pilgrim life

2016. 1 year, 7 costumes (and lots of cosplay tests on instagram lol). There were so many other characters planned for this year, but due to problems in my personal life, “casual” cosplays and/or cosplays I was able to make from scratch with things I had at home were everything I could do this year. Considering that, I’m still pretty happy since I got to cosplay some of my fav characters, so it’s all good. Now, all I can do is to hope for a good 2017.

The Shipping Corner: Scott Pilgrim and Kim Pine

A Character Sketch of Scott Pilgrim

In the first comic Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, readers meet Scott Pilgrim a year after his breakup with Envy Adams completely devastated him. He tries to justify dating seventeen-year-old Catholic schoolgirl Knives as a sweet, but safe relationship. Things won’t escalate beyond just hanging out with her after school, talking about mundane things like yearbook club and her friends, or just life in general. In some respects, Scott sees the set-up as dipping a toe back into the dating world. He’s ready to start looking for someone again, but not quite to seriously commit. Later volumes highlight Scott’s tendency to bump into and string along casual partners. It takes someone really striking, like Envy or Ramona, to get him to even consider investing anything emotionally. Even a first kiss with Knives, the squicky age factor notwithstanding, would bring a level of emotional involvement and intimacy Scott doesn’t want. In short, his relationship with Knives is slow and comfortable. An easygoing variant on the bedhopping and make-out ventures Scott used to entertain before getting his heart stomped to pieces. 

When Envy traded in nerd culture, she also emotionally distanced herself from Scott and the close connection they had. As she became the trendy, cool girl, she became more and more of a stranger to her then boyfriend. When Envy is officially introduced, she comes across as out of Scott’s league; an exclusive, untouchable, and idealized figure. She seems callous and cruel, inviting Scott to open for her new band and then making very deliberate comments to watch Scott squirm. In general, she’s painted as the antagonistic ex that “broke” Scott. (Though, while she starts out as the ice queen, she becomes more sympathetic and relatable in later volumes. I’ll elaborate on this later.)

In major contrast to Envy as this desirable, unattainable, and cold figure, Knives comes across as warm and approachable. She’s cute and looks up at Scott with wide, glittering eyes. It’s refreshing for Scott to feel like the cool, awesome guy that’s an exciting highlight in someone’s life. For lack of a better description, Scott likes the ego boost. To anyone else, he’s a parasitic mooch that’s lucky to have his encouraging, has-his-shit-together friend Wallace, if not his bigger group of friends. He has a support group, but that’s not what’s going to reinstall his self-esteem or want to pick up and improve himself. 

In general, Scott isn’t exactly a big picture guy. His respective situations with Wallace and Knives are temporary, like a scrap of duct tape slapped over a hole in a tire. If something works well enough, Scott becomes complacent. It’s easiest to just float through the days and figure out how to make it through next week. Answering the bigger existential and introspective questions that’d soothe Scott’s mind and soul are another matter altogether.

The Trope Challengers and Spinning Heads

Scott is the 21st century take on the haggard, shell of himself protagonist that TV Tropes lists as the favorite pick for the dreaded manic pixie dreamgirl. Enter the mysterious Ramona Flowers with her crazy, technicolor hair and too-cool-for-school attitude and demeanor. After recognizing her as a strange, out of place character from his dreams, Scott becomes wildly infatuated with her; dreaming up ambitious schemes to meet her or learn even one little thing more about her. To an extent, Ramona does indeed breathe much-needed purpose and energy into Scott’s life. But she’s definitely a subversion of the manic pixie dreamgirl: Her checkered past raises red flags among Scott’s group of friends, she has her share of petty and stupid moves in regards to past romances, and Scott brings as much meaning to her confused life as he does to hers. What’s especially interesting is that a manic pixie dreamgirl is known for improving or bettering her lover’s life. Every party in her gallery of exes harbors bitter resentment towards her for leaving them for a prettier face, cheating on them, or just running off when things got tough. Apparently, Ramona’s slights were so brutal that they’re hung up on seeking petty revenge and ruining any chances she has with anyone else. 

There’s some hints that Ramona still isn’t quite over her recent ex Gideon at that. Her story and the emotions surrounding her are wrapped up in a cloud of bitterness, indecision, and trying to find herself through a combination of nomadic wandering and monkey branching between partners. She reflects Scott to an extent. Scott shares the same brand of charisma and je ne sais quoi she has. So, of course he has no trouble meeting or stumbling into romantic prospects. While he’s dating Ramona, he has at least three other girls hung up on or interested in him. There’s Knives, his obsessed ex, Kim, his former high school sweetheart, and Lisa, his high school best friend that had a secret ‘thing’ for him all along. While Ramona is muddling through finding her own sense of self and purpose in life, Scott is going through similar trials by fire. 

Scott Finding Closure

There’s some irony in Knives channeling the angry energy of Ramona’s exes and outright attacking her out of similarly petty jealous rage. Knives’ later role is more of an echo to Scott or even one of Ramona’s exes as the scorned, upset ex-girlfriend. She takes awhile to ultimately let go, but when she does, it’s in a more mature and gracious respect than Scott, Ramona, or even Ramona’s exes. 

Why I say this is Knives directly acknowledges and confronts everything she did wrong where Scott tries to apply a bandaid or Ramona runs away. Another key element is that she decides to move on and reform herself for her own mental health and future. Scott needed a bit of a push from Ramona, as did Ramona from Scott to a certain degree. Knives discovered her sense of self far sooner than the leads did. Though, the integrity of Knives divorcing herself from her obsession with Scott is smashed a few panels later when Knives gives in to the temptation of a kiss. Though, the overall idea that Scott needs to move on with his life, grow up, and find meaning in life beyond his relationship is seeded here. It just gets reiterated when he tries, and fails, to get a rebound move with Envy and Kim. 

In regards to Envy, she slowly transitions from minor antagonist to a familiar stranger that sits in Scott’s corner. When Ramona runs off, it’s a brief break between her and Scott. He meets up with Envy for a casual coffee meet-up and while she recently experienced a bitter break-up, she’s as cool and composed as ever. She’s the picture of a mature and grounded adult meeting up with an old friend to catch up. A reeling Scott channels desperate hope that he can reignite the sparks between them and tumble into her bed again, even as a temporary bedfellow. Of course she just looks at him like he’s nuts. This meet-up was just one step further to truly moving on from their nasty breakup and making peaceable amends. Envy serves as a symbol for just how dramatically someone can change and encourages Scott to finally grow up and change himself. 

In the case of Kim and Lisa, their respective interest in Scott come across as more of a wistful ‘what if’ scenario. His one-on-one scenes with them complements the overall theme of Scott overcoming his past to secure and build a future with Ramona. In some respects, it makes sense that Scott would find as much closure in letting Envy go as he would with closing the door on a potential relationship with either Kim or Lisa. 

Scott and Kim Pines

While Scott and Ramona are a decent fit, it’s hard not to wonder if someone else might have been an even better one. Or, at the very least, how different the story would be if Scott had gone for one of his other romantic prospects. Between Knives, Lisa, and Kim, Kim, arguably, had the most resonating “Hey, wanna hook up?” scene with Scott. 

To set the scene, Kim moved back in with her parents and is currently on her own “finding herself” retreat. She’s one of the few people to reach out to Scott during his post break-up funk, telling him to come up and visit her. When he does, he’s supposed to be on a mind and spirit cleansing nature retreat. He’s exhausted his other options in regards to romantic prospects he’s been previously intimate with and is looking to reignite that flame. It’s easier to pick up where something left off since there’s still a warm seat in their heart as much as his, right? Kim was Scott’s first love, if not his first serious relationship. It ended on a bittersweet note when Scott had to move away. And ever since Scott and Kim met up again, there’s been an unspoken, almost wistful “What now?” note to where their relationship left off. There’s one panel where Scott rescues Kim again and just before he runs off to save Ramona, she looks after him with some disappointment. On Kim’s part, there’s a mix between yearning and uncertainty as to whether she wants to say something to Scott or not. 

Kim comes across as snarky, sarcastic, and eternally irritated. It’s possible that Scott was one of the few people to see the gentler, tender, and more vulnerable side of her. If anyone could crack her stoic shell and get her to open up, it’d be him. They have a long history together, if not a frame of reference for how both have changed and evolved over the years. They’re good friends, but not best friends. Given the circumstances, when Scott approaches Kim, she ultimately turns him down. She’s presented an opportunity that sat at the back of her mind in her most self-indulgent daydreams. Though, the reality of it is that she’d be a rebound and Scott would, inevitably, lose steam and everything would become a steaming mess. If there was another break-up, it could ruin their current standing. And on some level, Kim feels like they just aren’t that compatible, that they already tried once and things just didn’t work out, or that there’s been so much change it’d be hard to find a rhythm that worked. It’s a cocktail of reasons, but the biggest one is that Kim doesn’t want to be the rebound right after Ramona. 

If there’d been a little more time for Scott to settle and think things out, there may have been another, better, more organic opportunity. I get the impression that given the right circumstances, Kim would have made a move on Scott rather than the other way around. It’d be kind of interesting to see Scott and Kim go for a Round II as boyfriend/girlfriend. With how O’Malley writes characters and settings, it’d be an awkward, but enjoyable ride to see how Scott and Kim would bounce between nostalgia and present day. How they’d find a way to make things work in the here and now. Honestly, if Scott had ended up with Kim rather than Ramona, it’d lead to an equally meaningful addition to the message of growing up and maturing. Scott and Kim would have returned to each other after finding a better sense of self, then found some sense of comfort in having a partner to march further into adulthood with.