i was watching megamind when my favorite quote happened
Excuse me while I squee over my favorite movie and favorite show being combined perfectly.
i was watching megamind when my favorite quote happened
Excuse me while I squee over my favorite movie and favorite show being combined perfectly.
Since people may miss it, this year’s April Fool’s chapter is up in place of the real chapter for today only. After that, the real chapter will get posted and the April Fool’s chapter will be archived in the Picture Book (this link is the permalink version, so it will not change).
This year’s theme is “How many bad Inuyasha fanfiction tropes can I work into a single story?”
Are Hanyou Sterile?
(Full View Here)
Having been in this fandom for a while, I’ve come across a handful of fans who believe that Inuyasha, like other famous hybrids, is sterile simply because he is a hybrid, nothing more, end of story. While this is a legitimate possibility, it’s not an absolute. Why? Because sterile hybrids aren’t so simply for being hybrids—they’re sterile because of an odd chromosome count. Hybrids in which both parents have the same number of chromosomes, such as “grolar bears” (grizzly/polar bear) and “camas” (camel/llama), are, in fact, fertile.
The question then falls to how many chromosomes youkai have, which is never explained in the series (nor does it need to be). Thus, it is up to personal interpretations, theories, and opinions.
So if you, as a fan, decide that youkai should have 62 or 66 chromosomes or something and therefore hanyou would be sterile, then great! That’s your opinion and you’re free to have it. Personally I prefer the idea that youkai, like humans, have 64 chromosomes so that their hanyou offspring are fertile, but hey, that’s just me. Either interpretation can be supported by science and neither are disproven by canon! :)
Also, before anyone starts whining about how I’m “taking this too seriously” or “looking too deep into it” or whatever…I don’t care. As a fan, I’m allowed to look into any aspect of the series as deeply or as shallowly as I please, as are you. Anatomy/biology and genetics are things I find interesting and enjoy learning about, and I like to apply my nerdknowlege to things like this because I genuinely enjoy doing so. So please take your “you’re taking this too seriously” complaints somewhere else.
Quick correction: There is a typo in the above; humans have 46, not 64, chromosomes, with 23 inherited from the mother (including an X chromosome that among other things codes for one half of genetic biological sex), and 23 inherited from the father (with one being either an X or Y chromosome, determining whether the child is genetically male or female.)
Now that that is out of the way, a note: many assume using science in interpreting a fantasy series is a fool’s errand. And to some extent, this is true enough, in that one could be lazy and say “it’s magic, you can do whatever.” Rumiko Takahashi herself sometimes takes this approach, such as answering the infamous “pregnant Ranma” question with a mock-horrified, “I don’t think about such things and neither should you!”
However, I disagree with this approach, because I feel like the more you ground your fantasy in reality, and the more internal sense it makes, then the more coherent it feels and the less distracting the fantastic elements are. Having some sort of scientific explanation for such things is a good way to aid suspension of disbelief, even if you have to modify your science to allow for the weirdness inherent in your fantasy setting.
Besides, I’m totally a nerd about this stuff anyway, and what fun is it to ignore a nerdy question like this!? So with that noted, here’s my way-verbose thoughts on the matter:
Bringing in genetics makes this an interesting and nowhere near easy-to-answer question, because real-world biology is so complex it ends up completely unintuitive on this kind of thing.
For instance, as the second episode of the rebooted Cosmos series pointed out, every one of us carries genes in common with oak trees. We share genetic elements with all other life, yet we can’t reproduce with the vast majority of it. Why?
Well, the answer is not as obvious as you might think. For instance, the material above about chromosomal counts is useful as a starting point, as it explains why some closely-related species cannot generally reproduce fertile offspring, but it doesn’t explain it fully, and it’s a simplified portrait of how hybridization works in terms of fertility. The truth is weirder than that.
For instance, pairing male donkeys with female horses produces mules, which are healthy creatures sharing characteristics of donkeys and horses. Mules are the go-to example for infertile hybrids. They’re familiar animals, and they have a chromosome count one pair off from horses and donkeys, which is an easy-to-understand explanation for why they cannot reproduce. The Inu no Taishō, Inuyasha’s father, could have had 44 or 48 chromosomes and still reproduced with Inuyasha’s mother, who would have had 46. Ostensibly, Inuyasha would be like a mule, which seems to imply he can’t have biological children. There’s just one problem with this explanation:
It’s wrong, because on rare occasions, there have been mules who reproduced; they just happened to be female (“mollies” or “molly mules” as the term goes) and only able to reproduce with full-blooded donkeys or horses.
Surprised? Don’t believe me? Well then prepare to be amazed, because there’s been dozens of cases of it recorded over the past few centuries. For our purposes, the following modern documented cases are the most relevant portion of the page. From the current edit, bolding mine for emphasis.
Since 1527 there have been more than 60 documented cases of foals born to female mules around the world. There are reports that a mule in China produced a foal in 1984. In Morocco, in early 2002, a mare mule produced a rare foal. In 2007 a mule named Kate gave birth to a mule son in Colorado. Blood and hair samples were tested verifying that the mother was a mule and the colt was indeed her offspring.
But wait, there’s more! Mules, it turns out, aren’t the only well-known hybrids of that type. Ever hear of ligers?
A liger is the hybrid offspring of a male lion and a tigress. The interesting thing about ligers is that sometimes they’re fertile, even though nobody expected them to be.
From the current edit of the Liger article:
[…] in 1943, a fifteen-year-old hybrid between a lion and an ‘Island’ tiger was successfully mated with a lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub, though of delicate health, was raised to adulthood.
In September 2012, the Russian Novosibirsk Zoo announced the birth of a “liliger”, which is the offspring of a liger mother and a lion father. The cub was named Kiara.
So, we have examples where hybrids between species with slightly different chromosome counts, have had offspring. However, all three of my examples include females; the male hybrid offspring of such pairings seem to be universally sterile. Which is a problem for Inuyasha, who is to the best of our knowledge very much a male.
In fact, it’s so rare for male hybrids of that type to reproduce that I had trouble digging anything up on it during the short prep time I gave myself for this article; however, I did find out why. You see, I ran across multiple references to “Haldane’s Rule" regarding heterogametic sex in hybrids. Heterogametic sex refers to genetic sex determined by a heterozygous (nonidentical) chromosome pair; in other words, in the case of mammals, the XY sex (which codes for “genetic male”).
Haldane’s Rule is thus: ”When in the F1 offspring of two different animal races one sex is absent, rare, or sterile, that sex is the heterozygous sex [heterogametic sex].”
Mind you, this means that the “only female hybrids can reproduce” rule is only accurate to species like mammals, where sex is determined through genetic and specifically heterogametic means…which means that the rule is irrelevant for species for whom sex is not determined by gametes, such as sea turtles or flatworms. It also means that the “only female hybrids can reproduce” rule is turned on its head for birds, for whom the heterogametic sex is female, who carry not an XY combination, but a ZW combination, because nature.
However, Inuyasha obviously isn’t a bird, sea turtle, or flatworm. His yōkai half is dog yōkai, which means we can assume he is 100% mammal. Which seems to present a problem.
Because in mammals, from what I can tell, Haldane’s rule applies firmly to hybrids from species with differing chromosome counts; and in mammals, the heterogametic sex is male. Inuyasha is male. So if he’s like a mule, couldn’t he still be infertile while say, Shiori, a female hanyō fathered by the bat yōkai Tsukuyomaru, could be fertile?
This is true, if he’s a hybrid like a mule. But as pointed out above with “grolar bears,” sometimes closely-related species don’t have differing numbers of chromosomes, and in that case Haldane’s rule becomes irrelevant. So, how can we tell whether yōkai have the same number of chromosomes as humans?
No, really; we seriously, honestly cannot. And here is why:
First, even though yōkai appear more complex than humans (with powers like shapeshifting and features like wings or horns), it means nothing when it comes to counting chromosome. Apparent complexity has nothing to do with genetic complexity; the potato has more chromosomes than a human, yet fruit flies, motile animals, have only eight chromosomes. Mammals like dogs, bats, and humans tend to have a few dozen. What we see as complexity is entirely surface-level. Yōkai could still have the same number of chromosomes as a human, just like Sable antelope do. By the way, chimps, who look and act a heck of a lot closer to human than antelopes, have 48.
Chromosome count is not arbitrary, obviously, but does not follow rules that the average layman can guess.
In fact, Takahashi accidentally gives us a perfect fictional example of this, in that yōkai in InuYasha seem to be hybrids with other animals, or enchanted versions of them as it were, yet at least two species of them are able to reproduce with female humans (The Inu no Taishō’s species of dog yōkai, and Tsukuyomaru’s species of bat yōkai).
Which means they must have a chromosome count close to humans’. This implies that no matter how similar the Inu no Taishō was to dogs, he was still more closely related to humans. For one, he can’t have had the same number of chromosomes as a dog, because dogs (and their close relatives, wolves) have a whopping 78 chromosomes. Yet he has all those cool powers that dogs and wolves of a normal bent just don’t have! Chromosome count can screw up offspring’s fertility if they differ between parents, but it’s not something that can be predicted by anything other than straight-up genetic analysis. Which Takahashi has neglected to provide us.
Another thing to consider is that we don’t know if yōkai can reproduce with each other in terms of crossing species. So, the idea of canonical species of yōkai other than bat or dog reproducing with humans (fertile offspring or not), is pure speculation. Why do I say this?
Well, we know that domesticated dogs and wolves can interbreed (because they only separated as species a few tens of thousands of years ago). Their offpsring have no problems reproducing because they also have 78 chromosomes, as stated above. But wouldn’t you have guessed that foxes would be able to breed with wolves or dogs?
Nope! Depending on the species of fox, they either can’t breed at all because of wildly differing chromosome counts, or they tend to produce sterile offspring because of mildly differing chromosome counts.
Additionally, even closely-related species with mildly different chromosome counts, such as chimps and humans, have other biological factors (chemistry of the, ahem, relevant parts for instance) that prevent pregnancy across the two species. Hybrids are rare for a reason.
In the end, all we know is that male dog and bat yōkai can reproduce with human females, which implies they’re genetically closer to humans than to dogs or bats. But there is nothing to indicate whether their offspring would be fertile or infertile. At all. So you are free in fanfiction and roleplay to go either way with it.
A more interesting question will be addressed in my next article though, pertinent to fic writers and fanartists alike: if Inuyasha can reproduce, what kind of kids would he father?
I do love me some scientific breakdown of fantastical elements, but reblogging because of friggin this:
I feel like the more you ground your fantasy in reality, and the more internal sense it makes, then the more coherent it feels and the less distracting the fantastic elements are. Having some sort of scientific explanation for such things is a good way to aid suspension of disbelief, even if you have to modify your science to allow for the weirdness inherent in your fantasy setting.
It doesn’t even have to necessarily be a purely scientific explanation, just as long as you have a good idea of how your universe and characters work before getting too far into your story. Especially with writing long-running properties, you’ll inevitably run into places where you’re not sure where you’re going or you want to go a different direction than you were originally planning. But as long as you have a firm grasp on what the rules of your universe are and follow them, it’ll guarantee that wherever you end up and however you get there at least make logical sense.
Otherwise you end up with something like Meidou Zangetsuha that went from “portal to hell” to “portal to wherever the hell”.
….I caught him red handed…Talk about your watchdog….
Oh, huh. Nice to see my old art is still making the rounds, even if this was a lazy sketch I did in, like, 10 minutes. ^_^*
Even so, I still think I managed to capture the “guilty dog” face pretty well. XD
…is it even possible for Sunrise to write ANYTHING Inuyasha-related without throwing in a bunch of pointless “OSUWARI”s? -_-
Unnnfortunately, no. The “osuwari” thing was already getting excessive in the manga when Kagome switched from using them to keep Inuyasha from hurting people to using them to punish him for hurting her feelings. It makes Kagome come across as extremely petty if she’ll automatically resort to the same level of retribution for assuming he was off flirting with Kikyou as she would if he was trying to kill someone. Instead of, you know, talking to him about it.
I haven’t posted it yet, but Track 16 of “Aka to Shiro no Utagassen" has a "sit" so egregiously undeserved that the drama amazingly has Kagome recognize she overreacted and go to apologize to Inuyasha about it. Great, we’re making progress!
… Except when she finally gets around to apologizing in Track 22, she immediately “sit”s him AGAIN for an even lesser offense.
Admittedly this is the anime version milking the “sit” thing as much as it can for whatever flimsy reason it can find (because abuse is funny if it’s female on male!). The last “sit” in the manga (excluding the pointlessly gratuitous one in the epilogue chapter) was actually all the way back in chapter 452. That’s right, the final 100 chapters of the manga amazingly had zero “sits”.
Although, while I could live with the lack of a kiss in the manga, I REALLY wish the series would have ended with Kagome removing the rosary. From the beginning, the rosary was a physical symbol of the lack of trust in their relationship, and I simply cannot accept them as a healthy couple so long as that symbol of distrust remains. Kagome needs to show her trust in Inuyasha by removing her ability to instantly silence all dissent, and work on overcoming their relationship problems through the use of many words rather than just one.
Inuyasha AU where everything is exactly the same but Sesshomaru is a tiny foof dog.
I’d been wanting to do a manga panel of this scene for years and finally got around to it.
Hah, I’d wondered why my comment count had suddenly seen an uptick. XD. Thanks for letting me know, Kuro-kuro.
In which I attempt to mimic Takahashi’s style for a Memoirs image and scare myself with how close I get.
Merry Christmas from Inu-papa.com!