After being humbled by the failure of Otakuberries, a small group of friends, refueled by their desire to build a place for like-minded people, licked their website wounds and gave it another try. Learning from past mistakes, they extended their reach to other facets of geek culture, and after recruiting a few more impassioned writers to their cause, they officially launched Population GO on September 6, 2010.
Pop GO was born through failure, motivation and re-commitment by a small group of friends. Two years later, through dedication, teamwork, continued passion and a bit of luck, Pop GO still stands just a bit taller, but still humbled, because of a family made up of writers new and old, and readers, who somehow have continued to support it since day 1.
That is our origin story.
To celebrate this day, and to honor those who have helped make Pop GO what it is today, we reached out to a few past members who dedicated at least a month of their time to the site and asked them to take part in this occasion by sharing their favorite origin stories from the world of geek and otaku culture.
Reconnect with some of Pop GO’s cherished alumni members as they share with you some of their favorite origin stories after the break!
The Straw Hats (One Piece)
Perhaps I’m just obsessing over this anime right now, but I’ve been thinking about it and I still think this is still quite applicable to my favorite “origin story.”
I really enjoyed how the Mugiwara Kaizoku (Straw Hat Pirates) were formed. How each character fulfilled an appropriate role and yet also brought a very unique and dynamic character type on board. Even the ship itself was an important member! Each arc that introduced a new member into the crew also revealed more about Luffy’s character, and exactly why and how he fits the role of Captain so well.
Every Mugiwara has their own dreams that they wish to fulfill but have also taken up Luffy’s dream as well and fight to see him become Pirate King. The term “nakama” (which refers to crewmates, although Luffy uses it to mean friends) that’s constantly said throughout the series represents the tight bond each of the Mugiwaras have toward one another. The crew also encountered many hardships and disagreements along the way, almost breaking the crew apart at one point in the series. Even after 2 years of the entire crew being separated, their loyalty toward one another and as a crew helped them to reunite again.
Yukino and Soichiro (Kare Kano)
It was extremely hard for me to pick just one favorite origin story, but after browsing my entire geek collection it finally came down to a manga series: Kare Kano (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo or His and Hers Circumstances). The anime is based off the first 7 volumes of the manga, but the entire manga series consists of 21 volumes in total. While the anime seemed to focus more on the comedy side of the main characters, the entire manga series itself is more of a romantic comedy with a lot of psychological and emotional aspects.
The story starts out by being introduced to Yukino Miyazawa, who is a model student at the top of her class during her first year of high school. She is shown to be kind, thoughtful and willing to help anyone, but in reality it’s all fake — an image cover-up, an act of deception — as deep down she is a self-confessed “Queen of Vanity,” truly lazy, self-centered and obsessed with getting praise from her peers. When she gets bumped down to #2 by Soichiro Arima, who is also a handsome, popular, model student, she vows to destroy him. While plotting to take back her top spot and gain more praise and admiration from her peers, Soichiro admits he has feelings for her, but Yukino quickly turns him down. Then one day, Soichiro catches Yukino acting like her true self and blackmails her into doing all his student council work in order to keep her secret. She accepts, but soon realizes that Soichiro isn’t the perfect model student as well. Tired of being used, Yukino stops doing Soichiro’s work, but he confesses it was just an excuse for him to spend time with her. Eventually, they both start dating and together try to show their true selves while trying to abandon their fake images.
As Yukino finally accepts her true self, she starts to create friends and joins activities outside of her relationship with Soichiro. We eventually find out that he was creating his image cover-up because he was striving to be perfect in order to avoid turning into his parents that abandoned him when he was a child. While falling in love with Yukino has made Soichiro bring out his true self, seeing her create a life without him there as often makes him afraid and jealous to the point where he creates another image: “The Perfect Boyfriend.” He is even thrown down deeper into an emotional darkness when his real parents return, but it’s Yukino who helps him overcome it all while showing him that he can depend on her and their friends for help if it’s needed.
The author, Masami Tsuda, understands the human heart and the psychological aspects that comes with it as Kare Kano is beautifully written and drawn. While this entire series may start out lighthearted, comical and full of life, you are introduced to more characters and how they all relate to Yukino or Soichiro in one way or another. It also becomes clear that anyone can relate to any of the situations, all its craziness and bittersweet drama.
What I love about Kare Kano overall is how Yukino and Soichiro are both over-the-top, exception characters that start off fake only to hide their true selves. They both help each other overcome it all, show their true, real selves, despite all the bittersweet drama and insane outcomes going around, but they end up discovering more about what they truly want in life. And that’s especially what life is all about, overcoming and finding your true self, all while doing what makes you happy.
I’m not going to illusion myself by talking about an origin story from what I use to review about, anime, because one of the greatest origin series for me is how Kim Possible entered crime fighting.
Serendipity best describes her origin story because many elements of coincidence decided to converge at her. At the same time, her origin story also shows the more-than-infinite possibilities of the internet realm. It’s not everyday that a newly made site for babysitting ends up as a means to contact for help. It’s not everyday that someone mistypes a url without noticing his mistake. It’s not everyday that the first mission a person has involves the capabilities they already have. Kim Possible’s origin story is coincidental magic and that makes her story stand out for me.
Moreover, Kim Possible stands out for me because she’s just a teenage girl (well, kid at the start) with no powers. Her crime fighting skills are based on her own capabilities as shown by her cheerleading skills in every episode. In a way, Kim Possible’s origin story can be considered an inspirational story to kids or even people in general. She shows that a person doesn’t need superpowers or a specialization to make a difference. A person needs willpower and the knowledge of his capabilities in order to make a difference. It’s about striving to be a person for others by using one’s capabilities, which she showed when she was able to get the remote at the end of her first mission. That’s why her origin story has always been a favorite of mine; it’s an inspiration.
“I’m your basic average girl and I’m here to save the world. You can’t stop me ‘cause I’m Kim Possible.”
Creation of Katawa Shoujo
Katawa Shoujo just may be my favorite game released this year. I’ve been following its development for as long as I can remember and, after I played the Act 1 demo that was released so long ago, I was immediately hooked. When the game was finally completed and released after five years, I absolutely fell in love with it. The characters, the art, the stories, the music – everything about it was so great, and worth the long wait. It was met with widespread acclaim, and even received a positive score here on Pop GO. One thing that has stood out to me most in following its development was how this game was actually created in the first place – its own little “origin story.”
It all started when this image was posted on 4chan’s Anime and Manga board, /a/. It was an omake page from the back of a volume of manga by doujinshi artist RAITA. The page had character designs, and notes for a fictional dating sim he dubbed “Katawa Shoujo.” Although the page was most likely just an afterthought, the idea became incredibly popular on /a/, and many anons took the idea that RAITA had and ran with it.
After various development groups and forums were created, a small but dedicated group who called themselves “Four Leaf Studios” was formed. Four Leaf Studios spent the next five years creating Katawa Shoujo. The full game was finally released on January 4th, 2012.
I love the idea of a group of people on the internet taking a page from the back of a doujin with a few character designs and vague notes, and creating a full-length, professional looking game released for free on the internet. I’ve seen a lot of ideas for games and such on the internet that start out so strongly, only to see the development completely fall to pieces barely halfway through for some reason or another. The members of Four Leaf Studios were resilient, however, and although many had their doubts on whether this game was going ever come out or turn out to be another doomed internet project, it was released. It’s something that makes Katawa Shoujo that more special to me.