi and Yashiro Tsurugi! Pix went the classic route for the Blitz but she didn’t relax in the safety that structure provided – she used it to push how she portrayed her characters so we could see the depths of their struggle, as well as how friendship was the key to pulling them out of it. Her excellently-written post came away with the highest score in the entire competition, a 4.33 out of 5. Commiserations to Winstolf and his team of Morgana and Ann – Winstolf made a bold choice in format that unfortunately set him back and bit, and although he did a good job emphasizing the relationship between his characters, it wasn’t enough to outshine Itsuki and his idol best friend.
Fight fans, it has been a pleasure hosting the Blogger Blitz for you once again this year. I want to extend one last big thank you to all the competitors and judges – without you, the event could not happen. It’s been a tough year in some ways but everyone involved has been patient and understanding with one another, showing how truly supportive and amazing the game blogging community is. I’m fortunate to be able to call many of these individuals my friends, and I look forward to hopefully working with them again on future collaborations. For now, the time has come for the curtain to fall on Blogger Blitz: Shipping Wars. Congratulations once again to Pix on becoming the champion, and thanks to you for reading!