Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Heart-Melters Gallery: The 5th Anniversary Director's Cut

A History of the Heart-Melters Gallery Five years ago today, February 28, 2005, I posted one of my most seminal works of mindless rambling: The Heart-Melters Gallery. The 8,000-word collection of nonsensical sentences and vapid gushings took a look at the eight animated females that had effectively "melted" my heart. I was driven to write this piece because in late February of 2005, I was absolutely smitten with Kaho, a character from Sister Princess. It was then that I made the realization that I had a history of being attracted to female characters from different artistic media (animation, video game, comic). I then made the decision to write about my fascination with each of these "Heart Melters," and to post it on NSider. I began work on February 25, and after a busy weekend that included being a crew member for Han West's Loss of Life and missing the Academy Awards to show Dolls for OffScreen (a masterpiece for director Takeshi Kitano, but an utter failure for composer Joe Hisaishi), I finally finished the thread on the early morning of February 28.

The premise behind The Heart-Melters Gallery was quite simple. I did a profile on each Heart-Melter in a chronological order by when it started, going from Misty (1999) to Kaho (2005). For each character I penned a mini-biography, how I became attracted to them, and a general history of the period of my attraction - which I called the "Age of the Heart-Melter." At the very end I included a couple of pictures of the Heart-Melter. I "inducted" two more Heart-Melters a year later.

The Heart-Melters Gallery was, in my mind, an instantaneous success. It generated a good number of replies, and also opened up a new avenue to prove just how delightfully screwed up my romantic life is. However, since I already knew the story behind each and every Heart-Melter, I never really went back to read the original thread. In 2008, I created a new list ranking the Heart-Melters by strength, and went about reposting the Heart-Melters Gallery in the new order. It was then that I went back and read the originals, and realized that they were a bunch of garbled junk. It kind of made sense, since I was so focused on getting my thoughts down before Monday of that busy, busy weekend that I didn't give a hoot about prose. So I began to completely re-write the entries when I posted the new entries, replacing the small gallery with a justification of the rankings.

The original The Heart-Melters Gallery featured all eight Heart-Melters in a single thread. So on this the fifth anniversary of the original thread, I've decided to post the ten new entries in their new order all at once. So if you haven't read them, you won't have to go anywhere else to see them. (Of course, you could do the same on my blogspot, because for some reason the site displays ENTIRE entries, which is a bother when I wrote over 30,000 words about Randy Johnson's 300th win.) The only difference is this introduction, which will probably end up being just as incoherent as the original, because I'm writing both under essentially similar circumstances. So without further ado: The Heart-Melters

The Heart-Melters Gallery takes a look at the ten fictional females that melted my heart. Each entry contains a biography as well as a look at the character's influence on my life (basically how they became a Heart-Melter) as well as the Age of the Heart-Melter (essentially what happened during my attraction period). In the end I discussed the character's rankings.

The ranking is based on a very unprofessional system where I ranked the Heart-Melter on

  • Strength: The strength of attraction during their respective Ages
  • Time: The length of the attraction
  • Recurrence: The amount of attraction I had towards said character after the end of their respective Ages.
To create the ranking, I took the ranks of the Heart-Melter in each category, and then summed them. The order is based on the sum, with lower being better. In case of a tie, the ranking in Strength serves as a tie-breaker.

10. KIKI

Who is She?
In an alternate universe where Europe was spared from the devastating effects of World War II and where being a witch was a rare but dominant allele, young witches were required to leave home at the age of 13 and make a living for a year in another town, preferably in a place without other witches. Kiki is one of these witches. She had just celebrated her thirteenth birthday, and is waiting for a good day to do her required year outside of home, hopefully in a city next to the sea. On a day when the weather forecast promised a night of clear weather, Kiki knew it was time to go. And lo, her adventure into the unknown world outside of her village had began. Yet things went awry even from the beginning. The wonderful weather that the weatherman promised turned out to be a lie. (Or perhaps the hapless Kiki had left the area with beautiful weather and entered a storm front). The ideal city that she had desired greeted her with animosity. And she's being stalked by a nerdy freak. But Kiki is ready to tackle these problems head-on, armed with an optimistic outlook and her trusty broom. She finds shelter, friendship, and a job with a gentle baker's wife, and a delivery service for her independence training. But just when things were started to go well, things fell apart. Can Kiki overcome the crushing blow to her optimistic outlook and complete her year away from home? Find out in Hayao Miyazaki's 1989 masterpiece, Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service).

Kiki's Influence
Of all eight Heart-Melters, Kiki may be the one that I had felt the least actual "attraction" towards. She was cute and all, and she melted my heart, but she did not tug on my heartstrings like the other Heart-Melters. If you hadn't already guessed, (the last sentence of the previous paragraph should have made it blatantly obvious), Kiki is the heroine of Miyazaki's legendary 1989 film, Majo no Takkyubin...known in America as Kiki's Delivery Service. It was the first Miyazaki movie I had seen back in 1995, (and I watched it because the main character on the cover was cute), but believe it or not, that was the only time I saw it in the 1990s. I was not really much of a Miyazaki fan back then, even if I did see all but two of his films before 2002. It wasn't until 2002 when I saw Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away) that I became a Miyazaki manic. And in 2002, seven years after I saw Majo no Takkyubin for the first time...I saw it for the second time. It was interesting to see how much my memory had distorted the plot, but one thing that didn't change in the seven years was the fact I found Kiki to be the cutest of the Ghibli heroines.

Ever since my mom purchased the Region 3 copy of the Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi DVD during my family's 2002 Taiwan trip, I became more and more engaged in Ghibli works. In late 2002, I found myself heading to KaZaA to download other Ghibli movies, and my main Christmas present for 2002 was a set of bootlegged Ghibli films. In April 2003, I bought Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi and Tenkuu no Shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky) when they came out in the US, and the trio was completed when my sister received a R1 copy of Majo no Takkyubin. In the summer of 2003, I borrowed copies of Region 3 Ghibli DVDs from a family friend, which I used to complete the "Screenshot Project," which consists of taking a screenshot for every single shot in a Ghibli movie. I had completed Majo no Takkyubin in the 12 days between July 13 and July 25, 2003, so I had 1,302 pics (97MB) from the movie, of which at least 800 were of Kiki.
The Age of Kiki (Winter 2003 - Early 2004)
So I never felt attracted to Kiki like I did with other Heart-Melters. Does that mean she did not have an Age of her own? Not necessarily. There was a period of time when Kiki was relatively dominant in my life, probably during my Taiwan trip from December 17, 2003 to January 10, 2004. On December 22, 2003, I went on a shopping spree with my uncle, who bought several Ghibli DVDs, including Majo no Takkyubin. With several Region 3 Ghibli DVDs to use with my laptop DVD player (set to Region 3), I had access to Kiki images that I never had before. I watched the movie several times and flipped through the 1,302 pictures that were in my laptop's hard drive. The crowning moment came when I spent several hours going over my pictures from the movie to create a Kiki collage/desktop wallpaper with over 100 Kiki pics.

I left Taiwan on January 10, 2004. With that, I returned to the stresses of undergrad and the allure of NSider chat. I eventually found myself thinking less and less of Kiki. However, Kiki dominated my thoughts and melted my heart during the duration of one winter, and that is enough

Strength: 10 - As I said, I never really felt attracted to her, but she melted my heart with the combination of her sweet nature and the self-doubt that gives her some complexity.

Duration: 9 - While I've thought Kiki was cute for years, since I first saw the movie in 1995, the actual time where Kiki melted my heart was rather short. It came in the middle of the Taiwan trip, in the last few days of 2003, and was over by the time I went back to college, so about half a month. It's not the shortest, but not very long either.

Recurrence: 9- After January 2004, I slowly drifted away from my Studio Ghibli fanaticism, and the possibilities of a recurring heart-melting campaign died along with it. It's really a pity. She's not at the very bottom because I still like Kiki as a character. I can't really say that about #10 in this category.

Overall: 28 - Kiki never really had much of a chance. Sure, she had a great personality and is very cute, she essentially survives only in the middle of a 105-minute movie, and didn't quite capture my attention like some of the other characters. That's not to say Kiki's a failure in any means. Just being in this list is more than many others can claim, but there are nine others that ranks higher. Who will they be?

Who is She?
Somewhere in the middle of Azumangaland, there is a group of six friends that spends high school together in Miss Yukari's homeroom class: Chiyo Mihama, the 12-year-old prodigy with the intellect of a college student but the naivete of a 12-year-old...Ayumu Kasuga, the slow-minded transfer student from Osaka that is always trying to get it together...Sakaki-san, the lover of all things kawaii yet is cursed with physically mature body...Kagura, the athletic tomboy and self-proclaimed rival of Sakaki (who really couldn't care less)...Koyomi Mizuhara, the normal girl whose only goal is to get out of high school...and Tomo Takino. Tomo is the wild one in the bunch. She calls herself the Bousou Joushikousei, or the "Wildcat High School Girl," and it definitely fits her personality. She possesses an endless stream of energy, which probably helps her get through the school day, but it doesn't give her any athletic advantages. Even though Tomo fulfills the basic criteria for ADHD, plus the positive illusory bias that folks with ADHD often exhibit, she can still focus her energies when she wants to accomplish something. It helped her get into the high school (which is no easy task), and it may help her fulfill her dream of becoming a police officer with ICPO. The problem is, most of the time she just isn't motivated. It explains why she is the central member of the Bonkuras... or the Boneheads. (Interesting enough, her name Tomo means "wisdom." So much for having a name that fits.) And even though she is often torments Yomi, Ayumu, and Chiyo, and has a running rivalry with Kagura, she still cares dearly about her friends. Her mere presence injects life into the series.

Tomo's Influence

So the first question is...why Tomo? First of all, this is not the same case as Sister Princess or Tales of Symphonia, where my interest in the source developed after the heart-melting experience. It's more like Pokemon, where the heart-melting experience developed after initial exposure to the source. Next, Azumanga Daioh is 90% female, so the Heart-Melter could have been anybody from Ayumu (the popular choice) to Nyamo to Kagura. So why Tomo? She's wild. She's crazy. She's impulsive. She's a baka. She's even shorter than Kattixie. She's vain to the point where it becomes almost delusional. She is never seen dressed up outside of school. Her method of showing affection would drive most people up the wall, (so I'd feel sorry for whoever would become her boyfriend in college). Her interests and personality are completely different from mine? So why would I not mind being that unfortunate boyfriend? The reason that stands out is because unlike me, Tomo Takino is a free spirit. Whereas I continue to carry unnecessary burdens, she seemed to have dropped them all and is living life to the fullest. Sometimes when I am caught up in lethargy and hours of doing nothing, I think about how nice it would be to break out of the shackles and enjoy life as Tomo does. Or maybe it's because it's just that I find Tomo heart-meltingly cute.

Anyways, I had first read the Azumanga Daioh manga around the time when I wrote the original Heart-Melters Gallery thread. I enjoyed the series, and avoided the anime because I kind of knew that I would be hooked if I ever saw it. I went a year and a half to two years without seeing the anime. All that changed in early November 2006, when my sister was able to borrow a copy of Disc 1 from a friend. I had resisted watching it because I had a biochemistry test to study for, but when she insisted, I couldn't resist. I ended up getting hooked. It was so much that I walked to Best Buy to purchase the boxset while waiting for the Wii on November 18. And so even though I had gotten a Wii, I spent more of Thanksgiving break 2006 watching Azumanga Daioh than playing the Wii. My urge was not "Gotta play Zelda," but "Gotta watch Azumanga." I had Azumanga Daioh running on my computer, even while playing Twilight Princess. So what does all this have to do with Tomo? Well, throughout the entire week, I noticed that Tomo seemed to stand out. Despite all of her faults, I found her strangely endearing. The more I had watched the series, the more I felt attracted to her various quirks. In the end, she joined the ranks as a Heart-Melter.

The Age of Tomo (November 20, 2006 - Early 2007)

If we go by the manga, Tomo would have graduated sometime in spring of 2002, which means she would have been born in 1983 or 1984. Of course, if we go by the anime, the class had gone to Okinawa for their senior trip in 2002, which means her graduation would have come in spring of 2003, so she would have been born in 1984 or 1985. This would mean she is between the ages of 25-27 by now. Of course, we have no documentation of her life after high school (except that she is possibly going to the same college as Ayumu Kasuga...roommates, maybe?), so it really doesn't matter in the end.
The Age of Tomo burned bright for a while in the latter half of 2006 and early in 2007. For about two months, the only thing I can think was about Tomo and other Azumanga Daioh-related media. I was re-watching Azumanga Daioh episodes, listening to Azumanga Daioh songs, reading Azumanga Daioh fanfics, and enjoying Azumanga Daioh AMVs. Yet things weren't as bright as it would seem. In the 10K run for the second sports fest, Tomo had zoomed out of the starting line, yet by the end she barely finished ahead of Chiyo and Ayumu, her energy obviously sapped. A similar analogy can be seen in stars. The massive stars shine brightly, yet die off quickly. The red dwarfs don't shine quite as brightly, but they are able to remain present for literally trillions of years. Could the Age of Tomo have been like the luminous, massive stars? Unfortunately for Tomo, all signs pointed to yes. I felt my affections for Tomo dying down even as early as January 1, 2007. Focusing on trying to play through Twilight Princess didn't help, as it took my attention away from Azumanga. The more damaging thing is my slow realization that Tomo is nothing more than a hyperactive and sadistic creep once the honeymoon period wore off, especially after Tomo became a vindictive, unforgiving wildcat in stories I did with my sisters. My attraction towards Tomo fell off the cliff, and didn’t return even after I got back into Azumanga Daioh that summer. Tomo’s status as a Heart-Melter ended almost as abruptly as it started, but it was still a fun ride.

Strength: 7 - Tomo was an interesting personality, and I was definitely attracted to her past minimum point of becoming Heart-Melter, but it never really went beyond that. She never truly dominated my thoughts, as she ultimately shared the spotlight with her Azumanga co-stars, and I never stayed up late at nights thinking about her. She was just somebody that melted my heart.

Duration: 8 - It's hard to judge the duration of most Heart-Melters, since their end dates are usually so undefined. However, most of them generally stay Heart-Melters for three months. Tomo was Heart-Melter for two to three months. It's longer than Kiki and the person in the 10th spot, but still short compared to everybody else.

Recurrence: 10 - Tomo is an interesting case where I do fall back in love with her source (in this case Azumanga Daioh), but I don't necessarily do the same for the Heart-Melter. Thanks to Thingys, the stories I do with my sisters that include characters from Azumanga Daioh, I can no longer stand Tomo. You may even say that I've developed a dislike for her. That may not be entirely fair, but it goes like it goes.

Overall: 25 - One thing about the Heart-Melters Gallery is that once you get in, you never leave. I mean, it's a Gallery. The fact that I don't really like Tomo anymore doesn't mean she loses her spot. The important thing is that once upon a time, I was really attracted to Tomo Takino. I can't say I understand why anymore, but it was fun while it lasted.


Who is She?
Mona is the super-attractive developer of bizarre games in the popular Wario Ware series. Besides being a developer, Mona also spends her time doing a variety of odd jobs. She played in a band, served as head cheerleader for the Diamond City Roughs, operated a pizza delivery chain and a gelato shop, and rode a motorcycle to escape from policemen with her monkey. She goes into each of her jobs with gusto and pizzazz, and has supreme confidence in her abilities. However, her preference for guys is just about as messed up as my preference for girls. It is no secret that she holds a mega-crush on Wario, virtually looking up to him like a god. Why anybody would have a crush on Wario is beyond me. He's ugly. He's selfish. He's arrogant. Waluigi is so much better than Wario in every way possible except for maybe brute strength. Mona is good-looking, and she has a charitable heart. She should seriously stop wasting her time with Wario and go for somebody a lot better, although the choices in Diamond City are a bit limited.

Mona's Influence
Mona is the one Heart-Melter that is different from most of the others. Her face is cute enough to melt anybody's heart, but she's the only one without a particular age dedicated to her. Rather than an extended age, my attractions to her were quick, ephemeral flashes. My earliest memories of Mona came during a Gamers Club meeting in early 2004, which was the first time I ever played Wario Ware: Micro Mini-Games. I immediately noticed that one of the developers was a lot better looking than the others. In her long but amusing introductory video, we see her tossing banana peels at police cars trying to stop her from getting to her destination. But I didn't who who this person was. I didn't pay attention to the names of any of the developers. Wario was the only person I knew in Wario Ware, because I knew him from his past appearances in Wario Land and Mario Party. And I never really did bother to read about Wario Ware in any of my Nintendo Power issues to find out. I suppose I could have done a Google search to find out who she was, but I was too lazy. I found myself chatting with Mac and Taylor on the Nintendo of America NSider chats instead of researching the identity of the mysterious but cute developer.

My path crossed with Mona a few weeks later, when Mega Party-Games was coming out in the States. I was browsing the NSider forums when NOA Greg posted a thread announcing the Mega Party-Games site. I had nothing better to do, so I went to check it out. Voila! That was when I found out the name of the mysterious developer: Mona. The first thing that popped into my head was the Mona Lisa, but the Wario Ware Mona is far more attractive than the Da Vinci one. I toyed around on the site to unlock the desktop wallpapers, and when I did, I saved the ones with Mona onto my hard drive. I guess this is hoarding of pictures one way in which Mona is similar with the previous Heart-Melters. However, unlike the other Heart-Melters, I did not go out and buy the game to get my Mona fix. This was about a year before I had come up with the concept of Heart-Melters, but had I did, Mona wouldn't have made the list. However, all that would change in a few weeks.

The Age of Mona (March 2004, January 2007)
The moment that solidified Mona's position as a Heart-Melter came sometime in early 2004, possibly in February. I no longer remember the exact date (which is a major shame), but I was at University of Virginia's Clemons library one night to see what was going on at the Nintendo HQ chat on NSider. Somebody on the chat mentioned the latest Wario Ware game, which would be released in America later in the year under the title Wario Ware: Twisted. I was curious to see what the mega-cute Mona would look like in this new Wario Ware game, so I headed to the Wario Ware: Twisted page on the NCL website. Mona was one of the first things I saw, and she blew me away. There she was: wearing a yellow shirt with a cute, blue skirt skating around on rollerblades. I was smitten by her attractiveness and left with my heart melted. The feelings faded later that night, and I ended up not getting Wario Ware: Twisted, but that particular event made such an impact on me that when I first wrote about the Heart-Melters Gallery in 2005, Mona made the list as one of the eight.

Even though I included Mona as one of the Heart-Melters, I still felt that she was a questionable one at best. I made implications within the original thread that I may kick somebody out of the Gallery whenever a new Heart-Melter came around. Mona is the obvious target as the first to go if it ever happened just because her hold on the spot was based primarily on the events of that one night. While I eventually changed my mind about excising existing members, Mona remained the weakest of the Heart-Melters for about two years. This too would change. Wario Ware: Smooth Moves was released for the Wii in January 2007, and it became the first Wario Ware game that my sister and I purchased. Although I hadn't been very impressed with the official art released on the NCL website, once I played the game it became clear that Mona would stay as a Heart-Melter. It was the first time I had a chance to play a Wario Ware game thoroughly, and Mona was without a doubt my favorite part of the game, even if her appearances were quite sparse. However, Wario Ware: Smooth Moves wasn't a very long game. My friends and I had unlocked practically everything within the space of a day. Once my sisters and I accomplished this feat on our game, we eventually stopped playing the game, and Mona's second age quickly drew to a close. This took approximately a week or two. It's still hard to define exactly what the Age of Mona was, but one thing is clear: Mona is a proud member of the Heart-Melters Gallery.

Strength: 9 - Mona initially earned the position as a Heart-Melter as the result of a relatively short-lived flash of feeling in one random winter day, so she probably would have ranked 10th between early 2004 and December 0f 2006. However, her second age as a Heart-Melter following the release of Wario Ware: Smooth Moves allowed her to push past Kiki to claim the #9 spot for strength.

Duration: 10 - Mona's first period as Heart-Melter in early 2004 was at most only a day long, although it probably didn't even last a day. Her second period in January 2007 was not much longer, coming to an end after only a week or two. Most Heart-Melters last for a couple of months, and even the Age of Kiki lasted approximately a month, so Mona drops into the cellar in this category.

Recurrence: 4 - While the Ages for most of the Heart-Melters last for a few months, but once the Ages come to a close, the attraction pretty much fades away for good. Mona is one exception in that she had an even stronger Age several years after the initial one. Even after this second Age came to a close, I continued to follow the releases of new Wario Ware games closely just to see what Mona would be doing in the newest entry. That pushes her near the top of the Recurrence list, although the top two spots are held by two of the strongest Heart-Melters, and for good reason.

Overall: 23 - If you're going to pick one Heart-Melter that's not like the others, Mona takes the cake in just about every way possible. She came out of nowhere to melt my heart for a day, and while the degree to which my heart was melted was relatively minimal at best, but that was enough to put her into the list that Lyn, Nami, Fuka, and Rukia couldn't crack. And then she melted my heart a second time after a long hibernation, an achievement only the top Heart-Melter can boast, and even though it wasn't enough to push her eighth, it completely changed my opinion on Mona as a Heart-Melter.

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
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 a Powerpuff 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, with 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
(May 2002-Late 2002) "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 provides an opportunity to explore whole new world with whole new storylines if it is done well. 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.
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.

Who is she?
Sheena Fujibayashi (known in Japan as Shihna or Shiina) is a character in Namco's epic RPG, Tales of Symphonia. She hails from the mysterious ninja village of Mizuho in Tethe'alla. As the adopted granddaughter of the chief Igaguri, she was trained from an early age to become a Summoner, but for her final exam she had to make a pact with Volt. The mission ended in a failure, and Volt killed off half of the village to punish their insolence, and her grandfather ended up in a coma. This spectacular failure had haunted her for the next several years until she befriended a Summon Spirit by the name of Corrine. With Corrine at her side, Sheena was slowly able to turn her life around. She was later hired by the king to murder Sylvarant's Chosen, Colette, to preserve Tethe'alla's prosperity. By then, Sheena had put the failure behind her and assumed a tough, no-nonsense personality, although there is still a tender side underneath. She had kept it up fairly well, but her insecurities began to resurface when she failed to accomplish her task. However, she joined forces with her former enemies and helped them achieve their goal of world regeneraton, making use of her perfected summoning skills. Sheena is also cursed by her attractive appearance. Most people tend to notice her body instead of her mind, especially the Chosen of Tethe'alla. Needless to say, the two don't get along too well. However, she does seem to have something for Lloyd, because he may be the first person outside of Mizuho to respect her as a human being.

Sheena's Influence

I must admit that I'm not much of an RPG fan. Sure, I like Pokemon Blue, but that was about it. I don't remember when I had first heard of Tales of Symphonia, but one thing I do remember is that I wasn't really interested in it. I didn't get the game when it was released in the summer of 2004. When other people in the #nintendo chat room were talking about the game, I ignored them and talked about other things. Even though I had no interest in the game, my sister was very interested. She constantly listed Tales of Symphonia as one game she wanted to try out, but she never wanted to spend $20 to get the game. However, one of our gamer friends at college agreed to lend us a copy of ToS in late June of 2006, and we finally had a chance to play.

While my sister enjoyed the game, my initial reactions were not so positive. The real-time multiplayer battle system allowed me to join my sisters while playing, but I just couldn't get into the game. Perhaps it was because I was playing as Colette, or maybe because I had no idea what was going on, but playing ToS just wasn't a very fun experience in the beginning. But the game started to grow on me the more I played it. Why? It wasn't because of the storyline, because I'm usually doing my own thing whenever a major cutscene happens. It wasn't because of the battles, because even though the battle system is nice, the repetitiveness of battles makes it monotonous. My change of heart most likely came about because of the characters. Tales games usually have pretty strong character development, and each of the Symphonia characters slowly began to appeal to me, even the annoying Zelos (whom my sister despises.) Sheena quickly became my favorite for a variety of reasons that I'll go into, and by the end of the summer, she joined the ranks as Heart-Melter.

The Age of Sheena (June 2006 - September 2006)
There are many reasons why I like Sheena. I liked using her in battle, especially her balance between A-attacks and techs such as "Demon Seal" and "Life Seal." I like her no-nonsense personality; how she is tough yet tender. I like her looks, even if her hairstyle makes her look as though she just rolled out of bed in the Z-cutscenes. I like her costumes, including how her bow floats due to Bernoulli's Principle as she runs along the world map. (I was a bit disappointed with her formal dress. I was hoping it would be more of an actual dress, but oh well.) I even like the voice acting by Jennifer Hale, even though I'm not normally a very fan of dubs. Sheena is clearly one of the biggest reasons why I quickly grew to enjoy ToS.

Unfortunately, this Age of Sheena couldn't have come at a worse time. Summer 2006 was supposed to be the when I dedicated all of my time and energy into studying for the MCAT. (That turned out to be summer 2008.) I was fairly diligent early on, but once I finished reviewing all the basic information, the only thing I could do was practice problems and more reviewing. I was a bit too lazy to do all of that and so I spent most of the summer pretending to do practice problems in the morning, so I can play as Sheena at night. In the end my scores on practice tests dropped precariously until my real score was pretty terrible. And the worst thing is that I felt as though it was well worth it.

Perhaps I spent so much time playing Tales of Symphonia because I didn't think I had much of a chance to play it much anymore. My sister and I were were back at college once the MCATs were over. We had our own copy of the game, but no system to play it on. My sister decided not to bring the Gamecube since we have another sister that may have wanted to play it. And yet even this predicament was only temporary. Two months into the school year, the friend who lent us ToS in the first place let us borrow her Gamecube. Nevertheless, two months is an extremely long time to go without doing anything to prolong a Heart-Melter Age. I was able to extend the Ages of most Heart-Melters through the large volume of pictures that I was able to save, but most Sheena pictures I could find are official art. And to be frank, I'm not a fan of the official art. (I prefer the in-game character models.) We eventually got the chance to play Tales of Symphonia to our hearts content in a few more playthroughs of the US GCN version plus the Japanese GCN and PS2 versions, but by then Sheena had lost the Heart-Melter status. She still made 2006 a summer to remember, and for that she is a treasured member of the Heart-Melters Gallery

Rankings Strength: 6 - I never regarded Sheena as a very strong Heart-Melter, since there's a massive drop-off in this category from #5, but it was a stronger Age than I remembered. I willingly played hours of Tales of Symphonia when I should have been studying for the MCAT, and continued to do so even well into 2009. And it was all for seeing Sheena. Even if she never quite reached the level of obsession, she held a special part of my life for a period of time.

Duration: 7 - Sheena's prime period as a Heart-Melter started in late June and faded pretty quickly after going back to college, meaning it lasted pretty much only a summer, or in other words, just about two to three months. That's about the same length as Tomo, but Sheena has the advantage for one crucial reason, which follows.

Recurrence: 3 - Sheena may have never regained her status in the two and a half years following her period as a Heart-Melter, but I have certainly not lost any of my admiration towards her. I have continued to enjoy Tales of Symphonia just so I can play as Sheena, first in a second and third playthrough of the US version, and then in the Japanese Gamecube version and finally in the PS2 version.

Overall: 16 - As I mentioned earlier, I never really took much notice of Sheena's Heart-Melter status when it was going on. The age fizzled up shortly after reaching college, and it was blocked by my later Azumanga obsession. But Sheena helped to turn a game that I can't say I really enjoyed into a major part of my gaming life. Seriously, I've never had as much discussion with my sisters regarding any other game than Tales of Symphonia. And it's all thanks to Sheena. Thank you, Sheena. We have to do something special for you. (Okay, I'm clearly quoting Super Mario 64 by now.) Putting her at the sixth rank is pretty darned special.

Who is she?
Although the genre is virtually non-existent in America, the dating sim is one of the most popular genres in Asia. Apparently there are a heck of a lot of desperate men willing to spend money to buy games dedicated to cute, anime-style girls. The dating sims range from mild, G-rated fantasies to sexually explicit packages designed to supply the real deal. Sister Princess is a dating sim that would be on the innocent side of the smut spectrum ...IF it was not filled with incestuous innuendo. The general plot is that there are 12 sisters madly in love with their brother. It's not just the love one would naturally have for their family member. No. It's more than that. They WANT TO MARRY THEIR BROTHER! I've heard of brotherly love, but this is ridiculous! Kaho-chan is one of these 12 sisters, and she may be the second youngest. She's a lovable soul with a bubbly personality and a never-say-die approach to life. She's extremely clumsy and has nary a sense of balance. She trips on almost everything, but usually just laughs it off with one of her heart-melting giggles. She's just so innocently adorable. Oh yeah. Kaho is a cheerleader. Not a very good one, but cute.

Kaho's Influence
The story of Kaho's path to the Heart-Melters Gallery begins not long after Katsucon 10 in 2004. During that time, I was driven to compile a list of the 100 cutest anime girls in Word document known as Useless.doc. I'd go around to websites looking up different anime and judging the girls I see in cuteness before ranking them in my list. I should have known that this list would turn out to be useless, since this list is just like any other list I tried compiling: I lost interest before I completed it. I managed to include 111 girls, although looking back, I can think of loads of changes I'd make. Maybe Misao shouldn't rank so high (6th.) Perhaps Faye Valentine is a bit too low (somewhere after 50.) However, what really killed the list was a particular anime known as Sister Princess. All 12 of the other sisters were amazingly cute. By the time I finished including all of the sisters, 10 of the 12 were on the list. Topping the list was a sister named Kaho. Yet I didn't feel it was right. I didn't even know Sister Princess existed only 30 minutes earlier, and now here comes all of the cute girls and they dominate (screw up) my list. It wasn't even a good anime. Most reviewers found it to be abysmal at best. And worst of all, the two people I found the cutest were the two youngest! (Their innocence really got to me.) I abandoned the project shortly afterwards

Fast forward to Katsucon 11 in 2005. It had been over a year since the anime convention that drove me to begin the useless list. Two things caught my eye while perusing the program: One is that they're showing The Cat Returns on Saturday at 6. (Disney refused to let them show it subbed). The other is that Sister Princess is being shown on Sunday at 12. I remembered Sister Princess as the anime full of cute girls that had disrupted my list. Yet I became rather intrigued. Was the show really as bad as people said, and are the girls really as cute as the pictures had suggested? On Sunday, I didn't make it into the video room until past halfway through the first episode because I was busy playing Mario Kart: Double Dash. The first girl I saw led me to think, "Man, that person is cute. I wonder where she had ranked on my list." Little did I know that she was Kaho, the apex of all Sister Princess sisters in cuteness! By the time my mind had clicked, I was already quite attracted to the adorable cheerleader wannabe in a green sweater and pleated skirt. (And in case you were wondering, the show is as bad as the review sites suggested. It was virtually incomprehensible. But the girls are cute all right...real cute!)

The Age of Kaho (February 20, 2005-May 2005)
Kaho-chan may be one of the youngest sisters, but even then she may actually be 11 - about the same age as the tomboyish Mamoru. After I had gone back to my dorm following Katsucon 11, I began to think about Sister Princess, but especially about Kaho. I knew that my feelings were analogous to the ones towards Misty in 1999, Seung Mina in 2001, Shiori Fujisaki in 2002, and Elizabeth Patterson in 2004. I soon came up with eight females that I felt this sort of attraction to, and came up with a classification for them: the Heart-Melters. (This was when I wrote the original Heart-Melters Gallery thread during the weekend of February 26, 2005 - less than a week after seeing Kaho at Katsucon.) Over the next few days, I began searching for Kaho pics on Google. Some of the ones I found were pretty blurry, but a lot of them were bloody cute, all of which justified her place as a Heart-Melter. Oh, all of her sisters are cute, but Kaho, with her lovely smile and charming personality is definitely at the head of the pack. Previously, when I was saving pictures of Heart-Melters, I saved numerous pictures of other characters, but in this case I was saving pictures of only Kaho. If that wasn't enough, I even got downgraded to a 56K connection by ITC while downloading episodes of the Sister Princess sequel Sister Princess RePure just to see Kaho. It was a worthy sacrifice...3/6 episodes were related to Kaho. (Kaho is apparently one of the most popular characters even in Japan.)

Yet after watching all episodes of Sister Princess and every episode of Sister Princess Repure, I realized that there was nothing more to go for. The series weren't good enough to warrant a re-viewing, and none of the Sister Princess games were available in America. I was under pressure from more than one person to get over her, and I willingly relented. Even before summer vacation began in mid-May, I was saving pictures of her sister Yotsuba (not the cute but not heart-melting titular character of the Kiyohiko Azuma classic Yotsuba&!). I slowly stopped thinking about Kaho and began turning my mind elsewhere. By June, all of my previous admiration had faded away, and all that was left was a shell of a memory. I never did revive any attraction towards Kaho, but I kept all of the pictures as a sort of a memento to the short-lived bygone days. It's a reminder of the fact that even of people lose their status as Heart-Melters, they will always be in the Heart-Melters Gallery.

Strength: 3 - I don't often get so caught up in a Heart-Melter that I'd save their pictures incessantly, but Kaho is one exception. Not only did she dominate my thoughts for a period of time, but I also wasted a lot of bandwidth space on pictures of Kaho and only Kaho.

Duration: 6 - As I had discussed in the Tomo entry, the brightest stars usually die off the quickest. I've realized it doesn't really apply towards the Heart-Melters, because the correlation betwsen the Strength and Time rankings have been generally positive, but at just above three months, Kaho's time as a Heart-Melter had been relatively short.

Recurrence: 7 - Not only was Kaho's burn-out relatively swift, but it was also pretty complete. It seems that most Heart-Melters have a general "honeymoon" period that lasts two to three months, and if they want to continue as a Heart-Melter, they'd better offer something extra either in the form of a dazzling personality or a good source material. Kaho had neither. She was kind of shallow and Sister Princess sucked. So once Kaho's Heart-Melter status died off, I never had the urge to watch the show to revive the attraction. She's still my favorite sister, which beats some other Heart-Melters (like Tomo).

Overall: 16 - Because of Kaho's low recurrence score, she ended up with the same overall score as Sheena. This was quite surprising. I was far more obsessed with Kaho than Sheena, so I kind of expected it to be a lot higher than Sheena. (It shows you the flaws of compiling the overall score with a qualitative numeral figure like rank.) Either way, thanks to the Strength tie-breaker, Kaho still finishes within the top half of the Heart-Melters Gallery!

Who is she?
Remember the dating sim, the genre popular in Asia that allows men to satisfy some of their fantasies; a genre that included Sister Princess? One of the most popular dating sims is known as Tokimeki Memorial. Tokimeki Memorial has now become a series due to its popularity, but the original Tokimeki Memorial had been a PC/PlayStation/Saturn game in the mid-1990s. The game tells the story of a guy that transferred to a high school in which his childhood sweetheart also attends. That childhood sweetheart is none other than Shiori Fujisaki. The epitome of brains and beauty, Shiori Fujisaki is a painfully attractive straight-A student, and the most popular girl in school. She's got everybody going after her, except you have the advantage because your history with her, but it's going to be a challenge if you want to take the relationship to the next level. You're better off trying to woo the other girls.

Shiori's Influence

I've known about Tokimeki Memorial since well before April of 2002, although source amnesia has erased all memories of what it could possibly be. I didn't know much about it, but I would soon find out more than I'd ever need to know. By April of 2002, the two earlier Heart-Melter Ages had come to a close, and I was back to dedicating my love life to a specter. I was trying to revive one of the Ages when I came across Tokimeki Memorial. Basically, I was searching online for pics and came across a German site known as GameBabes. The pics they had of the former Heart-Melter weren't anything I hadn't seen before, but I was intrigued by the site, so I explored some of the other games they had. I noticed the title "Tokimeki Memorial," and because I've heard of it from somewhere, I decided to click the link. That would be something that changed my life...for the next few months at least. I was introduced to some amazingly cute anime-style girls. I sat there admiring a few of the minor characters, but the ultimate treat came when I clicked on one of the four pages dedicated to Shiori Fujisaki. To be completely honest, Shiori Fujisaki did not initially stand out from a lot of the other Tokimeki Memorial girls. There were other cute girls vying for my attention...namely Yumi Saotome, Saki Nijino, and Ayako Katagiri. Yet in the end, Shiori's resemblance to the girl I thought I was in love with at the time finally won me over, and she became the crowning girl in Tokimeki Memorial.

The Age of Shiori Fujisaki (April 2002-Fall 2002)
I suppose a more appropriate title for this would actually be "The Age of Tokimeki Memorial." Shiori Fujisaki may have been the central character among my interests, but she was not the only one. I did not dedicate all of my attention to a single girl. I had admired many of Shiori's friends as well. So when I went around saving pictures of the girls to satisfy my adolescent obsessions, I went across the scale and saved basically every Tokimeki Memorial pics that struck my fancy instead of pictures of only Shiori Fujisaki. Tokimeki Memorial was a dating sim, and since dating sims were built around images, it wasn't difficult for me to find a lot of great pictures. Within a month, I had saved almost 600 pics of the girls in Tokimeki Memorial. All this picture-saving probably is a little bit odd...but I've always been about seeing more of an individual I found attractive, even when the person was real. (Oh dear) With people like Buttercup and Tomo, I satisfied my desires just by watching the shows over and over again, but Tokimeki Memorial is a game I probably couldn't understand even if I was able to import it, so the only thing I can do is to save pictures.

Anyways, in late spring of 2002, I was as you can say...obsessed with Tokimeki Memorial. Shiori and her friends soon invaded my life in various ways. I selected a couple of extremely cute pics and compiled them into a collage, which I printed out and laminated to be able to look at Shiori and friends all day during class. I named my C++ variables in Computer Science class after various Tokimeki Memorial characters. It was truly something that dominated my thoughts, this particular Age was somewhat short-lived compared to the Heart-Melter Ages that came earlier. One thing that really crippled my admiration of Shiori Fujisaki and friends (and potentially kept it from becoming a crush) is the Age of Buttercup (or my obsession with the Powerpuff Girls). With two concurrent ages, the one that would come out on top is the one I have more access too. So even though Tokimeki Memorial dominated my thoughts more, the only connection I had towards it was the 600 or so pictures I had saved, and it slowly fell to the wayside.

I went to Taiwan during the summer of 2002, and I found a Chinese copy of Tokimeki Memorial at a bookstore when I was there. There was no mistaking Shiori Fujisaki or Miharu Tatebayashi, both of whom appeared on the box. Better yet, the game had Chinese text, so I'd actually be able to understand it! I eagerly convinced my mom to buy it for me. I played it as soon as I could when I got back the United States...but as you might expect, the game wasn't exactly what I had expected. First of all, it was a really old copy of the game, so I was only able to install it on only one of my computers. And more importantly, the game itself was disappointing. It was perhaps 50 times shorter than the Japanese versions I had heard so much about. The game ends when you go on four dates. How can you win the love of anybody with only four dates? And worst of all, the character you play as is a pervert! I mean, in one scene, he manages to secure a date with the attractive Saki Nijino, but as soon as he saw somebody with a revealing's nosebleed time! When you're on a date with somebody as attractive as Shiori or Saki, you'd best be focusing your attention on that person. The game sealed the coffin for the Age of Shiori Fujisaki. I went and deleted almost all of my pics, keeping only about 50 to remind myself of the weird and wonderful season, but all that's left for Shiori is a permanent spot within the Heart-Melters Gallery.


Strength: 4 - Shiori ranks high in this category since I was so obsessed with Tokimeki Memorial. In fact, I originally had her at the #3 spot ahead of Kaho, since my attraction towards Tokimeki Memorial was a lot stronger than my attraction towards Sister Princess. But then there's the question of force and pressure (force / area.) I was less obsessed with Sister Princess, but most of it was focused on one person: Kaho. I was more obsessed with Tokimeki Memorial, but my attention was spread out among many. So in the end I decided that my attraction towards Kaho was stronger than my attraction towards Shiori. After all, my sister told me that she thought I liked Yumi Saotome more. She never did that with Kaho. Still, a #4 rank is nothing to scoff at.

Duration: 5 - The incident with the game that ended the Age came in August of 2002, just short of four months after the Age first began. At the time I thought it was quite short, but now that I look at it, three and a half months is longer than more than half of the other Heart-Melter Ages.

Recurrence: 6 - Shiori remains my favorite girl in Tokimeki Memorial, and if I ever get a real version of the game I'd definitely go for her. However, my attraction towards the series is pretty dead. I have less than 10% of the pictures I originally had, and I rarely ever look at them. The chance of a recurrence is there, but it hasn't happened yet.

Overall: 15 - Shiori's stock has gone down since I started revisiting the Heart-Melters. In the past she used to be closer to the #3 spot, while now she's barely ahead of Kaho, the #5 spot. In fact, if I count the Strength category twice, which I've thought about doing at times, she'd be tied with Kaho. Nevertheless, Shiori is definitely one of the Heart-Melter Elites, and I think her #4 ranking can attest to that.

Who is she?
Soul Calibur is perhaps one of the more historically inaccurate game set in a historical time period, but that's probably because Namco only came up with the individual storylines as a secondary thing to complement its deep fighting gameplay. Seung Mina (now known as Seong Mi-na) was one of the characters that came over from the prequel, Soul Blade. She was the 19-year-old daughter of Seung Han Myong, one of the greatest teachers of martial arts in Korea. Under her father's guidance, Seung Mina becomes well-trained in martial arts. With her Zamba-toh in hand, Seung Mina left to track down the Soul Edge, which she believes just may save Korea. Yet instead of finding the Soul Edge, her suitor Hwang Seung Gyung found her instead and brought her back home. When Seung Mina runs away again, she fights a mysterious enemy (then-Soul series newbie Ivy) and loses badly. Ashamed, she ends up training under a new master and learns a new set of fighting moves (similar to Kilik, another person in the Soul realm). After many years of fighting and other events in Soul Calibur sequels I rarely played, she came to realize that the Soul Edge was an evil sword, and played the role Hwang once played with another, newer character.

Seung Mina's Influence
My love life was in a bit of a turmoil between February 2000 and July 2001. During those 17 months, I was largely obsessing over a memory while getting somewhat attracted to most of my real-life classmates and then doing nothing about itart-Melt. Perhaps it was a period of tremendous opportunity, but I saw it as a rather lackluster period. (The 22 months between the beginning of the Heer Era and the beginning of the Age of Seung Mina is the second longest period between new Heart-Melters. Interestingly enough, the longest period is the 57 months between the beginning of the Age of Tomo and now.) Anyways, the latent period soon came to an end thanks to my sister.

My sister had always been a fan of fighting games. She purchased a Dreamcast in early 2001 (for The Typing of the Dead), but quickly realized she'd be able to enjoy games like Shenmue and Soul Calibur, one of the most critically acclaimed games of all time. She received the game as a birthday present in July of 2001. I feel that Soul Calibur is starting to gain a reputation of having sexy, busty female characters to go along with its deep fighting system, but all I knew about the game back then was that it received perfect scores from virtually every publication one can imagine: IGN, Gamespot, Famitsu, EGM etc. Of course, I learned really early on that it had cute females. I took a liking to Xianghua (as opposed to fan favorites Taki and Ivy), even if she didn't look like somebody from Ming China. However, I remembered that the IGN reviewer of Soul Calibur had praised Seung Mina countless times in his review. I was curious as to what was so great about her, but I hadn't started using Google Images, so I did not find out what Seung Mina looked like until I had unlocked her. When I did, I was instantly blown away by her gentle features and silky smile. I hadn't come up with the concept of Heart-Melters in 2001, but I knew at the time Seung Mina was something special.

The Age of Seung Mina (July 2001 - Winter 2001)
Once I unlocked Seung Mina, she became the only thing that I really cared for in Soul Calibur. Sure, Seung Mina never really took over my thoughts like some of the other Heart-Melters had, but for a lonely and desperate 16-year-old that was more attracted to fictional characters than real ones, Seung Mina was as good as it gets. Seung Mina may be a lower ranked character in the Soul Calibur hiearchy, but I liked playing as her nonetheless. I did so originally because she was so cute, and I liked playing just to see her, but the more I played, the better I became at using her. I achieved my fastest Arcade time using Seung Mina (I remember it was below 3:30) and I used her on the difficult challenges in Mission Mode. I even unlocked everything in the Art Gallery just for pictures of Seung Mina. Unfortunately, there weren't too many of those. (Heck, the Soul Calibur Wiki has a Seung Mina picture from Soul Calibur that I've never seen previously. It's probably from an artbook, which are virtually impossible to get in the US.)

But in the end, Seung Mina was not strong enough to overcome the natural force of change. While I ended up playing Soul Calibur more often than my sister (she didn't have anything to draw her back to the game like I did), it still didn't erase the fact that I was not really a fan of fighters, especially ones that relied on life bars of certain sort. The release of the Gamecube in December of 2001 led to the phasing out of the Dreamcast, and I eventually found myself playing Super Smash Bros. Melee, a fighting game that fit in more my style. My attraction to Seung Mina was largely tied to the game, and so this attraction eventually faded by the winter of 2001-2002.

However, while Seung Mina may no longer be at Heart-Melter status, her role as the second Heart-Melter chronologically still makes her quite significant. While I rarely think about the other Heart-Melters after my attraction towards them faded, I still go back to Seung Mina quite often. I still check out pictures of Seung Mina whenever a new Soul Calibur game is released, but I usually end up getting disappointed. Her concept art portraits have been very cute, but her in-game renders usually leave more to be desired. Ironically, it was it was her in-game beauty that really endeared me to her in the first Soul Calibur game. Needless to say, I didn't play much Soul Calibur II and was never really interested in III and IV. And since it was the first Soul Calibur game that made Seung Mina a Heart-Melter, I'll continue to spell her name the way it was spelled in the first game rather than use the updated spelling in III and IV. It reminds me of that magical summer when Seung Mina became an important part of my life.

Rankings Strength: 5 - Seung Mina may have been the person that jolted me out of a period of attraction towards real females (and started a string of seven Heart-Melters in three short years), but now that I think of it, I didn't really fawn over her as I did over Kaho and Shiori. Sure, I played Soul Calibur a lot more than I would have if I wasn't attracted to Seung Mina, but I didn't obsessively hoard pictures of her or dream about her at nights.

Duration: 4 - The Age of Seung Mina lasted from late July 2001, when I first unlocked her, to around December of 2001, a period of between four and five months. That may not be a very long time, especially now that I'm 24 years old, but the median length of Heart-Melters Ages is three and a half to four months. It sure feels a lot longer in the middle of an Age.

Recurrence: 2 - This is where Seung Mina shines as a Heart-Melter. She may not have had the strongest Age, but I can't quite forget her. I was still eager for new pictures of her even years after she lot the status as a Heart-Melter. In fact, I first found Shiori Fujisaki when I was trying to look for pictures of Seung Mina in April of 2002, a full four months after the end of the Age. I've had somebody comment that my #1 Heart-Melter would become upset by my "two-timing" after posting a picture of Seung Mina on the UVA Gamers message board. This was June of 2008, six and a half years after the end of the Age. She may not have had a second Age like Mona, but Seung Mina's persistence after all these years is enough for earn her the #2 spot.

Overall: 11 - Seung Mina's rankings within the Heart-Melters Gallery has shifted over the year. My initial ranking back in 2005 was chronologically, and Seung Mina ended up in the #2 spot. My next attempt to rank them came in 2006, and that was by strength alone. Seung Mina fell to #3, ahead of even Shiori and Kaho. When I ranked by three qualifications last year, I kept Seung Mina at #3, but I also realized that what made her such a high-ranking Heart-Melter wasn't because my attraction towards her was terribly strong, but incredibly enduring.

Who is she?
Elizabeth Patterson is the middle child of John and Elly Patterson, and therefore one of the main characters in the epic comic strip For Better or for Worse. She was born in June of 1981, a full five years younger than her elder brother Michael. While Elizabeth was generally a nice girl, the age difference between her and her brother led to some major growing pains. She is extremely sensitive, somewhat insecure, and had a major inferiority complex. She sucked her thumb until she turned nine years old, and got glasses at the age of eight, which she took very hard. She had trouble finding new friends, and was jealous whenever she felt like she was being ignored. As a result she often felt extremely lonely. Elizabeth was not a very good student in school. She never got in trouble, but she had some trouble following instructions and hated studying. However, her seventh grade teacher, Miss Sharon Edwards, took the young Elizabeth under her wing and helped her overcome these insecurities. This special bond gave Elizabeth a new sense of direction, and strongly influenced her decision to get into teaching. After graduating from Nipissing University, Elizabeth taught for a while in the town of Mtigwaki in Northern Canada before settling back home in Ontario. Yet her love life was not quite as successful as her career. After a long high school romance with Anthony Caine, she had a series of unsuccessful relationships before going in a full circle and married Anthony to become Elizabeth Caine.

Elizabeth Patterson's Influence
If Elizabeth's love life was rocky, mine was virtually non-existent between my late high school and early college years. There were no classmates that really struck my fancy between the end of 2002 and the middle of 2004, and there were only two Heart-Melters during that time period, Kiki and Mona - the two lowest ranking Heart-Melters in terms of strength. Oh, there was a slight revival of an earlier age, but that's a story for another time. At any rate, I spent most of this time period preparing to bid farewell to high school, adjusting to life at college, and updating the list of the 100 best Nintendo 64 games. There was no need for a romantic interest. Elizabeth Patterson would change all of that.

My first year at UVA eventually ended, and the summer of 2004 rolled around. My cousin was getting married in Michigan on July 4 that year, and my family and I were taking a trip up north to celebrate it. The drive to Michigan takes about 10-12 hours, and to pass the time I brought along a lot of Garfield books. And once we got to Michigan we began devouring Calvin and Hobbes. When my aunt saw us reading so many comics, she let us read her collection of her favorite comic: For Better or for Worse. I had read For Better or for Worse in the newspapers previously, but I really can't say that I was a fan. Nevertheless, when we went to Cedar Point the day after the wedding, we brought along three of the For Better or for Worse books: Starting from Scratch, Love just Screws Everything Up, and Growing Like a Weed. I read the books on the trip there, and as we entered Ohio, I found myself getting attracted to Elizabeth. For Better or for Worse is well known for the realism of its characters due to the real-time aging aspect, and I was getting drawn into the complexity of her character. Plus, she was very pretty. It had been a while since I felt that type of an attraction towards somebody, but the presence was unmistakable.

The Age of Elizabeth Patterson (July 5, 2004 - January 2005)
It is said that For Better or for Worse is the comic that everybody loves; they either love it, or they love to hate it. Thanks to Elizabeth Patterson, I was a part of the former group. I always had a For Better or for Worse book with me during the rest of my time at Cedar Point and during the trip to northern Michigan, and she never left my thoughts. The attraction became so strong that I was starting to feel the burning sensation that I had felt before my three previous crushes, although it passed by quickly and I didn't make much of it. My aunt saw how much I was into For Better or for Worse, and she let us borrow all of her For Better or for Worse books once we left Michigan. This allowed the Age to extend far beyond the summer. My mind couldn't leave Elizabeth back at home. I wrote about her on the NSider message boards, and I even began to title each of my posts on the board "Postcount + 1! This Post is Dedicated to the Lovely Elizabeth Patterson." I purchased a mousepad and a T-shirt from the For Better or for Worse online store. (I was wearing the shirt during a post-Gamers dinner when J Ford talked about his hatred of the strip. Apparently he's part of the latter group.) Late in the summer, I decided flipping through the books was a bit of a bother, so I decided to scan my aunt's books just so I can have some of the better Elizabeth comics at easy access. I eventually went out of control and just scanned any For Better or for Worse comic I thought was good and ended up with 543 files that took up 35.4 MB of hard drive space. The habit of acquiring pics of Heart-Melters continues. I went back to college in August and acquired a marker board for my door in my dorm. The first thing I wrote on it was "Elizabeth Patterson," which confused everybody in my hall.

Yet all good things must come to an end. I found a project during the fall semester that diverted my attention from Elizabeth Patterson: The Top 100 Nintendo 64 Games threads. I had been keeping tabs on a top 100 Nintendo 64 Games list since the spring of 2003, and that fall I concentrated all of my attention on writing about each of the games. I researched games. I scanned boxes. I captured game footage, and I transferred them to pictures. When I finished the list after a series of all-nighters in January of 2005, the Age of Elizabeth Patterson had dissipated. The list is certainly one of the causes of the end of the attraction, although it is far from being the sole cause. Lynn Johnston's character design had changed dramatically over the years. By late 2004, she was doing things like emphasizing the lips of her characters, and I can't say I was a big fan of these changes. Furthermore, the Patterson family was all over the place by 2004. The story would spend a week or so with one character before hurrying off to another. The storyline felt incomplete as a result, and the characters lost much of their depth, including Elizabeth. I continued to read the strip loyally until the end, but my feelings for Elizabeth was no longer there.

Strength: 2 - All of the Heart-Melters had dominated my thoughts to some degree, but only one of them had ended up being an actual crush. Elizabeth Patterson was close to being the second, and even though the crush never materialized, my feelings for her were extremely intense.

Duration: 2 - The attraction began in the summer of 2004 and lasted all the way into the winter of 2005. It's hard to find six months to be very impressive considering the length of the #1 Heart-Melter is about ten times that amount, but it's important to consider the fact that the original period of attraction for the #1 Heart-Melter only lasted for about that long.

Recurrence: 5 - This was where Elizabeth Patterson falters. My attention towards her went on the backburners when I began to focus on writing about the top 100 Nintendo 64 games, and as a result my attraction towards her became secondary as well. By January it was completely snuffed out, and I never looked back. Nevertheless, she still ranks ahead of some other powerhouses like Shiori Fujisaki and Kaho because even though all three of them remained my favorite characters in their respective source materials, I still read For Better or for Worse quite regularly.

Overall: 9 - Even though I don't have a lot of feelings for Elizabeth now, it's hard to ignore how much a force she was back in the day. Not only were my attractions towards her extremely strong, but it endured for an extraordinarily long period of time. This rare combination is enough to overcome a relatively low recurrence score, but to be honest the recurrence score isn't that bad. It's still in the top half.


Who is she?
I hate to say it, but the only way you may have to ask this question is if you haven't been paying attention to anything Nintendo has done in the past eleven years. (I'm not saying it's not possible because I know there are a lot of people who are oblivious to what Nintendo has been doing and would understandably not know who Misty is, but if you are one of those people I highly doubt you'd be reading this.) Pokemon has become one of Nintendo's biggest franchises since its American debut in 1998, and Misty is an important part of the franchise. Even Pokemon haters are probably aware of Pokemon's loveliest heroine.

Known as Kasumi in Japan, Misty made her debut as the gym leader of Cerulean City (the second gym) in Pokemon Red/Green in 1995. She specialized in water Pokemon and was known as the Tomboyish Mermaid, implying that behind her bikini-wearing outer shell lies a strong and confident personality. Unfortunately, players never got to see this personality, because once they beat Misty to get the Cascade Badge (Blue Badge in creative) and TM 11, there was no reason to interact with her anymore. All that was about to change.

The animated adaptation of Pokemon made its debut in Japan in April of 1997. The series follows Ash Ketchum in his adventures and misadventures around the world of Pokemon, but he is so bland that the show would grow old fast if it focused primarily on him, so the writers gave him a trio of companions. The first two made their debuts in the very first episode. One was Ash's ever-loyal Pikachu. And the other? It was none other than the most beautiful girl in all of Pokemon, nay, all of Nintendo-land: Misty. She fished Ash and his injured Pikachu out of the river late in the first episode (and slapped him for good measure because of his incompetence as a trainer). He stole her bike to get away from murderous Spearows only to destroy it, so she started following him to get a new bike. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I've always felt that Misty has the most complex personality among the main characters in Pokemon. Ash has always been the up-and-at-'em kind of guy with boundless optimism and limitless energy despite his questionable intelligence. Brock is intelligent and has a tragic backstory involving abandonment by both parents, but he ended up being like Jon Arbuckle but worse, because at least Jon has a steady girlfriend in Liz. And even though Misty started out being a whiny, impulsive brat who is quick to anger, it didn't take long for her personality to shine. Misty is the youngest of four sisters. Her older sisters were popular, good-looking, and good enough trainers to become the Cerulean City gym leader, so she developed an inferiority complex early in life. But rather than wallow in self-pity like some people may do (like me), Misty built up a tough exterior and strived to improve herself in every way. And she would eventually show a softer side beneath her initial roughness, displaying a caring heart towards people and Pokemon (especially her favorite Togepi), as well as being an effective counselor and a dispenser of wisdom. Although Misty still possessed an explosive temper (mostly towards Psyduck), her courage and coolness under pressure has saved the lives of her friends numerous times.

Eventually, all good things must come to an end. After seven years and over 200 episodes of traveling the world, Misty had to return to Cerulean City to take over the role of gym leader from her sisters, who were going on a world tour themselves. And while Brock eventually returned to Ash's side to continue making Jon Arbuckle look good, Misty remains in Cerulean City, taking care of the gym. While this is a fact that agonizes the thousands, maybe even millions of adolescent males that fell for her between 1997 and 2003, it is probably safe to assume that she is still working to find ways to improve herself. That is what makes Misty so special.

Misty's Influence
There is no doubt that Misty had a greater influence on my life than the other Heart-Melters, possibly combined. Not only was she the only Heart-Melter to surpass the minimum limit for me to define my attraction as an actual crush, but my attraction towards her remains strong even today, over ten years after it began. Yet early on there was absolutely no indication that Misty would be the person that would be the Queen of the Heart-Melters. When Pokemon first burst into my life in 1998, I was 13 years old and was just at the early stages of puberty. However, I already had a massive crush on somebody in my school. And even if I wasn't dedicating my entire romantic feelings towards somebody else, Misty wasn't near the top of my list of alternatives. I must confess that I initially found her to be somewhat annoying, such as her intolerance in Ash Catches a Pokemon or her Togepi coup in Who Gets to Keep Togepi. Through late 1998 and early 1999, my feelings towards Misty were annoyance at worst and ambivalence at best.
The summer of 1999 was a turbulent time in my life. I moved from Kansas to Virginia on June 4, 1999 (ten years before Randy Johnson won his 300th game). I was extremely frustrated by the move and ended up having a difficult transition. Things got so chaotic that I really didn't have much time or interest to think about Pokemon. It didn't help that Kids WB had not aired a new episode in months. I continued to watch older episodes on occasion, but I had other interests, like Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64.

Summer eventually passed into autumn. Somebody, I can't remember if it was my sister or one of my friends, told me that Kids WB was going to air brand new episodes on Saturday, September 4, 1999. Even though Pokemon had fallen to the wayside, I still liked the show enough that I made sure to be there for the premiere. The episode was Princess vs. Princess, which actually happened earlier in the timeline, before the Togepi Incident, but its localization was delayed because of the large amount of text in the episode. Misty was the main focus of the episode, and since my feelings towards Misty had turned from ambivalent to positive (mostly from being around my sister, a major Misty fan, all the time), I found the episode to be fairly enjoyable. However, one Misty episode was not enough to make me a Misty fan for life.

The turning point actually happened after the episode. Previously, the episodes would be followed at the end by the Pokerap, but a new feature that debuted along with Princess vs. Princess was Pikachu's Jukebox. It featured selections from songs on the 2.B.A. Master CD playing against scenes from episodes. I was a big fan of the Pokerap, so I wasn't too pleased that they were getting rid of it, but I stayed and watched the first Pikachu's Jukebox - My Best Friend. The thing about Pikachu's Jukebox was that the majority of scenes were from episodes that hadn't aired, so it was almost like having a sneak peek. Most of the clips from the first Jukebox didn't excite me at all, but there was one scene near the end that would steal my heart and change my life.

In the clip, which was the penultimate scene of the video, Misty backs away from the camera towards Ash and Brock with a fan obscuring her face. After she gets into position, she shuts the fan to reveal a beautiful smile. And in the scene, she is wearing a lovely red evening dress. To understand why this is so important, I will admit up front that I have a soft spot for skirts and dresses. I've always felt that skirts and dresses amplify a female's beauty; she always looks better when she wears a skirt or a dress. And there are two classes of skirts or dresses that seem to be universally acclaimed as the best types: the little black dress...and the red dress. The late, great Buck O'Neill once said, "You don't ever walk away from a woman in a red dress." I've never really thought of Misty as being very good looking, but because of the dress, I felt at that moment that Misty was the most beautiful person in the world. It didn't matter that I was mostly ambivalent towards her in the past, and never even thought of her as very good-looking, Misty was the most beautiful person in the world. I could feel my parasympathetic nervous system activate. My entire body felt warm due to vasodilation, and my breathing became labored because of the smooth muscle contraction. It was a very similar feeling to when my schoolyard crush began on October 21, 1997. Yet I didn't care. I cherished the feeling. My attraction towards Misty had begin, and along with it the era of the Heart-Melters.

The Age of Misty 1 (September 4, 1999 - April 17, 2000)
Nobody knows exactly how old Misty is, because nobody really knows the rate at which time passes in the Pokemon world. She did say in the Japanese version of Ash Catches a Pokemon that "This is the worst morning in the ten years of my life." Some take that to believe that she was ten in that episode and she is still ten years old. I, on the other hand, believe that the passage of time in the Pokemon world is equivalent to the passage of time in the real world. Ash Catches a Pokemon aired in Japan on April of 1997, so I take it to mean that Misty was ten in April of 1997. Misty just strikes me as somebody who has a summer birthday, so that would place her birthday somewhere in summer of 1986, specifically in July. This means that she would now be 23. Perhaps my logic is flawed, but maybe it just helps me feel better about being attracted to Misty.

I am not an expert on love and romance, but I believe that two things happen when one falls in love. The first is that one comes to believe that the person one loves is the most beautiful person in the world. And the second is that when one falls in love, one cannot stop thinking about the person he or she loves. And even though I consider my feelings towards Misty a mere crush rather than full-blown, well-developed love, I still experienced both of these symptoms. I go back and watch old videos of Misty and I can only think to myself at how beautiful she is. And I couldn't stop thinking about her no matter where I went. I thought about her at school, I thought about her on the bus, and I thought about her at home. And then I would think about Misty and her lovely red dress as I went to sleep at nights. I owned a bootleg copy of the first Pokemon movie, and I began watching it almost obsessively just so I can see Misty. I continued to watch new episodes of Pokemon even though it was clear that the episodes weren't quite at the same level of quality as the earlier episodes that I enjoyed in 1998-1999. They featured Misty, so I would watch them.

Of course, Misty did not change my life solely by dominating my thoughts. It was through my attraction towards Misty that I entered the world of Internet communities. Before autumn of 1999, I was largely an Internet neophyte. I did not get online for the very first time until November of 1997 (I remember thinking it was the most amazing thing ever), and up through autumn of 1999, the only thing I did online was read about movies. However, after the Age of Misty began, I started to go online in order to search for Misty pics and connect with other fans of Misty. I found the picture that launched my attraction towards Misty on a website dedicated to AAML (which I used to believe in but am now strongly against mostly because I feel Misty is too good for Ash). A few weeks later I ended up on the message board, and for the first time I discovered the pleasure of finding people with similar interests and being able to communicate with them online. This began an eight year journey through various online message boards that culminated with the closing of NSider on September 17, 2007.

By early 2000, I was getting rather annoyed by the deterioration of the quality of Pokemon episodes, but I kept watching new episodes because they had Misty. But then I started to notice that even the portrayal of Misty was starting to go downhill. Maybe it's a biased view, but I have always felt that Misty was the wisest of the three main characters, always present to dispense wisdom. But soon she was making mistakes she shouldn't be making, like saying in Tracey Gets Bugged that she was glad Venonat is not a bug Pokemon. This was not the Misty that I knew and loved. A third observation I've made about love is that when somebody is in love, he or she likes to think that his or her romantic interest is perfect. When evidence comes up that points to the contrary, one is thrown into a state of cognitive dissonance, which is the conflict formed by holding onto two contradictory beliefs. Well, I ended up in this cognitive dissonant state. There I was, being strongly attracted to Misty, whom I believed was perfect. But then evidence came about showing she was not perfect. The solution is, of course, to modify one of the beliefs to eliminate the contradiction. I can go into denial and continue thinking Misty was perfect, which is impossible because there is only one person who is perfect, and it certainly as heck isn't Misty. (Besides, as I later realized, some of Misty's charm came with her flaws.) The other option is to admit that Misty is not perfect but continue to be attracted to her.

In the end, I went with neither option. On the contrary, I took the cowardly way out: I pretty much just dropped my attraction towards Misty. By April of 2000, I could feel that the Age of Misty was diminishing. She wasn't dominating my fantasies the way she did in late 1999, and I ended up going towards different interests. On April 17, 2000, I was mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn is a tedious task, so it is always a time that I can spend contemplating various things. While mowing the backyard on that day, I thought about how far my attraction towards Misty had fallen, and decided that my crush on her has ended. I took a few more hours to think about the situation, and eventually made the announcement on the message boards. My Misty crush was over. On the whole, the Age of Misty had lasted for 225 days, or more specifically seven months and 12 days, which as it turns out would be extremely long for a Heart-Melter (remember, the average length for a Heart-Melter Age is 3-4 months.) But in the end, I was done with Misty, or so I thought...
The Age of Misty 2 (Sometime in 2005 - Present) Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned into years. I graduated high school and entered the University of Virginia in 2003. During those intervening years, I never really went back to Misty. She was still my favorite Pokemon character, but all that I felt towards her was a sense of nostalgia towards the days gone by. I've had several other interests and three others join the ranks as Heart-Melters. Of course, none of them reached the high that Misty achieved back in 1999 and 2000. And then, something happened during my first year of college. I started to feel some stirrings in my heart towards Misty again. Perhaps it was because I was in a brand new environment and needed something familiar to turn towards, or it was because I just joined the Nintendo NSider community and needed something zany to distinguish myself. I can't quite remember the circumstances, and I can't even guarantee that it happened in 2003, but Misty was definitely making her return in my life.

Misty's comeback was slightly detoured during the Age of Elizabeth Patterson and the Age of Kaho in 2004 and 2005, but by the summer of 2005 it became quite clear that the Age of Misty was back, and this time she was here to stay. It was like two lovers coming back after a long break-up and deciding to take another shot at a romance. To do so they need to analyze what went wrong the first time around, and to do things differently. Since Misty is nothing more than a fictional character in a cartoon, if there were to be any change, it would have to come from me. This time around, I knew that I couldn't idealize her; that I have to take the bad with good. I needed to know that as smart as she is, she doesn't know EVERYTHING, and as kind as she is, she can still be impulsive. To believe that she is perfect would set me up for a disappointment, which was what happened back in 2000. Furthermore, I needed to take it slowly. One thing that I felt keeps most Heart-Melter Ages from being so short was that I'd dedicate so much energy into admiring them that I eventually burned myself out. So I allowed myself to think about Misty, but did not let her take over my life.

This second Age of Misty has also slowly but surely me gotten me back into Pokemon. Between 2000 and 2002, the only contact I had with Pokemon was Pokemon Puzzle League, which is my sister's favorite game, playing through Pokemon Blue again for nostalgia's sake, and listening to some of my favorite episodes on audio tape. But in 2004 I went out and bought my first new Pokemon game since getting Blue. Sure, it was Pokemon Leaf Green, but it's still a relatively significant step. I also began to convert the Kanto Pokemon episodes from VHS to WMV, a task I completed between 2005 and 2006. In 2007, I went out and got my first Pokemon RPG without Misty: Pokemon Diamond, and last year I started to watch the Pokemon episodes again. It's not a significant increase, but like with this second Age of Misty, I am still trying to take things slowly.

My feelings towards Misty have been up and down since the second Age of Misty began. At certain times, like in the summers of 2006-2008, my attraction towards her have been intense, almost as intense as the original Age in 1999-2000, where I can't stop thinking about her. At other times I can go almost an entire day without thinking about her, although I do try to dream about her when I go to bed. I've come to accept the fact that my interests have always been cyclical, but it's been two years since the Age of Tomo ended, and even then the Age of Misty marches on. I believe that by now, no matter what happens, Misty will be a constant in my life for a long time to come.

So I've written over 3,000 words regarding my attraction towards Misty. If you're bored enough to have read all of it, I'm sure you have one question to ask me: Why? Why have I dedicated about ten years of my life being attracted to a fictional character in a cartoon? Why do I seem almost proud of being attracted to a fictional character in a cartoon for ten years? Why am I more willing to talk about this than my faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ, whose love is infinitely more precious than anything Misty can give me? I've thought about these questions, and the only reply I can think of is that at this moment I'm not too worried about my romantic life being a joke. I believe that God has our best interest in mind, and as long as we trust in Him, we'll know once the right person comes. I know that if I go around just actively looking for love, I'll end up getting disappointed or heartbroken (Hey, it's happened before.) So I think I'll just take it easily, put my faith in the Lord, and wait for the right time. It'll be all right, as long as I don't put my childish obsessions over the Lord. (Regarding question number three: Houston, we have a problem.)

Rankings: Strength: 1 - Let me just say this: there are ten Heart-Melters, but only one managed to get past the threshold to become a full-fledged crush, and that's Misty. None of them managed to dominate my thoughts quite like Misty. I never dreamed about any of the other Heart-Melters quite like Misty. I never gushed about any of the Heart-Melters like I did with Misty. And this is if I'm just looking at the first Age of Misty from 1999-2000. The fact is there is a second Age of Misty, and even though the strength of attraction during the second Age is not as intense as the first Age, it was still strong enough to outdo all of the other Heart-Melter Ages combined on its own merit. Putting both of these Ages together seems almost unfair, but it shows just how far ahead Misty ranks in terms of Strength.

Duration: 1 - My original crush on Misty lasted from September 4, 1999 through April 17, 2000. That's seven months and thirteen days, already longer than any of the other Heart-Melter ages, only two of which lasted longer than six months (that would be Buttercup and Elizabeth Patterson.) Most Heart-Melters Ages were finished within three to four months. That alone is enough to give Misty the lead in terms of duration, but one must also take into account that I am in the midst of a second Age of Misty, which has been going on for four to six years. To think of it in another way, today is the twelfth anniversary of the start of the original Misty crush, and she is still an active Heart-Melter.

Recurrence: 1 -Recurrence has been very difficult to rate for the other Heart-Melters because once the attraction period ended, I never really felt the desire to go back to them, so I've been pretty much ranking them by how much I like them as a character after the Ages ended. Only two Heart-Melters has had something resembling the revival of an attraction, but neither of them were significant enough to count as new Ages. No such problems exist with Misty. I had one period of attraction from 1999 to 2000 that qualifies as an Age, and after three to four years of dormancy I had another period of attraction that qualifies as an Age. I think it's easy to declare Misty the winner in this field.

Overall: 3 - Misty stomped the competition in Strength. She dominated the field in Duration. And she ranked #1 in Recurrence. None of these things were even close. Is it any wonder that Misty is the Queen of the Heart-Melters?

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