I had an epiphany recently about my favorite type of ship.
(“Ship” as in “fictional relationship,” not as in “boat.”)
I used to say my favorite was “enemies to lovers.”
I knew, though, that that description wasn’t quite right.
Then I watched The Rise of Skywalker and realized, “Duh…I like Hero x Villain ships.”
What could be more fun than watching hatred and resentment blossom into attraction?
Now that I’m in the mood for love, let’s talk about ships.
Hero x Villain
Example: Rey + Kylo Ren (Star Wars)
I like this dynamic best in tales with very defined hero and villain roles, e.g., series such as Star Wars or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Heroes and villains get to know each other pretty well, especially in a long-running series.
Pretty soon, they’re finishing each other’s sentences and predicting each other’s plans.
Enemies might do that…but so do lovers.
The situation is RIFE with dramatic potential.
I like it when a villain begins to admire their heroic foe.
I like it more when a hero realizes the villain’s villainy isn’t so clear-cut.
When done C O R R E C T L Y, this is my #1, absolute favorite ship dynamic because it usually involves A REDEMPTION AAAAAAAAAARC.
It’s never too late (except for that guy from Crash.)
Enemies to Lovers
This ship has a few subtypes, so I’m going to break them down.
TYPE A: Classic enemies to lovers
Example: Marko + Alana (Saga)
Two people hate each other for potentially legitimate reasons.
Maybe their nations are at war.
Maybe one is a witch and the other is a witch hunter.
Or, perhaps, one is a Republican and one is a Democrat. (I read this love story and I REGRET it.)
Circumstances force them together.
They swear to hate each other for eternity.
SUDDENLY, SEXUAL TENSION ENSUES.
DAMN YOU, HORMONES, AND YOUR WICKED POWERS.
This dynamic is so cheesy and SO GOOD.
IT’S A CLASSIC FOR A REASON.
TYPE B: Rivals to lovers
Example: Momoko + Yosuke (Wedding Peach)
This subtype is as antagonistic as the first, but with less dire stakes.
Say two characters are academic rivals.
Or sports rivals.
Or Pokémon rivals.
Perhaps they’re part of the same rebellion, but resent each others’ wildly disparate styles.
Their rivalry gives way to grudging respect, attraction, allyship, and eventually love.
Commonly in this subtype, characters resist their true feelings, despite ending up in charged scenarios time and time again.
I like this dynamic best when it’s light on bickering and cruelty.
This type of ship allows for surprisingly tender moments, such as comforting each other after a difficult defeat or protecting each other from dodgeballs (…this happens a lot in anime for some reason.)
Whatever the circumstances, I want two evenly-matched characters fighting for the same goal.
…also, I think I’ve secretly been shipping Ash and Gary all this time.
I need to sit with this for a bit.
Type C: Forbidden love
Example: Karou + Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)
(fanart by axxxa06)
Two nations are at war and citizens are forbidden from falling in love!
So two fools IMMEDIATELY GO and FALL IN LOVE.
Perhaps one party saved the other’s life and tended to their wounds.
(This is just Tristan & Isolde. Why am I like this.)
From there, they arrange secret meetings at night under the stars.
They dream of a world where their nationality or race or whatever doesn’t affect their love life.
THEN THEY’RE FOUND OUT AND RIPPED FROM EACH OTHER’S ARMS.
DESPITE EVERYTHING, THEY FIND A WAY TO BE TOGETHER.
THEY LET THE PAST DIE AND RIDE OFF INTO THE FUTURE, LEAVING THE RESISTANCE BEHIND.
…I blacked out for a second.
What? Of course I didn’t start describing my headcanon for a well-known, big-budget sci-fi series.
Stop distracting me.
Example: Padme + Anakin (Star Wars)
This is my favorite iteration of the Uptown Girl, Inter-class Romance.
The basics: a bodyguard (usually male) harbors a secret crush on his charge (usually a princess.)
Sometimes there is an element of Courtly Love, e.g., “I love you but I care more about your well-being than my own feelings.”
As a closet lover of medieval literature, I’m ALL about this.
(Wait…is this ALSO Tristan & Isolde? Why am I LIKE this?)
This ship dynamic almost rivals the Hero/Villain ship. That’s how much I love it.
WHAT I’M SAYING is Attack of the Clones knew how to draw me in.
The Grumpy One Loves the Soft One
Example: Ronan Lynch + Adam Parrish (The Raven Cycle)
(fanart found here)
YOU KNOW THE DRILL.
Every crew has a Team Grump.
This person is gruff. Stern. Cynical. Constantly drunk.
This cruel darkheart could never love anybody.
YET SECRETLY, in their DEEPEST DEPTHS, they harbor a quiet love for another teammate.
The gloomy character does silly, thoughtful things for the soft character that they cover with denial and sarcasm.
They admire the soft character more than they realize. Looking at them, their heart grows three sizes larger.
Getting this romance to happen is harder than slaying a dragon, but the results are WORTH IT.
Example: Princess Serenity + Prince Endymion (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon)
Strictly speaking, I don’t believe in the concept of soulmates.
I have, though, had experiences with strangers who, for some reason, felt familiar to me.
Therefore, I appreciate a Reincarnation Romance.
Fictionally, it’s the closest I can get to the concept of soulmates without making myself sick.
Reincarnation Romance also serves to give the couple a history when they’ve supposedly just met.
Sneaky, sneaky. I like it.