I originally started working on this list years ago (literally years ago), but then I set it aside because my descriptions of each pairing were getting to be ridiculously long, and I was talking about the backstory and facts and all of this annoying stuff which really has nothing to do with why I like certain pairings.
So today I have decided to start over. Let's start at the top.
1. Scar/Ed. (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Anyone who knows me as Herongale knows this. I love Scar so much I had his array tramp-stamped to my body. I wrote epic fanfic for this pairing, some of the best writing I have ever done. Scar is an emotionally crippled man, uptight and judgmental. Ed is passionate and brutally smart, unconventional but also highly judgmental. The ideal chemistry between them is prickly and cautious developing into a beautiful emotional co-dependancy. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.
2. Daisuke/Ken. (Digimon 02)
The pairing I made my name with; also the pairing that brought anax permanently into my life. There was a lot of flexibility in this pairing, and a lot of people preferred the kinky/messed up Kaizer/Daisuke side of things, but for me I was far more into what happened to them after Ken "found his heart." Both characters had flaws, big ones, and kind of needed the other to make up for these flaws. I will never get over how purely sweet this pairing is for me. This is love at its most innocent and fresh.
I AM NOT SURE, NUMBERS ONE AND TWO MAY BE A BIT OF A TIE
3. Raistlin/Caramon (Dragonlance)
A pairing that has lain dormant in my heart for a long time; I haven't revisited it in years. But I give it a high place, higher than several of my active loves, simply because it made a profound impression on me. I still love it very much. I never participated in any online fandom and I never wrote fanfic: I loved this before internet access was widely available. Raistlin was a very convincingly evil, bitter character, and Caramon was his heart. "Look Raist, bunnies!" The defense rests.
4. Nynaeve/Lan (Wheel of Time)
Nynaeve happens to be one of my single favourite characters of all time, and I identify with her almost as strongly as I do with Reki from Haibane Renmei. There is a lot to criticize about the WoT series, but Nynaeve's evolution remains one of the most well-laid out, complex evolutions of a major character I have ever seen. For one thing, she actively devolves over the course of several books: she starts out strong and comes off as very wise and impressive, but as she travels the world and begins to understand it better, she becomes foolish and weak. Silly. This all happens because she lets go of the mask she wore, the role of Village Wisdom. She found actual strength in that role, but it was only after losing all of that was she able to start finding strength in her self. Anyway, I don't think it's hyperbole to say that Lan is the catalyst of all this: she wants to better herself for him. Lan is a very noble man, but brittle and crippled in much the same way Scar is, and together the two have a chemistry I adore.
5. Megatron/Starscream (Transformers G1)
Starscream is my favourite male character of all time (yes, I love him more than Scar). He gets pride of place because I have loved him ever since I was 11 years old (Digidestined aged FYI). He is shallow, vain, petty, grasping, arrogant, cruel.... and totally, totally awesome. Anyone with half a brain cell can't help but note that he and Megatron have a very special chemistry, with Megatron singling him out for beatings and insults but also refusing to kill him even though Starscream is a blatant traitor who barely ever even tries to hide his ambitions. I love the rivalry, the brutal in-your-face aggression of their relationship. Plus, it's just so fucking precious. And unpretentious. I can't take myself seriously when I get to thinking about the two of them together, and I like that a lot.
6. Haseo/Skeith (.hack//G.U.)
Kind of surprising that this one only comes in at the six slot, considering how eagerly I love it, and how quickly it has become important to me. It's a pairing I share with Anax, and it's his fault that I love it at all. Skeith has almost no personality as far as official canon is concerned, but Anax has detailed via The Power of Imagination a richly complex, beautifully compelling version of this character. Skeith is a powerful AI, intelligent and dangerous, but also adorably naive. He doesn't know as much as he thinks he knows. Haseo has some of the prickliness and emotional standoffishness of Scar, mixed in with some of the youth and vigor of Ed... but with many qualities which are uniquely his own. It is both pathetic and amazing that he'd fall in love with an online AI. And trust me: very, very hot.
7. Katchoo/Francine (Strangers in Paradise)
First and only femmeslash pairing on this list. I followed their relationship through the comic as it was being released, and the fact that they spent several years away from each other, estranged, tore my heart to bits whenever I thought about it too hard. There's a lot of personal identification in this one: personality-wise, I am often like Francine, and Anax is a lot like Katchoo. Their arguments were so vivid to me. I have actually had fights just like that. I found the ending of the comic book to be a little too rushed and pat (I wanted to spend more time seeing them together damnnit), but the journey was hella moving. And hot: a Francine and Katchoo kiss is like a million times hotter than a frank sex scene for other, lesser characters.
8. Anne/Gilbert (Anne of Green Gables)
So sweet and pure. This was an innocent love of my early years. I never imagined them getting it on beyond kissing, but that was enough for me then. It remains enought for me now. I actually went to Prince Edward Island back in high school, so I got to walk in the world that Anne loved so much. I could imagine her and Gilbert together there.
9. Frodo/Sam (Lord of the Rings)
I have always had this thing for all-consuming devotion. I hardly even knew that I shipped these characters growing up; for many years I didn't even know what shipping was. The physical, carnal potential of the pairing mostly eludes me, since I am into it almost entirely for the love and the mutual willingness to sacrifice for the other. I don't care if they never have sex; I just like seeing them together. One of the reasons the end of the LotRs always fucks me over emotionally is having to stay with Sam as he waves goodbye to the greatest, deepest love of his life.
10. Skyfire/Starscream (Transformers G1)
First repeat customer! Starscream is literally millions of years old, so Skyfire kind of comes in as Starscream's "first love." They were scientists and explorers together, doing god knows what kind of research. Now they are enemies, but I think it's a kind of bittersweet thing. This is my "sweet" Starscream pairing with lots of emo, emo enough to rival Armada Starscream's entire career of emo. I believe that Skyfire truly loves Starscream and that they could even be in love again someday, if they both could forgive each other for their various betrayals.
11. Eric/Sheila (Dungeons and Dragons)
I wrote fanfiction for this pairing. I actually did. It will never see the light of day because it was so bad, but Eric hits my "snarky brittle lonely asshole" kink square on. I just love redemption cases, and he is this spoiled little rich brat. Most people pair him with Diana and he and she do have a kind of bickering sort of chemistry, but for me the appeal of that is lessened because Diana is already pretty well put together. She would never need Eric. Sheila, on the other hand, has weakness of her own, and although the show pushes pretty hard to pair her up with Hank, I think that putting the two emotional weaklings together makes for more interesting chemistry. Let Hank and Diana, the two heros, have sweet uncomplicated romance. I like the brokeness and awkwardness and hesitations of an Eric/Sheila pairing way too much to ever give it up. This pairing may deserve to even be higher in the rankings, but that's only because pairings 7-11 are all fairly equivalent, and my ordering in this set is fairly arbitrary.
12. Rick/Minmay (Robotech)
It just now occurs to me that May and Miriya didn't even make this list, and I love them so much. That just means that the 20 I included are all-stars in the Herongale pantheon. This was one of my first shared fandoms. Back in fifth grade my friend Michelle and I would meet every day to play, and we'd pretend each of us to be a Robotech character: she got Lisa, I was Minmay. I loved Minmay: she was awkward and childish and not very bright, but she had a very good heart. We were doing our little LARP during Robotech's first TV run, so neither of us knew who Rick was going to choose... it broke my heart when Rick ended up with Lisa, although I knew that was probably best for him, because I was sooo invested in him ending up with
me Minmay. For a period of time, this pairing was alive for me in a way no pairing has ever been, before or since. I think the fact that it didn't work out actually helped ensure my continued love of the pairing, because I wanted sooo desperately to believe another reality was possible. I obsessed trying to think up ways it could happen.
13. Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice)
What does Mr. Darcy have in common with Scar, Ken, Starscream, Haseo, Eric, and Raistlin? Oh yes... in his own way, he's a little bit of an asshole. I love how he has to eat his pride once he falls for the girl he was so quick to scorn. This pairing is so lovingly and perfectly depicted in the source material (aka the novel) that I never felt the need to elaborate on it, not even in my fantasy life, but I really enjoyed reading certain scenes over and over (and over) again. Anyone who has read the book knows what I am talking about. In any case, this was the pairing that showed me that dialogue, when done right, is probably the hottest part of any relationship story. This is a lesson I have never forgotten.
14. Raistlin/Crysania (Dragonlance)
Another repeat offender! I fell for this pairing right away, the first time I read "Time of the Twins." I already was in love with Raistlin, in as far as I could be anyway, and then I read the first scene where Crysania shows up and is totally seduced by the evil mage. That scene turned me on SO HARD and as far as I knew or cared, Crysania was some kind of conveniently placed Mary Sue. And in some ways it turned out to be the case (okay, totally): but she never "saved" Raistlin. Instead, he used her to the bitter end, and she ends up alone and blind and I kind of fell in love with her for her own self. This relationship always felt so one-sided to me, which made it bittersweet.
15. Jo/Laurie (Little Women)
Why, oh why, oh why was this never canon? I liked Mr. Bhaer and Amy okay, but Jo and Laurie had freaking CHEMISTRY. I think the only reason Alcott decided against this pairing was that it was insufficiently moral, i.e. she couldn't make a moral tale of their love. Jo ends up with Mr. Bhaer and it's a lesson in "not judging by appearances" and "loving being poor," whereas Laurie needed to be with Amy so the both of them could learn how not to be superficial. Important life lessons to be sure, but I still feel cheated.
16. Osamu/Ken (Digimon 02)
Sick. Wrong. I KNOW. But somehow so, so right. I can't even talk about this one, it's too shameful.
17. Doumeki/Watanuki (xxxHolic)
Oh, CLAMP. This is only one in a long line of practically canonical shounen-ai pairings involving an eternal spiritual soulbonding relationship between male characters. Admitting to loving this almost feels like admitting to loving Burger King Whoppers: it's a pairing designed to appeal to the masses (sadly, in this case masses of pre-pubescent girls). I have been known to find myself theoretically supporting other not-quite-canon CLAMP pairings (Kurogane/Fai from Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicles and Toya/Yukito from Card Captor Sakura spring INSTANTLY to mind!), but this one has some features of authenticity that cause it to transcend the usual CLAMP stereotypes. It does not hurt that the emotional dynamic reminds me a little of Scar and Ed... but I think the thing that I really like is that Doumeki, the seemingly detached and "cool" one of the two, is also the one who is more consciously devoted: Watanuki, the spazz, spends almost all of his time brooding over Himawari, and he has a very hard time even admitting that Doumeki is a friend, let alone someoen he has a special connection to.
18. Madarame/Saki (Genshiken)
Nothing spells out "doomed" so well as Madarame's completely unrequited love for Saki: Saki is perfectly happy in a relationship with the man of her dreams, and she remains with her boyfriend throughout the series. It would be easy to describe my affection for this pairing in terms of the necessary geeky heartbreak, by concentrating only on Madarame's side of the equation. But the thing that makes this an OTP actually comes from Saki: as a militantly non-otaku person, she ends up with a very comfortable friendship with Madarame, and when she talks to him a lot more of her personality emerges than we ever see when she's with Kousaka. Were Madarame cute, he would be her ideal man: but he is not, and so she will never see it. They have real chemistry that is mutual, but the romantic feelings will always be his and his alone.
19. Haseo/Endrance (.hack//G.U.)
aka Ryou and Kaoru. Haseo is back, but this time with a hopelessly reclusive shut-in with absolutely zero real-life self confidence. Endrance is shamelessly smitten with Haseo, and is proud to advertise his feelings to anyone who will ask: but in real life he is super shy. It would take a lot for these two to meet IRL but that is the basis of most of the fan interest. Harukami wrote a series of fics for this pairing which kind of perfectly illustrate the wrongness and wonderfulness of Endrance's feelings, and even though I'm not actively crushing on it, I am confident this pairing will always be one I treasure.
20. Gokudera/Tsuna (Reborn)
It's a testament to how amazing this pairing is that I love it DESPITE massive canon failure. It's all about Gokudera's devotion for me: he is this awesome badass cranky teenager who just lights up whenever he sees Tsuna. He'd do anything for Tsuna. Tsuna I could take or leave, but Gokudera.... ;___;
And that's it. I just kind of wrote up whatever came to mind.
Here is the final tally:
slash: 11 pairings
het: 8 pairings
So what say you? It's time for everyone to trot out their top twenties for inspection!