Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Heart-Melters #7 - Buttercup


Who is She?
Sugar! Spice! And everything nice! These were the ingredients chosen to create the perfect little girls! But Professor Utonium accidentally added an extra ingredient into the concoction: Chemical X! And thus the Powerpuff Girls were born! Using their ultra-super powers, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have dedicated their lives to fighing crime and the forces of EVIL! Yes. As you may have guessed (and feared for sake of my sanity), Buttercup is indeed the Powerpuff Girl. Created by Professor Utonium, Buttercup may not be the commander and leader (that title would have to go to Blossom), but she is the toughest fighter. She's highly no-nonsense, and loves nothing more than a good fight with a bad guy. Although her name comes up last, all signs point to her being the middle child. She had a rebellious side that often leads to friction with her friends and her families, especially her sisters. Yet despite her impulsiveness and attitude problem, she is not the Powerpuff Girl with a criminal record.

Buttercup's Influence (May 2002-Late 2002)
Back in the middle of 2002, I was quite obsessed with a dating sim called Tokimeki Memorial. It was an intense experience. Dating sims are all about the cute girls, and I used up a good 50MB of hard drive space just saving pictures of these cute girls. However, this isn't about Tokimeki Memorial. Rather, it's about the entity that broke up Tokimeki Memorial's stronghold in my life: The Powerpuff Girls. It makes sense, I suppose. The Powerpuff Girls are an American product, so it is much more accesible to somebody living in America. There would be no need to save 50MB worth of pictures to get my fill of the Powerpuff Girls, since all you have to do is tune into Cartoon Network. (However, I still eventually saved that many pictures.) Before May of 2002, I was admittedly somebody that did not understand the allure of the Powerpuff Girls. I saw Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins in 1997 and again in 1998 on the old What a Cartoon Show, and while it was amusing, I didn't think it was anything special. I had scoffed in February when I read that they were coming out with aPowerpuff Girls Movie. There was no way I could have imagine becoming a Powerpuff Girl fan by the end of the year. And yet, all that changed with the arrival of cable TV in my household. All of a sudden I had access to hundreds of channels that I was able to see only at a friend's house. One of the channels being Cartoon Network.

With Cartoon Network, I was finally able to watch the Powerpuff Girls TV show. I was flipping through channels when it came on, and I decided to stay and watch. The first episodes I saw were Collect Her and Supper Villain. They aren't exactly among the better episodes (although Supper Villain was well edited), but I was impressed enough with the show to watch it while waiting for the TV movie "Path to War" to begin. It was then that I saw the greatest of all Powerpuff Girls episodes: Moral Decay. Moral Decay is a classic. It had witty humor, a fun storyline, and a darned great montage. And of course, it had Buttercup in a great role, if not a little bit anti-heroic. In the episode, she falls in love with the power of money after earning her first dollar. When she finds out the legend of the tooth fairy, she became a personal but selfish campaign to rid the city of villains...and their teeth. Sure, it wasn't exactly the most flattering depiction of Buttercup, but after I saw that episode, I knew I was hooked on both the Powerpuff Girls and Buttercup. On June 1, 2002, the night before the ACT exam (which I did rather poorly on), I stayed up until past midnight watching a Powerpuff Girl marathon. It was intense, but I was happy because I got Moral Decay on tape. The Age of Buttercup had begun.

The Age of Buttercup
"The Age of the Powerpuff Girls" is probably a more appropriate name for this age, but Buttercup is undoubtedly the representative Heart-Melter. Sure, Blossom is cuter and more elegant, but it was Buttercup that melted my heart. Not only was she the main focus of Moral Decay (still my favorite episode), but I liked her tough, die-hard attitude. I seem to have a soft spot for people with a rougher edge. Most of the Heart-Melters I had up to the summer of 2002 fit that description. Anyways, thanks to my attraction to Buttercup, I became fascinated with the Powerpuff Girls. I had three video tapes of episodes, and later recorded three audio tapes, which I listened to while I was in China. There's nothing better than listening to the Powerpuff Girls while walking amongst the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Blossom and Buttercup became names of C++ variables in my Computer Science class, and the three Heroes of Time in my copy of Ocarina of Time were christened as Blossom, Bubbles, and Butercup. By the end of the summer of 2002, I was able to give a general recitation of up to five episodes.

My obsession with the Powerpuff Girls even led to a change in my internet habits. I was still a user of the UPNetwork forums. However, the rise of the Powerpuff Girls led me to other sites, and I eventually found myself at the PPGWorld forums. It became my new home for the time being. Even when I was in Taiwan, I was still eager to post on PPGWorld, although I probably shouldn't have been wasting my time. One of the key features of PPGWorld was its confluence of excellent PPG fanartists, including a professional artist named Christopher Cook. This was also when I discovered the charm of fanart. I've typically liked screenshots as opposed to fanart, because screenshots are essentially pictures from the original source of the attraction, and fanart are more often than not poorly done. However, while I can easily watch the original episodes on tape, fanart, if done well provides an opportunity to explore whole new world with whole new storylines. I began saving Powerpuff Girls fanart, and the pictures soon accumulated...25 pics...75 pics...150 pics...pretty soon my collection took up over 10MB of space, the same as Tokimeki Memorial.

And yet, my fascinaton with the Powerpuff Girls was not eternal. Fads come and fads go. In November of 2002, I saw the movie, and I was fiercely disappointed. No new episodes aired between 2002 and 2003, and the lack of new episodes caused the old episodes to become stale. My interest in the Powerpuff Girls had slowly faded to nil by the end of 2002. The Age of Buttercup seemed to disappear along with it. I continued to watch the show a few more times, including earlier this year when I purchased the 10th anniverary DVD collection, but my attraction towards Buttercup never seemed to resurface. The Age of Buttercup is now only a shadow of what it once was, but it still has a claim to fame for those special months in 2002.

Strength: 8 - Buttercup's tough-girl personalty won me over initially, but it wasn't enough to fully suppress Blossom's superior looks and intellect. So even though Buttercup was my favorite Powerpuff Girl, her influence wasn't as powerful as some of the other Heart-Melter who had all the attention to themselves.

Duration: 3 - My attraction to Buttercup began in May of 2002 and ended in November of December, a period of approximately six or seven months. That may not be very long on a grand scale, it's still an extremely long period for somebody who switches interests as often as I do. Very few of the other Heart-Melters had melted my heart for this length of time.

Recurrence: 8 - Buttercup wasn't a very strong Heart-Melter, so once I got over the Powerpuff Girls, I never really looked back. By late 2002, it became doubtful as to whether or not Buttercup was my favorite Powerpuff Girl. I never felt the same sort of attraction even after I rekindled my fascination with the show, even if she is probably still my favorite Powerpuff Girl.

Overall: 19 - Here's a fact that shows exactly the sort of Heart-Melter Buttercup was: When I originally wrote The Heart-Melters in Gallery in February of 2005, Buttercup wasn't even in this list. I had picked Blossom as the representative from the Powerpuff Girls. It wasn't until 2006 that I realized that Buttercup was the true Heart-Melter. It's quite surprising that she ranks as high as 7th on the list, but that just goes to show that she is still a valued member of the Heart-Melters Gallery.

Next Up: The Rose of Battle

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