Discussing who the characters are and what canon is, is one of fandom’s most familiar activities.
Fan reading, however, is a social process through which individual interpretations are shaped and reinforced through ongoing discussions with other readers. Such discussions expand the experience of the text beyond its initial consumption.JENKINS, HENRY (1992). TEXTUAL POACHER, ROUTLEDGE, 101.
In the prevalence of this activity, we might see, not an interest in any final answer, but how the discussion itself legitimizes the existence of a canon.
It is further linked to a tendency for viewers to apply some criteria of fidelity to the adaptations, as most assume that the webtoon has canonical status and hence primacy on determining the contents and significance of the story.Lee, Sung-Ae. “The Web of Story Across the Multiple Platforms of South Korea’s Cheese in the Trap.” Essay. In Transmedia in Asia and the Pacific – Industry, Practice and Transcultural Dialogues, edited by Filippo Gilardi and Celia Lam, 35–58. Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies. Singapore: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.
At the recent Fan Studies Network North America Conference, Clark talked about negotiating a character’s key attributes even after (or even more so) as the canon material comes to an end.
Clark, John. “Pokémon, I’m Glad I Got to Meet You!: Reckoning with the End of Ash Ketchum’s Journey in the Pokémon Fandom.” In Re: Fandom – Fan Studies Network North America Conference, 2023.
Silberstein-Bamford, at the same place, discusses the strategies fans use to manage the different attributes of the same character.
Silberstein-Bamford, Fabienne. “Refine, Revise, Rethink: The Fluidity of Character in Fanfiction.” In Re: Fandom – Fan Studies Network North America Conference , 2023.
In these discussions, we can see that the act of negotiating these character’s identity, fans, at the same time, construct said identity: if there can be a discussion about who this character is, they certainly are and their identity can be fixed – if for the length of a fic. Then again for another one. Then again.