I don’t understand the weird hatred that some people have for Mako. It makes no sense to me for people to be profiling Mako against ex-boyfriends who have abused them. Understandably, Mako has flaws but he has never been an abusive character, neither to Asami nor Korra. Treating Mako as a paragon of the perfect boyfriend is reducing his character. Mako is not meant to always be a perfect boyfriend; he is meant to be a perfect love. Which Mako actually succeeds in doing. Mako is a character: three dimensionally, he isn’t only supposed to be only be a love interest and that what made his and Korra’s relationship so interesting. They were both characters in their own right trying to make it work. And it succeeds and succeeds on many levels.
I think people are not addressing something that is extremely important. Korra and Mako are not “perfect” boyfriend and girlfriend. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Mako was made to mature before his adulthood so he has certain needs and styles of showing affection that is pretty non-generic. In fact, Korra, due to growing up mostly alone, is not really indoctrinated to popular social cues in the dating game herself. This allows an esoteric dialogue between them. One must not always look at a character as a reflection of themselves or what they would do. It can’t really be valid because of differing circumstances. I mean, Korra didn’t plan to kiss Mako beforehand neither did Mako plan prematurely to return her kiss in a full-fledged way. It happened for other circumstances.
The relationship had some mature circumstances thrown at it. It isn’t fully a standard teen romance and that is why Makorra shined. For example, Mako said it made “more sense” to be with Asami. This attitude clearly showed that like many people Mako thought that dating Asami would be prudent because Asami is, ironically, the “perfect girlfriend.” Asami is the person you can’t really be gut-wrenchingly honest with, if you are a person like Mako, because Asami behaved like a socialite. Mako aspires to be like her: content, confident and secure. However, you will notice that Mako easily opens up to Korra because Korra and Mako challenge each other and can easily be comfortable with each other. This may be intimidating at first to a person in Mako’s position who has faced so many hardships in life that reservation has become second skin and instinct to him at first. Then when Korra got kidnapped Mako realised what was really important was Korra and that confidence, security and contentment would easily follow if he is honest with himself.
Mako’s “crimes” against Asami are also something that young people, of all genders and sexes, accidentally do, it is not innately an evil trait that makes him inevitably a cheating low-life. Despite Book 2 I saw Makorra as a real substantial relationship that had real complex issues involved in it. That is why I loved it. Mako evaluated Korra’s actions and Korra evaluated his which is what true loves actually happen to do. You evaluate to make them better; the best they can be. Mako, as Korra, had some real true complications. Raiko cornered Mako into confessing about Korra but this was not really exacerbated by him from the get-go not finding Korra’s United Forces recruitment a prudent idea. Mako was essentially right. We know with experiences with Aang that Katara was his natural council and that he did less than wise things too out of being rather emotionally hyperactive or too invested. Katara was not always agreeing with Aang, in fact, in one of the most important journeys of Katara’s life Aang refused to join saying that she should forgive her mother’s murderer. Of course, I loved Zutara better because I think Zuko may understand Katara in some cases better but after much thought I must say that Aang was wiser here. Yes, Katara didn’t forgive the man but she couldn’t kill him either. Killing isn’t in Katara’s nature and Aang instinctively knew that. Like Mako instinctively understood that in her zeal to fix things as the avatar Korra forgets about repercussions about her actions. This was the first thing that happened in Republic City when she arrived. Korra went overboard with the Triple Threats making Lin question her tactics.
Where Aang does not engage in action and can pretty much be passive in his avatar duties (while more prudent in his interpersonal relationships) Korra is the antithesis. Katara gave advice to Aang to be more an engaged avatar while Mako gives advice to Korra to not be an overzealous one. I think both relationship types matter and both are full realised characters in their own right due to be able to do something like that. Mako and Katara are not merely cheerleaders. They have the capacity to understand and judge things via a rubric of their own values and ideas which are consistent with the avatars they know but they do think a bit more ahead at times.
In relation with Asami, she is the perfect girlfriend, as in socially she is. She does all the socially right things. But she doesn’t really know people deeply or innately enough to have a bond with them. I mean you will notice Asami is generally nice to everyone like in a way it was Mako’s reservation to everyone just opposite tandem. But she doesn’t really ask Mako much things or even Korra. Like she never does ask what Korra did when she was away all these years even when in the garden having tea and she never asks Mako in the carriage what it must have been like to be alone and fend for himself. She, just reaffirms her own feelings, says she feels safe with Mako and then later with Korra says that she would be unhappy if she didn’t come back after the last battle. Asami has this flaw but it was focused a lot more on Book 1 and by Book 4 well she isn’t really focused on much so it became a bit relegated but it’s still there.
So, Mako is not intrinsically a bad character. I think he has been give a bad hand and is always trying to play it well. I really respect a character who struggles through homelessness, poverty, bureaucracy, prejudices (due to his past criminal history), frustrations at being a good detective and not being able to play things out well and still care about people, care and empathize about the ones he loves and also work hard to become a more competent detective and person. Mako isn’t the socially perfect boyfriend: Mako is an all-around individual.
I actually posted a lot about this on Tumblr as fans are well, indignant or disappointed. Many are fans who are gay or who intensely love or ship gay pairings were offended by Bryan’s statement of “hetero-lens” due to its widespread spectrum implicit in the arena of homophobia. I, on the other hand, thought the comment was meh to me because it didn’t really feel I was in that category. This reviewer who has spent the majority of 2014 being indoctrinated into queer or even heteronormative homosexuality to the point that TPAB actually thought that all I watch is otome or queer animes is pretty much salient with the fact that I am/never was homophobic. I enjoyed some of the pairings in the otome show, saw potency in them and actually critiqued the execution of those shows.
I even wrote one of the longest reviews on this blog on critiquing and also praising Sekaiichi Hatsukoi which is a gay anime which pulled no punches. I really liked Queen’s Blade which is a lesbian anime, though a bit directed towards guys, had all the lesbianism, no holds barred, in its glory for the whole series. I loved Maria Watches Over Us which is a lesbian anime directed towards girls. I loved Cardcaptor Sakura and thought that Tomoyo loving Sakura or even Touya loving Yukito to be very well handled. I wanted Touya ending up with his teacher not because she was female but because I liked teacher-student pairings at that time but really hated the other character liking her teacher and marrying him after her high-school graduation though it was a totally heterosexual pairing. Because though it was not illegal it wasn’t to me tastefully written. I actually like Domoki liking Watanuki in xxxHolic and don’t like those other girls who fancy/like Watanuki aside Yuko Ichihara. And even that after layers of interactions and understandings comes about. One of my favourite anime, also directed towards girls is Revolutionary Girl Utena which shows Utena and Anthy as bisexual characters and mostly lesbians, full frontal, in the animated movie retelling Adolescence Apocalypse.
So, this opinion and article will articulate most of my feelings on the series and also on the pairings that survived. It will be long, span paragraphs and I decided after half-writing it I should also push this through some pages so please bear with me. Thank you if you read all throughout the way and Thank you for reading a bit. Honestly, this article took a long time to write — I was exposed to more material, got tired and procrastinated or cogitated a bit more. Yet I wanted this to be a comprehensive read of what I thought about Korra the series, the character and also Korrasami and Makorra. I will put briefly that I had higher hopes for the series but they were not met and as you will see this is more than any shipping or anything else.
It has to do with how TLA was handled and how LOK was handled: both are different shows and may deal with different things but have some core elements. It is the same way you might judge a reboot or even the different installments of the Final Fantasy series. It was mostly how LOK was writtenindependently in itself. How it was budget cut a lot by both Nick and how Bryke had many problems with Nick that eventual made this an internet only show that was also facing cancellations. So much so that Book 3 and Book 4 followed one after the other. Also, though I personally have nothing against Bryke I do think as writers and creators who were facing a lot of pressure that they did do some mistakes and mess up. Also Nick initially did not like that Korra was a girl and wanted her to be a guy because the Aang formula was pretty much potent still and in these series people for some stupid marketing reason and cultural biases want the main protagonist being a male and not female.
The TLA team was larger, had more writers and obviously many discussions amongst Bryke and those other people so many more ideas and expansions of concepts were apparently plausible and executed. Bryke originally wanted Toph and Azula to be guys and also wanted a love triangle between Katara, Aang and Toph so obviously that idea was scrapped by many others pitching in their ideas. Asami was initially also meant to be a villain I wouldn’t have minded if that happened because I think Spysami is pretty more interesting than thinly written Korrasami. Or, she may have been a double agent that would have proved volumes about her dexterity in general. Makorra was, as I read from Tumblr, described as the perfect pairing by Bryke themselves and how Korra and Mako were right for each other and “soulmates” — so I think Bryke’s Korrasami was done almost like a last minute thing. In fact, I don’t think they did away with Makorra either which is telling in the finale episode. I think they were confused at what to do really and thought that keeping both pairings open but focusing a bit more on Korrasami was the only thing they could do to “salvage” the series because before this finale many people had heavily, explicitly, inexorably critiqued Legend of Korra both critics and fans alike. So, LOK had a lot of problems since Book 1 that had to do and nothing to do with Makorra and pairings and stuff.
I won’t lie that I fast-forwarded to the last scene in LOK to see what happens because by this time I was kinda bored and wanted to know what happens to Korra and by Book 3 and 4 the hints of Makorra were pretty high I wanted to see if they patch up, after some time of course because some time even passed for Kataraang to happen. I was impressed with the spirit portal which became like the equatorial region of their world and that was awesome.I loved the last scene music and ambience but the pairing made me very unhappy because it was just too rushed and scatterbrained to be a beautiful buildup.
So to continue, though some fans of Makorra are homophobic; most of us aren’t. This is due to the fact we come to this show after years of watching anime shows from its infancy dealing with heteronormativity, queer sexualities (both straight and gay), performativity, and also the construction/reconstruction of identities. So, as most of us are in our late teens and twenties or even forties we are already nonplussed by homosexuality rather accepting it wholeheartedly as a romantic-sexual outcome. We have relegated our “hetero-lens” a long time ago even before The Legend of Korra or The Legend of Aang/The Last Airbender premiered. I have criticised Korra on numerous occasions and none of them were solely on ships. As listed below:
I am not partial. I have enjoyed gay pairings and straight pairings with equal zeal. I am not infected with “hetero-lens” — also I have accused Korrasami of a “hetero-lens” too. That one is that of heteronormativity. As a friend of mine stated gender or a critique of gender was not established in Korra. Korra is, as Anime Live Reactions put it eloquently, stereotyped as a strong woman/person of colour becoming bisexual and lesbian to validate her strong, “tomboy” existence. Asami’s sexuality has always been a game. She is a doll, a feminine debacle, and having Korra, a masculine, pair up with her reinforces a heteronormative way of looking at things. It essentialises that the avatar spirit is a “male” spirit with or without past lives because Wan, the first avatar, pretty much is shown to be in a relationship with Raava, a female spirit. Lesbianism, gayness or even straight-on heterosexuality is not about binary images but heteronormativity and performativity does reduce it to such.
Korra cannot be alone or be in a heterosexual relationship because that also incinerates the heteronormative way of looking at heterosexual relationships. Makorra ending in a bad note now encapsulates and also mediates on the fixation that strong men and women cannot mix. This stereotype is nothing new. If Mako and Korra could end better we would not point fingers at this rather Bolin and Korra’s chaotic end was foreseen on a lack of attraction on Korra’s part and even Bolin does not date Eska due to her domineering and inhospitable personality. Korra and Bolin are strong and do have chemistry but they end amicably, on good terms, there is hardly any name-calling and finger-pointing between them. Bolin does not ever bring up that Korra broke his heart by kissing her brother nor that he wanted Korra to apologise much because they went through things that allowed forgiveness and friendship to happen. Ironically, even Bolin and Eska’s breakup and later encounter seemed both comic but also reasonable and realistic. It was apparent that they both have considerably, without a doubt moved on. The way Mako and Korra interact are still as lovers even by the end of Book 4breakup or no breakup they just do, both context and subtext affirms it as a romance with mutually concerted feelings — it’s pretty confusing.
With all the Korrasami and what not tags being interjected I decided I had pretty much had it with Legend of Korra. I was disappointed from Book 3 though I was suspect from the beginning. The way they treated Mako and Boilin was deplorable the way they treated Makorra was horrendous and then how they progressed Korra’s character was deplorable. All of these things were pretty stupid and so sexist (both for men and women) All I can say that I hope fanfictions come about that end these at the very end is one of the only partly unbiased write-ups I had read.
You can celebrate any ship and not celebrating it is not homophobic unless you actively declare that gay couples are bad or something — I don’t do that what I must state here is that this is preposterous and the perpetrators of bad writing and scapegoating a same-sex canon but also annoyingly allowing Makorra to continue is pretty much a bad move. I literally was like WTF? Guess what even I did see the signs I also saw signs of Borra. I saw Boilin like Korra a lot but Korra did not choose Boilin because Boilin is someone Korra can’t be personal with — Mako even till the end was a person Korra could rely on in battle and also in well psychological positions. Asami goes and helps gives Korra support as a cheerleader but she hardly does things to help her much. I mean even if Korrasami happened give it more than just her bring Korra tea (which is a good improvement i respect I admit that and also love, both platonic and romantic, because in Book 1 when Mako wants to give Korra tea she seethes and say bol it himself). Yet it is not so strong enough as Mako keeps on professing love to actually get going. I just feel no one cared about both relationships. As someone said online it is pseudo-lesbian though she was happy because no relationship straight and gay can happen with just flirtations ill scripted and nothing pretty much well fleshed. Many people would say that as it is a gay-ship it needed cover but even Katara and Aang had stronger non-verbal ways of romancing that people may not have deemed cool enough for a coupling. The potential was there but it was not nicely done as even subtle Makorra. In fact I wasn’t even thinking Makorra (though at first I loved them) when the first times Korra looked at the stadium and Mako looked at the island dotingly but that was a good nonverbal gesture they actually well made good use of. All I can say it’s not groundbreaking, it’s actually pretty gender normative and totally unfair to Asami.
All Korra can say is that she dated all the people on Team Avatar what a bunch of crap
Not to mention that she is dating the ex of her ex and what more is that Asami cannot also get out of this viscous love triangle and choose her own road. Pretty much pathetic.
It’s something official for me that Avatar people cannot for the life of them write satisfying romantic endings. First, they somewhat rushed Aang/Katara relationship then they hinted strong at Korrasami but also hinted Makorra. What I want to say is that none of this isgroundbreaking at all for anywhere. Please don’t flame hear me out. They just did to extend a novelty. They did this to make bandwagon people happy. Korra and Asami are so friendly with each other they have less chemistry than Korra did with Boilin. Also, by doing this they essentially showed how the avatar spirit is more or less a “male” spirit.
This sort of thing is frequent in yaoi literature. Korra is a girl and if she is bisexual marvelous but by accentuating the differences between Asami as a “girly-girl” looking person and Korra as a more masculine person they pretty much made the whole relationship heteronormative as usual. If Korra ended up with Kuvira eventually I would have appreciated that even as they are each others’ equals. So is Mako and Korra to many extent. They made Asami pretty much soft and feminine like 90% of the time to complement Korra’s “masculinity” but they also wanted some space for Makorra. I would have respected this relationship more if it was even eventually developed with Jinora as she became older. Because the sort of understanding Jinora had with Korra and Korra had with Mako is pretty elementary in any relationship.
Also, by showing they migrated to the spirit world was also indicative to that “yin | yang” feminine and masculine presence in a heteronormative stance. They won’t ever show Mako as a “feminine” though at many points this season he is and Korra is “masculine”. I realized that it is also pretty cruel to suggest that strong woman can’t be anything aside bi or lesbian — this is pretty common in mainstream culture. Strong men are either made so macho that you have to think them as totally straight and strong women are shown to be either gay or bi or something. Both of these procedures are quite conforming to mainstream tactics.
I love Shoujo-ai and Shounen-ai couples when they make sense. In fact, one of my favouritecouples is Anthy and Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena, both are girls. What I loved about them is that they broke away from their heteronormative practices to be the “one” for each other. In the end, Utena was not a masculine person or feminine person neither was Anthy.
The Korrasami ending was just like Ginny/Harry in Harry Potter — it was poorly executed had no flair and was shoved right at us. This pairing was non-existent and had no bearing until the end as well. Asami hardly knows Korra and they hardly know each other other than friends so I found this relationship so thin. Can I accept it? If it develops more I can but I just don’t see as romantic. Also, it’s just too predictable. It was a cop-out. You know if Emma from Once Upon a Time ended up with Regina that would be more pretty because to me it is a good relationship and also because they have had more actual revelations with each other. This was just lazily written. Also there was no natural chemistry even when Korra and Asami were sitting together at the end and talking about life together.
The only pretty part was how they looked at each other in the end. I seriously still thought that was an over-exaggeration.
Yet this is not to offend Korrasami fans. In fact though I liked Makorra I will be honest — if they executed Korrasami better and dropped all those heteronormative markers like they did with an anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena I would be very, very , very happy. But they totally messed it up. Also, I had a feeling that after Book 3 they wanted a new male character to be Korra;ss love interest it was kinda showy of that but then decided on Korrasami at the end. It pretty much looked like that.
This is just me showing how Korrasami made no sense. It was literally just a deux ex machina that Bryke put at the end because he had to make fans happy some way.
Yup, Avatar series can’t write good love stories.
I wrote this and I know it is important concerning how biased and well sequestered all LOK ship fandoms are:
I can see that there is a collective immaturity or even ferocity in shipping in LOK that was not so prominent in TLA and not so prominent in many fandoms. I think this is also due to ages of people participating and also ages of the shows. I mean Naruto came to an end but many fans were not rabid about their disappointments nor were they gloating. It was show that stayed around for a long time.
Makorra fans are acting too angry, understandably, but still very badly executed. Korrasami fans are using this to validate themselves, be mean to Makorra fans and basically annotate every Korra/Asami scene into Korrasami which even Borra and Makorra fans can’t do because there was good development at times so no need.
This culture of ships and shipwrecking is very toxic. I mean do not just like a fandom ‘cause it;s cute like it because it has substance, Like other fandoms that are not your OTP also for that think on it and don’t hate easily. I can see that many shippers are young people and also as this LOK is younger and had lesser episodes than TLA people in scarcity of time, episodes, space and writing decide to exaggerate or expunge things.
Please be respectful. Makorra and Korrasami are pretty much both canon. Korrasami is about to happen (or not fully) and Makorra happened and might continue (or never again) both even in the end Korra showed signs of both interest in Mako and also in Asami. Maybe, as she is exploring herself she wants to see who she can fall in love with truly as her OTP.
No need to say a pairing validates you or not because I think if you are gay or straight your relationships are better than how both these ships were written. Also look at Korra and Mako and Asami as characters independent of these relationships.
I also wrote this:
I think Korrasami is also a revenge of Bryk against studio and Nickelodeon. It just feels like they wanted to say “fuck you” to the studios that always tore apart their ideas, made them cancel, made them fire crew members, make them cut out things. I do not know if the Korrasami kissing alternative ending is the original endings but apparently that was changed. In all honestly Bryke is killing two birds with one stone: making fans happy and also giving a hell lot of trouble with those studios. This make good sense as they cannot work on Avatar soon and I think it is also because of those suidio problems mostly. I feel bad for whatever Avatar endured. Korrasami assuages the pain for them in a way but it also shows how all their creativity to even make both Makorra a bit work better and Korrasami a bit written better was thwarted. What problems LOK had to face.
honestly I’ve clearly offended a lot of people, but I’m not sorry. No matter how you look at this, this was bad writing, bad writing for makorra, bad writing for korrasami, bad writing just in general for korra and all these characters, and this is how the show ended. I’ve been here since 2012 defending this show throughout all the crap and now there’s nothing left so, especially knowing they changed the ending….yeah I’m going to be upset.
Not many. Not so standardized as the mainstream way of looking at it. It is heteronormative. By making Asami pretty much a bimbo throughout the series and Korra a jock is heteronormative be it a straight or gay representation. They didn’t do that with Aang and Katara. Katara is a very balanced person and so is Aang. Also they have both similarity and differences.. Guess what they are both benders, both spiritually inclined elements (air and water) both at the end stronger people with each other and also independently. You do not see this with Korra and Asami it recycles the same bogus trifle that Mako and Korra was accused of sprouting. Just some sentimental hugs. Asami is not integral to Korra’s development as an Avatar as much as Mako was in Books 1, 2 and even 3. Nor was she there so much before Book 4 in the development of her personhood. It is a very badly executed relationship like Makorra. They just want people of the young generation who never knew mainstream homoerotica squeal over this. It is stupid to think people are that simplistic. Once I remember that a guy commented how a villain of Final Fantasy X-2’s dress was so hot and a girl commented that it makes her look like a herpes infected hooker. As a stereotypical response he said that maybe as she is a girl so she is saying that. Then that girl said that she was bisexual girl and implying so she knows female sexiness. Korrasami should have been better written if it was to be canon. Not mitigated into something typically expected. A girl with muscles, masculine girl, is usually depicted to be queer for all the wrong reasons just like an effeminate man is. These are tropes that persist so nothing innovative was done with Korra. She as a “male” spirit bounded with a female spirit. If it was better written I would have no complaints. I wanted Katara to end up with Zuko but easily accepted her with Aang because they were not lazy, they wrote very well how a crush became a love. This is lazy writing. You like it that’s great I would have loved it if they didn’t put in mainsteam cultural biases of how same-sex couples are like.
I don’t hate Korrasami. I hate how all relationships was written in LOK. It was stupid. A canon lesbian relationship needs to be beautifully written not so “oh I hug you and you hug back” — Asami was pretty much a effeminate bimbo. I hated how they wrote her. Here best action scenes were in Book 1 and 2 then went downhill. Korrasami the way it was written is the stereotypical way of writing or looking at female/female relationship with one “masculine” and “feminine”. Korra may have told her insecurities to Asami but this was not stressed (or developed) what was stressed is that Korra is looked at as a “man”. People cannot write any relationship nowadays without a heteronormative circuit be it straight or gay. That is what got to me. I would have loved Korrasami if it was not so rushed and written with the same care as Kataraang was written. It was written badly. I am happy if you shipped them because I am always happy if a shipper’s couple becomes canon regardless of it was mine or not. But it was a cop-out as in how it was written. Because of that they also did not completly extinguish Makorra. Mako and Korra still have chemistry. Mako loves Korra still (she does too) and possibly is thinking of courting her in future. Which is kind of sad. That they don’t know what to write. This sort of bullshit is not new think of Cloud from FF7 and you get the same results Korrasami should have more intricately written because if it is to be the canon relationship the writers should show it better.
Apparently, not as much as you. Firstly, speak properly. By being so thoroughly aggressive you allow discussions to go nowhere. You can tell me what you love about Korrasami aside the generic “cute” slogan. Secondly, stop being overly sarcastic with people who do not agree with you. There is nothing “wrong” about a pairing like Korrasami if it was beautifully executed. It was not. It was a cop-out even at this point if she dated Boilin that would be a cop-out too. If she dated Mako it would partially be a cop-out but Mako has been changing as Boilin. So yeah in the end none of the relationships were balanced. It was lazy storywriting.
It is pretty obvious that that was attempts at bullying but it is true what I said. You want a strong same-sex couple then make Kuvira available even from Book 3 and you get this better. Or write Asami better and then we can appreciate it more. Asami was supposed to be a villain first, then she is a hero but still compared to Sokka and even Suki pretty badly developed and she is basically just a socialite who wears clothes and acts nice.
I don’t know for sure if the kiss ending was the original but apparently the original ending was changed and I think it was either Korra going off by herself or with Mako but to make fans happy these conclusive matter was dashed and to keep spectacles alive.
All the materials above are from tumblr. All I can say is that I thought about them a lot before coming to that conclusion. Korrasami, the way it was depicted, was a gender normative, heteronormative way of looking at a same-sex relationship that conforms to the very gender roles that we assign males and females. Korra is pretty much the yang male spirit and the effeminate Asami is the yin female in the crudest of forms.
It is about a young man named Ritsu Onodera who is painfully shy from romance and any kind of love life. When he was younger he was seemingly betrayed by a older boy he loved and as he was not the social-sort and always a bit timid he resigned to not really be in love.
Unfortunately for Ritsu, the very boy or now man enters into his life ten years later in the Marukawa publishing house’s Shoujo Manga division. This man (boy) is Masamune Takeno who was once known in school as Masamune Saga . They both do not recognise each other, obviously, due to ten years of absence in each other’s lives. Yet Masamune later on looks closely and realises it’s his first love and decidedly declares to a reluctant Ritsu that in a year he will make him confess his love for him again.
Ritsu is obviously 100% annoyed. This man broke his heart and now attempts to be so casually engaged with love again. Apparently, Masamune mentions that it was Ritsu who had done the betrayal and not him. This also confuses Ritsu because Ritsu has no recollection of ever hurting Masamune. Yet Masamune seems interested in not losing Ritsu this time and for establishing love once more.
Can these two stay together or will there be no way to0 resolve what was probably miscommunication and hurt on both ends?
That;s basically the entire show. The worst thing is it is not nicely executed. One will see this show for its beautiful graphic and colour palette, to see some of the inner workings of a manga publishing house, to see lots of snogging between attractive men and the minutiae of life with attractive men. I know I enjoyed those moments.
Did I like the couples or did I care about them?
Fuck not much.
Seriously, I do not want to offend any fans nor do I want to offend the mangaka but this is very badly executed, even if the singular idea of reuniting love or accepting love is not bad.
I was introduced to this series I think when I was looking for titles as such. I took a small break from it but returned to it a year later because I actually liked the character designs and the real-world based setting. So my chagrin lies on the fact that a potentially good story is quite weak in structure be it symmetrical or semi-chaotic.
I admit I liked rewatching the series for its fluff factor which can be just zoned in to moments but I did not particularly care about any of the characters except Ritsu Onodera and Takafumi Yokozawa which is a bit sad as there are many characters so 😄
This isn’t going to be a regular review as it will mostly focus on my personal reflection. It is also going to be LONG and SPOILER FRENZY based on both seasons and the movie.
Despite me not so interested in this anime I can write long about it. I guess I have a lot of opinions on the series. I do like its fluff and that makes it re-watchable but I felt it had more potential that could have easily been extracted and executed yet alas that did not happen. Oh well onwards!
The main couple, Ritsu Onodera and Masamune Saga/Takano are a bunch of incompatible, uninteresting, too-sexualized, too passive-aggressive, non-flirtatious, non-talkative, stalemate (checkmate), misunderstanding, extremely poor communication bunch of lovers you could see. Their singular spark comes alive in really off-hand and pretty much coerced kisses between the two. Yes, and if you know the shounen-ai dichotomy you are well aware that Masamune is Seme and Ritsu is Uke and that the Seme is supposedly the action-taker.
Masamune is a drab guy who somehow thinks that coercively kissing Ritsu is the only way to rekindle what may have been a genuine first love or even a crush. I see most of the action of their youth being taken by Ritsu and also accelerated by Ritsu with only erotic or semi-romantic actions being boredly or even honestly initiated by Masamune, Fast forward 10 years later and Masamune is still kind of a prick who acts all high and mighty.
I can understand that he has a developed a “killer attitude” in the workplace yet with Ritsu he is not as understanding as he should be nor is he tolerable or a person who respects another’s private space. I can understand the separation has instilled in him a desperation that he longs for Ritsu but dude grow up you guys had a huge break and are at a deadly impasse don’t jerk Ritsu about.
What this so-called couple needed was good-old fashioned talk-therapy between each other. I mean even as the anime is expiring and both have kissed each other’s faces off but Ritsu doesn’t know why Masamune thinks he has abandoned him and Masamune shrugs off Ritsu;s complains that he was brusque and insulting to his feelings post-coitus.
In my opinion, Masamune is a culprit. No matter how you look at it you saw that Ritsu is a mild mannered person and anti-social. Laughing like that after sex when Ritsu asked him did he really love him and not affirming his belief is actually a very nasty thing to do. Obviously, a sheltered and even looking like a bullied person, Ritsu would think that Masamune is just passing time with him as he does in the library reading (though they did once lock the library and got a bit hot there).
I admit that Ritsu’s escapism is also at fault. If Ritsu just told Masamune straight off that he is being a jerk and he shouldn’t take his feelings lightly even if they are a bit intense I know this whole situation was avoidable. Yet Masamune did everything to initiate it. Even 10 years later he brushes it off as he was going through a lot then with his parents divorcing and how he was a bit of a punk then but that still doesn’t really excuse him. If he is so keen on wanting and loving Ritsu he should just be there for him and prove his love because all those years back Ritsu did all that so now it’s his turn.
No, he doesn’t do that; the guy just prances around and just sexually harasses Ritsu whenever and wherever hoping that Ritsu will relent. At times Ritsu does and they have weird knocked-out kind of sex that Ritsu either intentionally blocks out or has a hangover and kinda doesn’t remember (O_O :/). Instead of also informing him that he had sex Masamune does the whole you don’t remember speech over and over like they are on some of eternal repeat.
Yeah, it gets that annoying. Not to mention Masamune withhelds information; he is as bad as shoujo-stereotype heroine (as in bodice-ripper) implicitly telly Ritsu that he is not an innocent though obviously Ritsu is sexually still an innocent and quite untainted in his analysis. At the same time he is explicit as a harlequin man doing coercive action hoping it would be similar to affirmative action (I kid you not). Thus he is a merging of two tropes that bring out a bad synergy rather a positive or even tolerable one. Ironically, the best synchronized trope mix is Takafumi Yokozawa who is an ex, friend and colleague of Masamune and also his eventual lover Zen Kirishima (more on that later).
Masamune later on in the movie decidedly and finally apologises to Takafumi for in a way jerking him around. In some ways Masamune blinds himself of the dedication that Yokozawa puts on him. In my opinion, Yokozawa first two TV series is a complete asshole. It also doesn’t help that Ritsu becomes too passive about him. I understand Ritsu’s reluctance to have a verbal spat with a company senior but a few choiced remarks would have been helpful especially at one time Masamune points out (coming to the rescue) that Yokozawa deliberately did not pay attention to Ritsu’s work. Not that he pulled the classical jealous bitch and sabotaged it he just didn’t give it the attention it deserved.
Yokozawa lashes out at Ritsu because during university years Masamune was a wreck not able to cope with anything, becoming devoid of everything around him and naturally he blames Ritsu’s sudden disappearance from Masamune’s life as the sole cause to his psychological breakdown. Masamune does not especially since we see in the last episode of the 2nd TV series that Masamune’s parents were pretty negligent about him and also they were on the turn for a nasty divorce.
Yet Yokozawa thinking Ritsu is Masamune’s kryptonite is not abnormal nor unfair though his treatment of Ritsu is pretty unfair. Takafumi thinks that Ritsu is like a tease who specialises in breaking hearts which is a far cry from who Ritsu Onodera is. Not to forget that Masamune doesn’t really translate Ritsu as Ritsu as in he admits that Ritsu has changed a bit 10 years so Ritsu has obviously matured so he doesn’t know him much anymore. This “stranger” attitude is how Masamune handles the Yokozawa-Onodera situation though he deeply suspects that Yokozawa is being a bitch to him. Takano does not really blast Takafumi much for being a bully to Ritsu which is also something I hated.
That is why Masamune is such an incompetent lover. Aside his kissing vibes and actions he hardly understands Ritsu nor is engaged to Ritsu as a person. The mangaka just treats these people as instruments of romance rather than actual invested lovers. I read in wikipedia that Shungiku Nakamura actually wrote Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi as a spin-off to Junjou Romantica which I am partially familiar with. Nakamura may have just treated this as a pet project or something because to me it is not the best first lobe in the world <sweat drop> On the contrary it trivializes the precepts and concepts, of love and romance to a certain degree though to give it credit it has a few gem moments.
My favourite character is Ritsu Onodera. As a character he is the best written one in this series. Though a traditional uke in some design blueprints and precepts of personality he is ambitious, non-conformist at some turns, not a belligerent hardass nor a complete doormat. In reality he is more fiercer than Takafumi and Masamune.
This young man of 25 has more spunk and direction than the 27 year old annoying git Masamune. Ritsu has an impressive family history in the publishing industry but decides to just escape from it. Masamune does say one valuable thing: your lineage is just a surplus, a little ladder that gave a small boost it isn’t you in your entirety and it won’t qualify you or your work if you don’t understand or are conscientious. That is the most valuable gem in the series and Ritsu is a living embodiment of it.
Ritsu would have better in a shounen anime or another drama where he is bisexual or a thought experiment of an anime. This is my own personal thing but I can easily visualize him in a university drama like Honey and Clover or a male model in Paradise Kiss who is Yukari’s classmate/lover/friend. I can imagine him as a ninja in Naruto or a detective in Death Note or even Misa Amane’s co-star who is rightly suspect and discovers things about her. I can even imagine him as Prince Tutu, and extension of Princess Tutu. Or even as a cast of Free! or Haikyuu!! Yes, I can imagine him like this because Ritsu Onodera is so beautifully delicate and strong, such a large potential of attributes and personality with a repertoire of diligence and finesse that I seriously think he is wasted as just the love of a guy named Masamune Saga/Takano.
This is honestly my opinion. I think in all those incarnations he would work in publishing because he has a literary and artistic talent that is quite beautifully presented if not wholly fleshed out. Yet he can work on other things I can see that capacity for it. Masamune, on the other hand, can be the archetype seme and just be that; his character is narrow and static. Ritsu’s is not.
I was not happy with Season/Book 3 and I was hoping that Korra Book 4 would be better. So far, it is. It is asking integral questions about authority and also how misshapen and totalitarian authority can be when power is not rightly exercised.
As fans has suspected Kuvira from Book 3 is the main antagonist of this Book. Like Ozai and also Hyoung-Ting, Unalaq and Amon (won’t include Zaheer as he was not trying to be leader rather just get rid of the Avatar), Kuvira has become corrupt with power. In so far that she is now exiled from the Metal City of Zang Fu (I think that was what it was called) and is trying to reunite the Earth Kingdom and being labeled as “The Great Uniter” by her supporters and enemies alike, both with admiration and disdain.
This is shown in Episode 1 titled “After all these Years” which is taking place after three years of the Book 3 climax. A lot has happened, Republic City has finally accepted Spirits and the Spirit Wilds are flourishing with a good coexistence (we also see the homeless guy that Korra met on the very first episode make good friends with many; funny that he is still homeless right though?) . Asami has become a person charged with a trans territory rail line construction which she successfully completes that allows Ba Sing Se and Republic City have constant travels. She is hit on by Prince Wu whose Aunt was Hyoung-Ting and though he is not as eccentric as his aunt he is as prideful and foolish. Mako is ordered to be his bodyguard and this is a job that he wants desperately to get out off though does properly (though by the penultimate moments of this episode we hear that Wu wants Mako too much to be his bodyguard and personal relations to be secured doesn’t allow Mako to get out of it).
The Air Nomad are now dressed differently. Their clothes now accentuate a wandering nomadic aerial mobile design as in acrobatic with gliders attached to their clothes like stunt performers. Kai has grown up and is in a long distant relationship with Jinora and Opal with Boilin. Boilin has become from comic relief to Earth Kingdom soldier, so has Varrick and Ju-li. Batar, Opal’s oldest brother is engaged with Kuvira, which is also a cause of family friction. Opal thinks Batar and Kuvira has betrayed her mom. If you guys recall Suyin was anti-monarchy all the way and now her own are beelining for it — not a good situation.
Opal and Kai has come to aid a kingdom that are being attacked by robbers. Ever since Zaheer killed Hyoung-Ting we saw Ba Sing Se in chaos and now still some remnants remain. Opal and Kai are not warmly greeted as the village leader wanted more recruits but they show themselves capable of administrative fair ways of solving a situation. This is antithetical to Kuvira who has a lot of authoritative power. She captures a bunch of bandits by putting metal around their arms eyes and feet then bundling them up as heavy sacks (how Nowatak and Torlak were shown to abuse wolves in Book One). Then when one of the bandits try to apologize she even seals her mouth with metal. Then she says the only way they can save themselves is by relinquishing this lifestyle and just opt to join her. The bandits, fearing for their lives, do as they are told. Kuvira smiles that despot’s smile of triumph.
Then she attempts to bully the village leader into signing a contract of protection (like Yakuza and Mafia and dirty politicians do) saying that she will help them with food, water and troops only if he supports her. There is a campaign for her also by many people who want her as new Earth Queen and not Prince Wu (leading to a humourous pie in the face in crowd where Mako saves the dude and reminds him, while he gasps, that he is allergic to bee stings not strawberry). The village leader rejects her offer.
There is a gulf between Opal and Boilin because of this. Opal is angry at her brother and Kuvira for ditching her mother, the matriarch of the steel clan and also going so far out away from all the clan stood for (and then suddenly hearing they are engaged made her angry). She does not like Boi8lin helping Kuvira but Boilin believes reuniting and helping the Earth Kingdom is his calling. Then Opal and Kai attempt to get supplies but they are stolen by robbers (bet Kuvira was behind that) prompting the village to sign the contract making Opal become more frustrated and Boilin more confused.
The end shocks everyone. Everyone thinks after three years Korra is finally making a full recovery reappearance to Republic City. Tonrak is surprised and says that Korra has been writing for six months from Republic City and that she is okay and doing well.
So, where is Korra?
Hair cut short. Using only one bending style. Earth. And Wearing green clothes of the Earth Kingdom she is fighting in a cage match of sorts with another woman but loses. The owner comes and angrily gives her due but of course says she lost him some. Then remarking that she loves “like that Avatar girl” and what happened to her. Korra truthfully answers she doesn’t know.
While in episode we see the ravages of power and totalitarian that Zaheer and even Amon was afraid of (yeah their execution was batshit crazy but not all their ideas were) we also see the vulnerabilities and caustic repercussions that comes through poverty. The fact that in three years no one is really helping these villages is sad.
Also while Kuvira is getting mentally and physically strong, psychologically preparing herself for power, authority and the confidence she is earning in getting a chance to be Queen — Korra has lost a lot of Avatar qualities and is now shown to be unstable and weak. I think this is why they decided to pair off two women in the end as a form of acceptable dichotomy. After all all the main villains has been male and she defeated all of them but none of them were once her protector and comrade but now this one is. This fight I think is going to be the most important and difficult fight that Korra will ever fight as both the Avatar and Korra.
This is where, if the series pulls it off, LOK is going to be more mature than TLA. Yes for once they got some stuff down after Book 2 right. Yes, more mature. Because Balance isn’t about I think learning any new bending or just making a tyrant pay for their crimes. It’s about Korra keeping her title, spirit, selfhood, body and soul intact, focused, preserved, synchronized and finally evolved. Because all the battle she is fought now has attacked her personhood in these ways and it has made her break — Kuvira may do more damage than all three guys combined. How will Korra survive this? Will she herself break the Avatar chain to show that people can make hope for the future without avatars? I am actually excited to see what happens.
That is why the episode 2 is rightly called “Korra Alone” (a nod to ATLA’s “Zuko Alone”) and like Zuko who decides to travel alone to reclaim his title and earn it as noble, just prince of the Fire Nation Korra too now reclaim herself and also earn her Avatar title. Korra’s body is so badly undone after the poison that she can’t walk and she can’t properly eat or sleep. Her mother becomes rightly worried and says though they had agreed not to interfere with her recuperation she is not getting better so she must go and visit Katara.
It is a grueling process of recovery with Katara. She gets frustrated but when after six months of physical therapy at least allows her to walk she decides to go off to Republic City because she wants to be Avatar again. Actually, she first loses with fire benders in a training (a nod to first season’s first episode where she was able to completely take each and every one out) then on her journeying she loses to common bending thieves (a far cry from Book One Korra who takes on Triple Threats and actually throws a fire bender throw a store’s glass window). Not to mention what also gets to her is that Tenzin thinks that she should not be ashamed of her convalescence but Korra isn’t used to feeling weak. Unlike Aang who fostered a sense of vulnerability losing his culture, kin, fellow benders (which Katara mentions as a sense of spirit uplifting so Korra can finish her therapy) Korra has been strong o entitled to strength so she cannot understand how weak feels.
This was the epiphany I was waiting for the entire Book 3 so I am happy Book 4 delved into it. Korra has been avoidant of her weakness in situations; she tries to forget Amon, Unalaq and even the Red Lotus but she can’t anymore. Korra must acknowledge that she is human and that she has both weakness and strength. She must acknowledge her spirituality. Of course, Korra doesn’t necessarily at first. After losing the fight with bandits she cuts off her hair to sever her ties to Avatar position and throws away her water tribe arm band and decides to fight in underground Earth Kingdom battles. She had tried to meditate in the Spirit World’s tree of time unable to reach Raava. The spirits, a cute yellow and green one especially, wants to help. But Korra refuses. Like Zuko she is used to feeling alone or doing things alone.
This episode was a masterpiece in showing Korra; of all the Books this one episode actually did a magnificent character sketch on Korra. Who and What she is and feels. Korra thinks by fighting she can reclaim herself and that is where she errs. The spirits have rightly realized that Korra’s problem is spiritual.
Korra’s mind now emits an old, poisoned still long-haired Korra all wild as she was in the end of season 3 and that Korra is winning the battle because she is strong and ruthless with a vengeance. Korra encounters her especially when she is weak or is in horrendous doubt about what to do. And she gets beat up a lot by this chaotic Korra projection.
The yellow and green spirit, disguised as a dog, comes to Korra and growls at the chaotic emittance making Korra realize that this is real. The spirit wants Korra to acknowledge that her problem is spiritual. Then he skillfully if not without a fight with chaos Korra leads her to a periphery between Spirit and Normal world where Korra succumbs to her wounds and collapses. Person who helps her get better as she awakens after some time is none other than an old Toph who affectionately says it’s good to see “Twinkle Toes” again.
This was a very well written episode. I am happy they finally acknowledged that Korra needs a spiritual overhaul. But one thing I think as a fan I notice is that Zaheer is not really her only “mad man” that enabled a weakened Korra. All her opponents till now has gotten through to Korra in a bad way. In this way I think LOK is more mature than TLA because Ozai did not feel so personal to Aang as all these villains were. Now I wanna see how Kuvira and Korra fight.
It was nice what Katara said to Korra during her therapy that she doesn’t know what is beyond the pain but wouldn’t it be interesting to know?
Korra now must become a balance of both her as a person and Avatar and to do that she must be united in mind, body and spirit. And maybe then in the end she might be the last Avatar. The world’s balance might be decided as a new era of people being people and the Avatar cycle coming to a fruitful and good end.
You know when I saw Fushigi Yuugi what made me like it? Yeah Miaka got a guy kinda easy, unrealistic there, but her love was never smooth sailing — Tamahome and her had lost of tame but crucial arguments and didn’t just go out on flirting first they knew each other as people before they fell in love. This was beautifully contrasted in Yui who just was attracted to Tamahome and she was the perfection “anti-otome” symbol of the show. This is also done in a Shounen anime where in Rurouni Kenshin Kaoru and Kenshin are also not on each others’ kimonos and the attraction “anti-otomo” symbol was Megumi who was very attracted to Kenshin but well it was always made clear that her feelings are like a little cough compared to the entire respiratory that was in between Kenshin and Kaoru.
Now Seth Adam Smith may be a Christian dude and we may not have much in common but his article actually made a lot of sense. Don’t trust me, read on:
Our society places a lot of emphasis on feelings. We are taught that we should always follow our feelings and do whatever makes us happy. But feelings are very fickle and fleeting. Real love, on the other hand, is like the north star in the storms of life; it is constant, sure, and true. Whenever we’re lost and confused we can find strength in the love that we have chosen…
Love is so much more than some random, euphoric feeling. And real love isn’t always fluffy, cute, and cuddly. More often than not, real love has its sleeves rolled up, dirt and grime smeared on its arms, and sweat dripping down its forehead. Real love asks us to do hard things—to forgive one another, to support each other’s dreams, to comfort in times of grief, or to care for family. Real love isn’t easy—and it’s nothing like the wedding day—but it’s far more meaningful and wonderful.
Yeah, real love is not supposed to be just cuddles and kick (that’s a good title for an otome XD) it supposed to have something in it that can be worked out. All those animes of old 80s and 90s actually tried to “make love” as in more meaningful than sex or even kissing or seduction and it worked. Nowadays characters fall for each other because they are “pretty”, “hot” or “cute” Hell Rurouni Kenshin is a shounen anime and Kenshin is not the sexiest guy (though to me he is) in the show apparently Hiko, his teacher holds more candles and so does Aoshi and Sanosuke. Kaoru is considerably less attracted than Megumi even Yumi but their love makes heart throb. Miaka is less attractive than Yui and also Tamahome is not attractive than Hotohori or even the villain Nakago but their love is real and that what also made those works masterpieces.
So, I wish that today’s market also looks at these things. Yes I know that otome is also for fun but you see this mentality in all shows I mean seriously in both Log Horizon, Sword Art Online, etcetera that couples fall in love way too easily or the girl or guy character is a “type” that must be fallen in love with. I also saw this Blood-C where the antagonist was rooted for as a great person because he did so much for Saya. Hello, no, he did those things because he was selfish and wanted Saya to change — on the contrary Blood + had Haji and Saya going through a lot then thry became love not some selfish guy trying to change someone or kill others just to see if his love can be experimentally come true. Which is the lousiest. So fail Blood -C compared to Blood + and guess what many love stories nowadays fail even the sort of actual cuteness of Goku and ChiChi or Bulma and Vegeta.
So, yeah love, real love takes both effort and the cuddles so yeah writers write more substantial things again 🙂
Watched Free’s ending last week. It was enjoyable though nothing really new. Haruka Nanase did exactly what was expected of him. I am happy he did not forfeit swimming, though I hoped he approached it his way more. After having an epiphany abroad in Australia with Rin’s foster parents and Rin he decided to pursue swimming professionally. Now he knows the world is bigger. Now he does care about timings and competitions. I am happy he wasn’t resistant. Just displeased that he let go off his awkwardness with these elements of professional swimming so easily. I am not saying he should’ve quit but Haru’s originality is that he loves swimming for swimming so he should still focus on that and additionally include the professional factors. As he mentioned he is not like Rin. Which makes sense. Rin is always attempting to best at the usual way. Haruka does not. That is understandable. That is distinctive of them and that integrity should be kept.
Makoto and Haruka are back to being good though Makoto’s passivity is so annoying at times. Look green eyed pretty stop acting like a simpleton. You and Haru had a fight. You were attempting to be a good friend but Haru snapped at you it’s okay to be mad at him. So, be angry. Makoto’s impassive nature at this got me really annoyed. It is inhuman to make him Haruka’s emotional punching bag. Though Thank God Haruka realized that he acted like a bitch to Makoto and genuinely apologized. Makoto decided not to become a professional swimmer and went to university instead. That was okay though. The series does focus on Rin and Haruka and Haruka as the swimmers.
Apparently, as I learned from tumblr, missed it in episode, Rin swims for Australia now and Haruka Japan. Nagisa, Rei and Gou attract new members for the high school team after Makoto and Haru graduate and well they get 6th place in Nationals. It is the standard ending. All happy but not so bad.
The episode ends with the sign “For the Future” as Haruka and Rin face each other off in a swimming competition some time later. It is not a large time lapse they dont look older. It is probablyb just a year or so later.
How did I find the series? Well it was a good sequel. It got better than its 1st TV series and polished on Haruka’s character growth, mental breakdown and eventual confidence. It actually did focus on other characters’ confidences too. If 1st TV series theme was friendships and team spirit this Eternal Summer was focused on personal bonds and confidence. Though fans rightly were on annoyed (as seen in Tumblr) that Sousuke’s aftermath was not revealed much. We now know that Sousuke can’t swim professionally as he has injured his arm. His swimming dream ended but there is no mention of any other dreams.
For a show that shows a former swimsuit model getting a new dream as a teacher that was pretty unfair. Well, no one aside Goro Sensei got to know about Ama Sensei either. That was I think the only enigma they preserved or just ignored to address.
So, is this the end of Free? Will we see another TV series or movie to show how Haruka and Rin managed as professional swimmers. Or a new Free with a new cast that are in Iwatobi swim team with our old main cast as their teachers or mentors now? Well, Free ended pretty much to everyone’s tastes being satisfied. I do hope another series of it comes out with a bit more tricky, out of norm ideas.
Make no mistake, Kuroshitsuji is Ciel’s story in every sense. Sebastian is a co-lead, certainly, but his role here is more or less written – it’s Ciel’s which continues to write itself as the story progresses. I’ve said this before, but Kuroshitsuji is primarily a tale of victimization. It splits the world into two camps, victims and those who exploit them, and in most cases it’s pretty easy to tell which group each character belongs to. And when characters try to claw their way from the first group into the second, we invariably get tragedy – tragedy like the story of the Noah’s Ark orphans. There can be no doubt that they were victims of society’s cruelty (this episode alone reveals the full extent) yet they made victims out of scores of other children thinking it was the toll required to stop being victims themselves
Another anime review of Kuroshitsuji Circus Hen by Lostinanime so I thought I would share 🙂
As usual this post will be MAJOR SPOILER inducing and will SPOILERS for all Kuroshitsuji media like 1st TV series, manga, and 2nd TV series with the new series which is actually an extension of the first TV series story-line in both manga and anime.
I know I didn’t do a whole series review. It will take time for me to do that. I was on vacation last week and I hadn’t properly seen the whole 10 episode series of this story arc yet. Those of you who know Kuroshitsuji know that Circus Hen or that Book of Circus is one of the most crucial story arcs in the Kuroshitsuji main manga and anime. The manga is not finished yet but this is one of the most riveting, dark, sad and alarmingly unpleasant story arcs in the main story line. I give Yana Toboso props for writing this arc because I think it was not easy for her. Also, this non-ease is illustrated by being introduced to so-called “antagonists” that many fans of the series and also manga had grown to love and also empathize with. Though we had this already with Madam Red I think it got exponentially bigger with the Noah’s Ark Circus troupe.
I am not really telling the story of Circus Hen because it is available in full form in Kuroshitsuji Wiki and also a good synopsis is available in Wikipedia. Let me just say the Circus Hen introduces some characters who unfortunately do not stay with us in the long run and some others who are better off dead and buried under tons and tons of brick. Others I know I will miss a lot like really a lot because they are the embodiment of a form of nobility you don’t inherit. Basically it is a mission Phantomhive is handed that elucidates and exposes that Ciel underwent when he was 10 and a weirdass fetishist guy called Baron Kelvin who wants something that only Ciel can give (apparently at the end he can’t). The Circus, Noah’s Ark Circus, is made up of people like Joker, Beast, Jumbo, Doll, Dagger, etc who are kidnapping children for Baron Kelvin. It also introduces another fetishist called the Doctor who is severely and disturbingly into body modification. All these characters save Snake die brutal deaths. Joker and Doll, in my opinion, really did not deserve them because they are really good people who got stuck with the bad lot. I know the others are not bad people either but the high wire trope were becoming too systematized into killing and hurting so it’s not that they deserved death (I am never gonna be a fit person to say anyone fictional or otherwise did though some atrocious individuals are unanimously agreed by fans that they are better off rotting) but I think as they died in battle with Phantomhive’s army (his other servants) it was just the situation that made their deaths acceptable enough. I do feel bad for both of them as to me both parties were used as pawns rather than individuals. That was the most painful bit for me. I think if all of them, Phatomhive’s army and the Circus troupe, got together they would know how similar they were.
I think there are 2 reasons why the first adaptation did not have this story included with the canon first TV series (not that 2nd series is not canon but the 1st is actually more manga involved and follows the Toboso’s original stories pretty much on the dot). First, it is technicality. Book of Circus is an arc that has more spoilers than many arcs, and it is very long (this series had 10 episodes devoted to it). If you want a viewing audience to want suspense at what happened or going to happen to Ciel Book of Circus is too telling in a way. It also elevated the Undertaker’s role more than previously shown (which I really liked) and depicted a lot that could not be shown in the first anime TV series. It would probably lengthen the 26 episode structure and I think as that is the standard anime set the producers decided why not. Also as the manga is not even finished now it wasn’t the right choice to put so much information in.
I think the second reason is more important. Book of Circus shows a very nasty and bad side of Ciel. In fact many people hated Ciel’s behaviour in Circus Hen where he is culpable for mass murder, emotional manipulation and blackmail of a more or less an innocent and does pretty much malicious things. In the first TV series Ciel was depicted almost as a textbook victim and a classic apathetic type individual who due to facing torture and losing so much (mostly his childhood innocence) was molded into more or less a cold, calculating coerced adult sort of creature who did not truly like himself or what he did but managed to survive on some form of idea concerning getting revenge. His childishness remained, however, as he never truly suspected the Queen, the person he followed, to be the very person responsible for the crimes committed against him.
Ciel is very aloof and cold in Circus Hen and no one really questions him because no one really knows him and Sebastian is not really a type to question; as a demon, like Ryuk the Shinigami in Death Note, his task is to be amused and help Ciel accomplish his goals. Those goals are limited but that is what Toboso unknowingly perhaps shows — demons are more limited creatures than humans. True, Sebastian is physically very strong and has lot of finesse and skill but as he is a demon he is always contract bound and has to be loyal to Ciel without much question. Ciel is very detached in Circus Hen and this is how Toboso shows the nature of his abused self and his fears and terrors. As I never read the manga I did not know that Ciel had a great aversion for blood due to being always around it and bathed in his own when he was sold as a “pet” to a perverse cult that enjoyed sadism performed on children. But in Circus Hen anime it is horribly shown that any form of bloodiness really upsets Ciel. Also it was mentioned by fans who read the manga that Ciel hated being touched also because what the cult did. And he also suffers from asthma. We see all of these in Circus Hen anime adaptation.
It is a good thing that Circus Hen was adapted later (for me it’s ok either way) because Circus Hen is actually a very weighty and dark arc in the series and as many fans disliked what Ciel did that reaction was a reason that people promoting the anime series would want it excluded so that when people see in development that Ciel does grow it would be easier to digest. Actually from what I read from fans in a forum Ciel does visually regret his actions in Circus Hen as in later chapters he is shown to be more quiet and reserved and somewhat shaken. I think the first TV series was also aimed with making Ciel and Sebastian more consistent in the usual anime fair from what I read on fans reaction on the manga it is not always like that in the anime as Ciel and Sebastian do act a bit more erratically there. Circus Hen adaptation did however bring some manga bones into the story because apparently Sebastian is always teasing Ciel and making even at times condescending remarks at him which is very absent in the 1st TV series and also 2nd TV series (with the 2nd series much had happened so Sebastian probably thought it wiser to keep his mouth shut).
But in this anime finale Ciel has another minor breakdown and Sebastian really can’t soothe him (it seems demons do not know basic human behaviour as shown at how Sebastian was a bad cook when he started working for Ciel as human taste alluded him so he had learn what it might be). The first breakdown in Ciel is deviating from what the Queen ordered him to do which also made fans and me to a certain degree angry and kinda disappointed — he decides to burn all the children kidnapped by the circus and Kelvin mansion as he could not see his old torture chamber replicated. This was done with the breaking point of Kelvin’s Doctor started replicating the torture he faced on another child (in an earlier episode of this series it was shown that she was a flower girl that was kidnapped; it was very sad seeing her cheerful and laughing face become well dull, automaton lifeless. I seriously wondered what happened to these poor children). Ciel could not bear it any longer. Seeing all of these brought the 13 year old back to his memories when he was tortured and almost left for dead when he was 10 by a cult who really were a bunch of fuckers that should rot in hell. Sebastian as a demon loves debilitation and destruction so he only mentions once that Ciel is deviating from what the Queen had ordered so but then Ciel persists in using his pentagram seal that he wants this and Sebastian is contract bound, well the demon puts the place on fire and does what he is told.
Ciel later after everything is over mentions that he was totally broken when was stabbed and tortured on the slab (the same thing that happened to the flower girl in Episode 9) pretty much indicating that this was his breaking point again. Ironically, Sebastian seems pretty non-creative or rather wants Ciel to gain his revenge a bit by engulfing the manor in flames the same way that Ciel’s own manor was engulfed in flames on his 10th birthday destroying his family and life. Probably, it was to make Ciel forget that he had lost so much but it was pretty generic way to destroy a manor.
This is one of the first times in the Kuroshitsuji media that Sebastian is shown to be useless to Ciel’s actual well being. Truthfully, it is subtly there in every crucial arc. Sebastian really does not know what’s best for Ciel and that is because he is a contract demon so it is not in his nature to know basic emotions and ethics; he may mock them but does not truly know them. Also wanting to eat a soul is never really the best for anyone; I think we can get a universal consensus on that. That is why demons can only approach really abused and depressed individuals who are so muddled that they are not in their right minds when they make contracts such as this. Of course both Ciel and Sebastian have major evolution in the 2nd TV series. Ciel becomes more astute, forgiving and well matured and finally as a demon he feels he can finally escape who he is and actually live a full life (not scream at Sebastian to come devour his soul which was kinda kiddy but yeah I think by doing this the show reminds us that Ciel is still a kid). Though Sebastian still is contract bound and I did not enjoy Ciel being so awful behaved and belligerently teasing Sebastian about it what I did like is that both of them had a definite evolution on who and what they are. It is true by the end of 2nd TV series Ciel had lost all those who was important to him in a way and I felt really sad at the sudden loss of others of him as well but given his life it was obvious that he could not be with them anymore. I think this was also there when he had finished his revenge so maybe Ciel knew that it was impossible for him to keep what he once had but ironically he could have it partly if not all but given that the Queen wanted him dead and all the trials that he faced it was really evident that being Earl Phantomhive was useless. Ciel may have had Elizabeth’s love forever and maybe have married her but yeah he could not keep his title as noble society was against Phantomhive.
Going back to Circus Hen, what fans really hated, as did I, that Ciel ordered Sebastian to kill Doll/Freckles. It is actually the worst thing Ciel ever did in his life. I think he realizes this later because by the 2nd TV series Ciel has become in many ways like Doll by the end. In the manga, I read in Kuroshitsuji Wiki, Ciel is more cruel to Doll. When she arrives seeing the mansion burning she tries to hold Ciel and asked what happened but Ciel pushes her away and I think meanly say that he had killed all her loved ones. In this anime, however, Ciel’s breakdown rage is omitted to show that Ciel is pretty numb and devastated that in his broken state when Doll in rage and sorrow charges head on with a dagger to attack him he just mentions Sebastian indicating that he wants her dead. Of course, he was in Sebastian’s arms all this time. And he admitted to Doll that his Smile persona was a lie and all the emotions associated with it but I deduce that he was partly lying. Like Alois/Jim in the 2nd TV series Ciel is still at that point where he can’t accept genuine affection from people as Toboso had once said about Alois/Jim that it is very hard for an abused and tortured person, downright scary, to see actual and genuine love and warmth. And in his really messed up state he asks Doll to be killed which is very cruel. I did wish that Doll had survived. I really liked her. Maybe, she is still alive? After all we never do see her dead as we see the others. Of course of the main circus crew Snake is the only one who is alive. In the manga Ciel says cruelly that he employs Snake as a butler in his household for a “pet” effect because he never tells Snake that the others are dead. In the anime they didn’t show this as of yet but fans mention that Ciel actually is hiding his real emotions (as usual). Due to his actions he had employed Snake as a form of reprieve because he was responsible of killing the others. A fan mentioned that this may be also he felt excruciating misery for killing Doll for Doll did genuinely care about him. Doll really reminded me of the demon Hannah who became so akin to human and fell deeply in love with Luca and Jim that she just wanted to be a family with them.
I really mourn for Doll and Joker for these characters really got to me. Joker said that he knew he was doing something wrong but he just couldn’t bear poverty and destitution anymore especially for his friends and other children at the workhouse. Nobles make an unfair and discrepant society and then use the manhandled to do their dirty work. Joker is more of a victim than Ciel but like Ciel and Jim they are more alike than each party care to know and acknowledge. Unfortunately, Joker does not really get what happened to Ciel but hearing the Baron finally reveal it, I think he did feel sorry for him but the situation is that that all parties are too acclimatized to their abuse. That is why I got mad that Ciel said indirectly that he killing Joker is nothing personal and that it was natural for him to want to protect what he loved. But the world exists for the sake of stealing and being stolen from, according to Ciel Phantomhive (:/), and that these two sorts of people can only exist, so, it is without any malice that Ciel says he steals their futures now. That is pretty pathetic coming for a guy who made revenge his only goal in life to reclaim some of the dignity he had lost. By saying that Ciel don’t you realize how stupid you are sounding? Then what will living for revenge even accomplish seeing that you are going to, according to your logic, lose your dignity again right for if you steal back something that can again be stolen then why sell your soul to a demon for something like that for even your satiation of it was short lived? Yeah, a kid in adult clothing, a poor tortured kid. By this time Joker is so demoralised that he hardly can question what Ciel has spoken. To be honest, Joker is so much like Ciel in the abused department that I can understand his despair and sadness very much. I think what angered me a lot, but was expected given the situations these individuals faced (and as Jim/Alois also faced), is that Ciel doesn’t recognize that both he and Joker are the same. They were both pawns who were used (Ciel still being used) as an entertainment or tool for those mirthless, lifeless pieces of shit nobles.
I think for Toboso Circus Hen was a treatise to what the abused, mentally, psychologically, emotionally and physically go through. They are so confused, upset and scarred that they do fail to recognize the humanity that they themselves have in others. As I said Toboso wrote beautifully this arc, this is to me the most beautiful arc of the series (aside the Jim/Alois storyline) because by the end of it Ciel has become aware what a flawed and broken individual he really is. Without such an epiphany it would be really difficult for him to start growing up. And as this arc was, as I learned from Kuroshitsuji Wiki or I think some other site, after the Curry Challenge episodes, we do see Ciel gestate a different kind of attitude by the end. In flashbacks, we also see the Jack the Ripper arc where Ciel faces Madam Red — I think aside fandom pleasing the flashback also served as a method to show the levels of Ciel hardening his heart. Sebastian is obviously fascinated that when he mentions that Ciel should not feel sad about Madam Red’s death but Ciel, shocking Sebastian, had said that he was not sad as Madam Red is just like a learning experience (:/) and that she got what was coming to basically. Sebastian becomes really delighted and we are shown a motif with Ciel in what feels like a British style of Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa anyway :)) and the voice over of Sebastian says that Ciel will trample over anyone and everyone,(we are shown pictures of a bloodied and fallen Elizabeth, his army even Prince Soma), to get to his goals and that is also what is beautiful (well to Sebastian) about him.
Ironically, by the 1st TV series and the 2nd TV Series end we see that Ciel did the opposite of everything Sebastian had anticipated. By that time the Great Fire of London was incorporated also to Ciel’s ascension out of the Queen’s trap and live for himself for once. And his aims became almost heroic and selfless because in the end he also did want to stop London from burning down. In the 2nd TV series Ciel does leave to start a new life not reminiscent of his one tied to a duplicitous monarchy. Thus he did everything in a bit of reverse of what he was blinded by at first. Ciel is by the end of the series more attuned to who is and what he wants: he wanted freedom from his abuses and the person in relation to those abuses. His title did still link to that terrible position in which he would always be targeted so he happily resigned it. The Phantomhive name which he wanted to restore actually became meaningless because now he wanted to live solely for his own individuality. That is one of the best charter progress for a person ensnared by abuse and revenge. Circus Hen is one of the aspects that enabled Ciel to think more differently about who and what he is because obviously he felt something strong both in resentment but also empathy about the troupe. They were lost souls like him and maybe that is why it was so hard to actually face them.
Going back, Ciel may have hidden most of his actual feelings concerning Madam Red because in her casket he had repeated affectionately what his father had once told her — that her hair like licorice burning in the sunshine (as seen in the 1st TV series). But going back to Circus Hen this dream of Madam Red is sort of instrumental to the coming events that Ciel will partake in. Ciel shows almost the same exterior regarding the death of the Circus and the children. However, this time he does make a more stable contribution for his actions. I think the anime added and rather elaborated what Toboso wrote because fans were also quite angry (well, I was really disappointed too) about what Ciel said concerning the death of the children. Well, we are shown he is affected by their deaths but as usual decides to be quiet about his feelings — yet looks on an young girl selling oranges whilst getting on a train and says to Sebastian to buy one. This train is going to the workhouse that Joker and the others felt compelled to protect. In the journey Ciel felt that the children would not recover from the strain that they experienced. He felt this as he was once in their position, and on the slab when he was brutally impaled, when he felt completely broken he made that contract with a demon. That was what he felt made him recover as he now had something, someone that his as he puts it “mine” and he was able to work through a recovery. Well, Sebastian was the only demon there. The children were young and would never be normal. Sebastian smiles and says that his deduction is arrogant. Ciel says that though he is arrogant, he is not arrogant enough to believe that he can save those children from what they endured.
Fans were still outraged by this. To be honest that is a pitiful deduction. It is, I think Toboso’s way of showing Ciel as still immature and a very traumatized child, because only a child will focus so deeply that the universe seems to revolve solely around them. Because fans made a right explanation — not all people need the demon contract to survive, not all people would need Ciel to recover and they could do these things on their own. Ciel was acting as a mutilated child when he spoke. Deep inside him his ideals of being noble hero were squashed against a psychological dilemma that didn’t rupture in time (that is why the OVA depicting him as Hamlet is spot on). Of course, the workhouse was not taken care of by Baron Kelvin and it fell to ruin. Seeing this really disturbs and shocks Ciel to the core.
This is when poor Ciel has another breakdown laughing maniacally he says to Sebastian that the troupe was protecting something that did not exist. Vile, stupid and struggling desperately to attain unattainable, that is what Ciel thinks humans are and says so to Sebastian. Who seemingly agrees, but not fully. Ciel’s hat’s ribbon becomes suddenly loose and flutters away in the wind. Sebastian also makes no real attempt to catch it. Both he and Ciel seem confused and befuddled. The black ribbon goes in the air and images of a happy Joker coming and bowing are shown then the rest of the troupe doing their specialties are shown happily together. Ciel looks on, in what feels a mixture mourning and amazement, the gravity of both makes his face cast a shadow, with his lips open, mouth slightly hanging, of something akin impenetrable gloom. Suddenly Doll comes first also dressed in her altered costume of white then all the Noah’s Ark Circus individuals become as they were without their body modifications. True beauty in what they originally were. And Doll also unspoiled by prosthetic tampering runs towards them and is accepted by her family. Sebastian agrees that humans are more complicated than demons. They possess ludicrous dreams, make endless excuses and do a lot of vile things to get what they want or desperately try to get what they want but somehow they can also recover, come back or do something more unexpected than before that is why they are also interesting. As the black ribbon flutters, which suggested the gravity of mourning and it was beautifully done truly, Circus Hen anime ends with Sebastian smiling as he realizes that humans are always interesting.
When Ciel had Sebastian kill Doll/Freckles The Undertaker was nearby. And he chastised Ciel in monologue for his actions. Saying that he has warned Ciel that he must take care of his soul, because everyone is given one. He had told Ciel not to abuse his power time again and again. But he has. And this will be detrimental to no one but Ciel. He will realize what he has lost only after it has been extinguished, when it crumbles and decays. And so The Undertaker rightfully stated that Ciel is his own demise, or rather the path leading to his own demise. Because he decides not to actually think before he does actions (as seen he is completely blank at the moment) and that is why he will lose more and more until he has nothing. Of course, at that moment Ciel did not recognize this. But the end of the 2nd TV series we see that when Ciel is turned into a demon he does realize that he had been undone by no one but himself. It was probably very painful for him to leave everyone behind but he had no other choice anymore. Yet, one think The Undertaker was wrong about that Ciel has now even both as a human and a demon got some enlightenment in his understanding of things. Probably he now knows that his soul is very important and when Sebastian and Ciel jump into the void he does want a more ideal and a more empathetic world and wants it more than anything. And he had seen it, slivers of it, in Jim who he ultimately accepted as an image of his own. An image he won’t ever erase. Jim may also have wanted him to be a demon not only as revenge on Clause and Sebastian choosing Ciel as a favourite dish but also to free Ciel from his contract. Jim is evidence of the great God Given adaptability of humans that demons truly lack.
In Circus Hen I felt really sad that Joker died. Joker is the irreducible protagonist/antagonist of this arc. I really understood why fans love him as I grew him to love him too. His death left a very deep impression on me as characters can do. I felt an inexplicable pain. Seeing his sadness, rage and also helplessness at being used as a pawn and being bled to death was so anguishing for me. Ironically, he is the true noble of all the series combined. Because he was loyal and tried his best to help people but he was guilt stricken at what he had to do because he reluctantly did those things. I think that is why he could not have a love with Beast (on side note: Sebastian having sex with Beast was pretty unexpected and how casually he does not take off much kind of shows that to Sebastian seduction and sex is purely business :P) because she can only think of running away. Joker could not run away. As it shows in his flashback that being in the manor Joker conceives that humans will always be dissatisfied because Dagger looked unhappy though they were not living the gutter anymore. But Dagger wanted to play but was lacking a leg to run about. But then Jumbo helped him up and they could run along and play. We see an intimate moment with Joker and Beast, almost close to touching hands distance, where Joker comments if he hand another arm he could carry her. This line is symbolic for Joker because that is what he is about; he has been carrying the burden and responsibility of all the people who relied on him. That is why he could not reciprocate Beats;s affections because she did not get this about him I assume. She was thinking that they should run away but Joker could not because he was already so intensely involved with his troupe, his family, running away would be a betrayal to them to handle the burdens by themselves. And he was not of a character to do so.
Joker is one of the most heroic characters in the series. I think Ciel becomes almost like him in the end. Joker is truly one of the most memorable characters in the series and I do love him a lot. I love his strength and his redemptive qualities. I love how beautifully deep down he is kind and contemplative, and socially aware. That is why sadly the nursery rhyme of Tom the piper of only being able to play over the hills and far away is associated with him and the Circus. They were not analytical (a fault Ciel too has) that what was happening to them, how their prosthetic were made from the children bones they had abducted how Kelvin gave jackshit about them and how if he had done more he might be able to have peace. I really think if Toboso continued his storyline it would have been beautiful because he is much like a cool protagonist, at times more than Ciel.
This arc really sheds a lot on human apathy and empathy, and it was also a critique of society and social injustice. Toboso really did well writing this arc as it was poignant and something that stays with you. Ciel made a huge mistake by listening to much to the Queen and the Noah’s Ark Circus’s demise is evidence of it. Now he has to pay the price, as The Undertaker stated, for thinking too callously and presumably rationally and not emotionally. And those acquainted with the Kuroshitsuji 1st and 2nd TV series know that he does. Yet he also matures from it. When he sees the black ribbon floating and the Circus troupe Ciel is seized a great sadness. Maybe he realizes then what he had done. After all isn’t his goals also as worthless as what the Circus had>? To protect a house is also his cause and so he too realizes what they would have realized later or more so if they had been introspective that they were being used so their ideals and dreams are better off put somewhere else.
I really loved the ending theme of Circus Hen anime. In some parts Ciel is animated almost with an adultish sort of body or what anime characters 17 and older have (maybe they did try to aesthetically make Ciel look more adult) but the ballad in darkness in a bathtub is a great touch. Over all as an extension of the first series I really loved Circus Hen. One prominent difference about this series compared to 2nd TV series is that it had less shounen-ai which is good in my opinion but it was still there. Not just copious amounts that disturbed the flow. It had all the makings of a great story arc. I do not why they took 4 years to animate it though as the 2nd TV series was in 2010 and we only got OVAs after that. One question:
What is Ciel and Sebastian’s outcome after the 2nd TV series? I am more interested on that. Though Toboso was involved in the 2nd TV series it wasn’t her original idea and according to the Kuroshitsuji Wiki she had mentioned that if the 2nd TV series happened not to pretend that the first didn’t happen and that is what the producers did. The 2nd Tv series is connected to the first and that is how it also progressed.
I am very curious and hopefully God let me watch what happens to Ciel afterwards. C’mon I really want to see what Ciel and Sebastian do after the 2nd TV series so people start animating it already! And hopefully we all get to see it soon! 😀
It’s hard as fuck to dissect otome games or ecchi games and animes so I do give ample credit who can see some slivers of brillainces in these genres (there are some flotsam about)
I think this anime could have had 20 episodes given that it has such a wide range of characters. Does it do well in 12? I will give my own review but I think it can do more. Kiniro no Corda franchise to me stands out as it has an actual appreciation for music classical music and how to play instruments. Unlike Uta no Prince-sama where there are vague and even at times pathetic ways in which a character’s non-existent music sheet is developed Kiniro no Corda actually has the protagonist work to get to some level of genius.
So yeah unlike Kahoko Hino who is so absent in this anime which is supposedly 8 years after her story Kanade is less personality typed but is expressive as The Pantless Anime Blogger expertly noted.
Well, Legend of Korra Season 3 or “Book 3: Change” has finally finished. I feel a sense of relief. Like after a tsunami has decimated something I am a survivor. Kind of like the opening level credit start of Tomb Raider (2013) or as I call it Tomb Raider: Survivor when Lara emerges out of a caving-in tunnel to open skies but wounded, alone and really messed up. Yeah, ironically, Korra must have hated her own season because at the end of “Change” she is very physiologically changed and somewhat psychologically scarred. This season should have been called “Air” or “Return of the Air Nomads” (aka like Star Wars) because the only visible changes are that Air Nation is now coming back and that two individuals are at the crossroads of something big — those two are Korra and Jinora.
As usual this review will be Spoiler heavy weight champion so caution and tread carefully (like how you held SHIFT button in those old Tomb Raider games to cross spiked grounds and not fall off ledges).
This season was, as I mentioned before, the worst season of the Avatar franchise. It had some great concepts but lacked the execution, momentum, clarity and elocution to actually address and tackle the large problems it has been throwing. One of the best things about LOK was that it focused on different conceptual arcs (not side-stories but actual arcs) on the flaws and complications of the world. However, it muddled them like a bad dish served rancid and cold after a sand-storm and blizzard passed and you could feel the icicles and dust in your mouth as you chewed the abomination flaunted as food. I am seriously feeling sorry for the youth and kids of the post-00s and 90s generation because they are given really bad ideological stirrings and told that it’s discourse and analysis of it.
Season 3 was more focused on Jinora and the air benders. Zaheer and the Red Lotus crew of P’Li, Ghazan and Ming-Hua really have no place in the story but to add a temporal dimension to the cast of bending potency meaning that they have accelerated the growth of bending in its subdivisions. Like Zaheer knows how to fly and make air-bound asphyxiation techniques and fog camouflage well, Ghazan knows lava bending, P’Li can combustion bend with her mind and Ming-Hua can do awesome things with water that even challenges her body as she is armless. For a group that yearns a more secure and spiritual base in their actions they sure have been made into bunch of really crude villains. Also unlike Season 2, Korra does not mature with her interactions with them. Rather, the Red Lotus was so useless as even plot phenomenon in this season. They are not necessarily evil. In fact, before they killed Hyou-Ting no one even said “evil” much and the show attempts to force us to accept them as villains by calling them “low life” and “terrorists” reiterating these concepts so vulgarly that it is like total coercion on the producers’ part. Ozai was called king but he was apparently a bad person by his actions and words — no one had to be convinced he was bad through propagandist ways of attempting to seduce our intelligence via coaxing and skillful mind-rape.
When Zaheer finally captures Korra he says he doesn’t want nations or states, or warriors or what-not. The Red Lotus want that people can live peacefully without a symbol of bending or non-bending , or a specificity of nation but rather on hard work, love and integration of people. Yeah, maybe the way he was trying to do that was obscene or too extreme but his ideals are not really warped. We see that his lover P/Li was saved by him from becoming an instrument of battle by a warlord. Yes, for people like them it is difficult living in a consumer driven world where skills are molested by the overarching monarchy and hegemony of power-hungry individuals or collectives. Zaheer, unlike Ozai, truly believed that the Avatar caused pain or rather did more disservice to balance than service. And truthfully, Wan, Roku, Kiyoshi, Aang and Korra all do MESS UP BADLY. They interfere or at times don’t involve themselves in things that causes more damage.
So, yeah I didn’t want The Red Lotus to kill Korra and I do not agree with their methods but they have a good enough reason to want to change social orders and all that. But instead of ever doing anything to talk to them or even see their side Korra just outright attacks them and says really stupid things to them. What also got exacerbated was how the writers made sure that Korra can find no alternatives to actually salvage the situation and make it good. The killing of the earth queen and the riots of Ba Sing Se and the air nation held hostage did nothing to anything. It was obvious that Red Lotus (which is bigger than Zaheer and co.) don’t care about anything besides changing social order and so Korra should have fought them on that regard like she did in Season 2. Yes, her personal self is also intertwined in the fight yet this time it felt that she was just fighting to save herself making the season a very weak portrayal of the term “avatar”.
One can argue that self is very important and that survival of your life is very important. I do agree. I just feel that it was a very messy and unconvincing fight for the narrative cycle of the mythology. It was good to see however that Vaatu has still that modicum of influence of making an avatar lose it as any evil does when you are feeling despair. Basically, Vaatu is like a demonic or devilish Mephistopheles (read Dr. Faustus) who is goading or prompting a human to make wrong choices as in self-destruction so basically Satanic in many ways. I was quite irked that Raava being so endearing and well responsible for the avatar’s well-being can’t help her fight off despair when she really needs it (so much for being a engaging light spirit of principles). This reductionist storytelling is the entire problem of Season 3. Unlike the intensities of Books 1 and 2 Book 3 dabbles on such mediocre methods of storytelling and execution that even Zaheer’s downfall makes no sense. Zaheer was written into the script just so Korra and Jinora can have this bump me up some ladder of hierarchical temporary and flimsy progression.
I do not see any reason for Zaheer to even matter as much as he did. He just didn’t. He was a nada in this series main highlights of introducing other geographical and geo-political locations of the avatar mythological world. This could have been via other ways and Korra traveling had nothing to do with Zaheer. I do not see how this Book was like Legend of Aang/ The Last Airbender in any way. If they were thinking that “Book 1:Water” then yeah there was a lot of metal bending and lava bending and water bending (metal can be a subset of water bending in liquid form and so can lava). But even the journeying was minimalist compared to TLA and also the narration was. Korra didn’t need The Red Lotus because technically and even in many ways The Red Lotus were not really interested in wiping out the Air Nation who after the finale has decided to continue with their nomadic roots but help people of all nations and stop corruption and misuse of power whenever they encounter it. Tenzin does say that unlike their ancestors they will be more involved in worldly affairs. I cannot celebrate this because it is as ambiguous, in a negative sense, as what Zaheer was saying. It was if you think on it.
Exactly how can you combat structuralized and conformed violence and injustices without any creed or code to back you up? Also, The Air Nomads where, as they shown in TLA, the most unwavering and inflexible people alongside the corrupted Fire Nation. In fact, Aang broke that trend. By being more involved but not so much to intrude and by marrying a water bender (he would have married Katara even if there were other airbenders because Aang was like that) and by making a multicultural society that values diversity but keeps cultural influxes and heritages. Aang escaped because the Air Nomads where too disciplined and rigid. They may not have craved power as tbut they did not like different views as no one could do things outside of tradition. They were deeply powered by the rigidity of asceticism. Aang is hardly an ascetic. Aang fell in love, intermixed with other cultures, ate much (not little but with restraint), traveled, learned other cultures and even married another tribe person, Katara. The Air Nomads have to understand that not everyone like traveling or even living an ascetic-lifestyle and that should also be respected. It was because of this that Tenzin had trouble recruiting people in the beginning. True that Air Nomad culture is rooted on more spiritual principles as the Water Tribe and that is quite beautiful but Tenzin was adamant to make sudden large changes in people’s lives. That is hardly fair concerning that most of those people are already scared. The Air Nomads can have different kinds of nomads as real world cultures do have.
Though it would be helpful if the Air Nomads do revise their policies and living accordingly as the Water Tribe and Fire Nation did. The Water tribe is a very flexible culture even if it has its disparages and cultural problems. In Book 2 the Water tribe revised its need to have both incorporeal aspects with corporeal ones. One good thing is that Air Nomads are also adding corporeality with incorporeality too. But like Water Tribe they must review and rethink all the time while keeping core principles. The Water Tribe’s adaptability has always made me love it. From TLA to LOK I have seen that it has gone through many phases and faces but has a natural way to balance itself more or less. The best part was that Korra agreed with Unalaq, not his methods but that the world needs spirits and humans to coexist and thrive. The Air Nomads are still young and thus need to learn how to intermix and adapt.
One point I did not like is that cultural discourse is absent from this timeline. Even within the Earth territory Zao Fu is a fiefdom. No one within the Earth territory challenges the Earth Queen. Suyin with all her metal benders is as useful as rusted steel. Not to mention there is no meeting with delegates of other nations. It is true that Zuko and others shouldn’t just invade another country (because invasion is as anarchic as it sounds; it usually makes things worse. People get displaced because raiding and arresting many cities and structures happen mostly alongside of that) but with all their fame and council powers they can’t even talk or help Ba Sin Se citizens? And what about Raiko too? All these rulers do mostly do things for themselves. They are more interested in trade and commerce than actyal equity amongst people. Nationalism was being properly maintained by even such a wide geographical span as the Earth Kingdom so if there are people like the Red Lotus it would make cultural sense and socially logical because none of these leaders help the non-thriving or the destitute. Republic City and Zao Fu are both quite prosperous but Ba Sing Se was like roadkill. As I mentioned in my previous article it was awful.
My friend and I agreed that by showing Ba Sing Se uprising as “bad” was a big slap on the face on protesters worldwide who stand for humanitarian and equity causes. Yes, it was violent but so was the French Revolution, you know the one that gave birth to modern day Western democracy and democratic legislation. They were suppressed people who were bereft of proper food, homes and also medical and social empowerment of course they would not be gentle and bovine when Hyou-Ting was assassinated. They would go stark mad or even start pillaging. They need assets so that they can have some comfort. Also this is a collective anger and resentment towards the system. They are breaking it by doing these wayward things. They will trash the palace even if some decide not to steal because they will not let the monolith to their suffering stand.
This goes into a discussion on the Red Lotus. It was obvious at the end that Zaheer was an agent of the Red Lotus, his commandeer of sorts but not its head. P’Li, Ghazan and Ming-Hua were equally in power as commandeers as him but they were still just a circuit or rather just a positioning of current affairs within the organization. It was clear that Zaheer is not the main leader and like any loyal agent he just did things with the ideologies he was handed down. And these ideologies or missions is all over the place like a bull going apeshit in a china house. Zaheer first admonishes order and says that the original state of the world is chaos (if one understands even some minor astronomy or mathematics they will know that our nascent or naive view of equilibrium is not how the universe works). It is designed to incorporate both chaos (as in astral bodies hurling amongst each other and supernovae and hypernovae and pulsars and all that hard-boiled ionic bonding and radiation is happening and by God that is the tempo it is designed) and order — yet of course the magnitude in which these are overridden and synthesized it feels pretty chaotic and out of order at how we look at it. So Zaheer is partly right about universe being “chaotic” however does that excuse his large-scale based plans? Not really because that level of “ordered riots” may actually dissolve the positive chaos that the world requires. Is that positive chaos present in all the current nations? No, it is not. Korra can revise laws and work to show solidarity amongst humans and spirits which was her entire reason for keeping spirit portals open which resulted in a great change and that was the return of the airbenders.
Yet when Zaheer captures Korra his ideology is that supreme rulers and nationality only severs human contacts and that people should be free of that kind of nationhood and just love, thrive and protect whom they love without any superficial allegiance hindering them to do so. Zaheer’s ideologies are not farfetched or bad. Yes, as I reiterate his methods are poor and stupid or rather the Red Lotus’s are. But this strengthening social ties and emotional ties doesn’t feel like extreme anarchy or chaos. It’s like the screenwriters had no idea what to define the Red Lotus with so like a headless chicken running around and sporting Kill Bill stylized blood all over the place we are left on both intellectual and personal scarcity. The viewers may be children but they are not dumbshits ok. Neither are the young adults and adults and so that is VERY POOR writing. Not to mention that Lahima’s void is like achieved by Zaheer via losing P’li. That was like putting Lahima, the airbender, as a pretty isolated and socially inept person. So to gain flight you must lose everything that is important to you? It is obvious that Zaheer loved P’li a lot. I would trust that his love is not limited on a temporal plane. So, yeah that makes no sense either. It was just lazy writing.
Change was good with the final two episodes. I liked that Jinora shaved her head and became an airbending master. Though personally I always like Aang and Zuko with hair. I mean the tattos don’t need to be hidden as they are strikingly present on the forehead. Jinora was looking like young Aang as she emerged as young master in the ceremony. This is the first time they had held such an inauguration for a master because last time even Katara did not have such an honour, nor did Sokka and Zuko’s one was less intense. I am happy they have decide to elevate another character so high alongside of the avatar as TLA hardly did that. If they had done this throughout the book I would consider it claiming fully its title name, but hadn’t so there is that. But Jonora seems happy to finally able to take on air nation responsibilities. She is the first air master as Tenzin and she has done all she can to deserve that title (now I guess its Bumi’s turn and the other kids):
One person ascends but another descends a bit. Korra is obviously broken. This Book showed a very psychological and physiological effect on Korra that Aang had faced when attacked by Azula all those years ago. I think people want to think this is Zaheer and the toxins fault. To me it is not really them. The poison has aggravated a situation already present from the time Korra had fought Amon. This is the culmination of all her weaknesses and shortcomings and anxieties amalgamated with the poison’s negative effects. Korra, like Aang but more potently, has realized that she cannot do everything as avatar or with that title. All her hot temper, all her bending and all her gusto can be translated into failures if she has spiritual board or innovative way to pull them together and make them flow. This season had another good point which was carefully fumbled in the fog of things, the interstices of different bendings. Like Suyin taking out the brunt of the poison in Korra as Jinora said tactfully that it was metallic and Suyin did it with liquid metal sort of prowess. Korra does need to learn alternative styles and subsets of bendings (Though Boilin is a lava bender I do want him to try metal bending next).
Her single tear, long and lingering, is both her relief that the Air Nomads have returned and also self-loathing for not being able to fend off for herself and do more than she could. Korra is deeply dissatisfied with herself. It is shown in her face. She is also angry that everyone wants to protect her now or criticize her or wants her as savior because I think she is realizing that she needs top travel and learn more subsets of bending maybe even new bending if necessary. You can see that she is annoyed even by her mother’s maternal affection. She is unable to walk and unable to feel happy. As fans has noticed she is clear VERY DEPRESSED. It is a long time coming PTSD. Culmination of all she faced. Aang also went through this period many times. First after Katara realizes he had abandoned his responsibilities and then when Azula was almost successful in killing him in avatar state. I hope in Book 4 they shows Korra rehabilitation process and if she will learn anything spiritual or rather will she be redefining what an avatar means?
All this time she has used and abused the avatar title and took some refuge or used it as a defense mechanism. Her fighting and conflicts has enabled her to realize that she cannot do that anymore. Her enemies or opponents are strong like her even if they can or cannot bend and she must, like Aang, involve her own self and originality and spirituality into being an avatar that is she not a tradition or a lineage or anything but just her. She needs to focus on what she can learn and also rethink on how she can help The Red Lotus by maybe administrating a new system that helps everyone. Yes, they are portrayed as terrorists and we can say their methodology is extreme but their concepts were tactile and decent and just. Korra must now balance these ideological with the remarkable people with her. She has lost a large chunk of her confidence. Which is good. Because that confidence was cockiness rooted in being an avatar and not understanding or learning new things. So, she can reconstruct for herself an identity and a strength that has more meaning and even reconstruct what it means to be an avatar in her time because she can physically fight all she wants but some battles need to be managed with spirit and dexterity and innovation.
Pretty much Season 3 was a whole pile of messes which only made some substantial things in its last scenes. It really had nothing going for it. I now just want to see Book 4 so that I can see how they make Korra convalesce and return to top form but both spiritually and mentally along with her physicality. In fact, if she learns how to fight without much bending that would be pretty neat too. Yet, that is the problem. I hardly know what half-baked plan these so-called creative team is on with. I guess, I have see it to find out.
P.S. I think Makorra is still canon which is another good thing.
The first time I was watching Legend of Korra Book One I was really thrilled. A female, muscular, taller probably kick-ass avatar — yeah that’s cool! Sign me up!
That was then.
Book One had a lot going for it but the mettle to the crucial spine of the series was suffering a dry spell in creative development and persistence in that development. I am not going to compare this series to Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend Of Aang but I know some points I should. In ATLA there were vast paces to character growth and really beautiful martial arts, accompanied with great themes and not to mention even distinctive only one episode characters. ALOK lacks all of these — ALOT. Yes, it is fun. Yes I loved it in the series premier when Korra was so strong that she grabbbed a firebender and threw him into a shop window. Yes, I loved that she engaged with her love interest from the start. It made sense for young adults to be a bit more upfront about feelings at times. What I did know is that that is all this series was going to amount to.
There are so many flaws in the character of Korra. Yes, I watch the series. Yes, it has some good points and has some continuity but it lacks momentum and it lacks ideas. It has some good originality I will give it that. But it horribly suffers in execution not to mention that Korra is, to some extents, a misogynistic character. She was supposed to be the opposite of Aang that means she was to be more physically inclined than Aang but as Aang I thought that she would, by the end of the penultimate book, learn to be more of a spiritual person. In fact, all of her major challenges and enemies literally challenged her spirit. Her avatar spirit, her own Korra spirit and all that lay between it. I thought she would be matured by now. Instead, she has reverted back to a silly, non-wise, elitist Korra of Book One. Yes, while it may be Book Three Korra has shed the intensity and her wide level of thinking that she acquired in Book Two. Basically, she is being masqueraded as a beautiful muscular air-head. Her physicality is so focused on that I feel it getting on my nerves. A man or woman does not need to have social ideal body types to face sexism. Korra may be modeled after female wrestler types with a spiritual purpose but she is like wrestlers only a visual performance as one critique in Tumblr had pointed out.
Not to mention that Season Three is a pile of messed up garbage in terms of plot execution and even a ready base for the antagonist who has been denatured into just the stereotype mustached villain of old. After Season Two I was expecting more solid bodied and spiritual discourses in the series. Instead we got cheap villains who have a very weak goal and not to mention they are already labelled by fans as terrorists even before they did much because that is how freaking cliched this season is. Amon made you think and so did Unalaq. The Red Lotus have no strength and even their ideology has feels like a child’s endgame. Not to mention naming Zaheer the antagonist an Middle Eastern Arabic and pretty much a Muslim name is very, VERY RACIST.
His other teammates names are also rooted in other religions that are not necessarily Eastern but half Asian or Central Asian origins. They are far more exoticized than the other characters. This Red Lotus wants anarchy. They believe that the White Lotus are fools (to a large extent they are right) for becoming mercenaries rather than do what their original creed and code was. They hate the way some of the leaders run things and mentions even corrupt leaders such as the Earth Queen Hyou-Ting and President of Republic City Raiko who have truthfully failed their citizens. They want to assassinate them. Korra at first tries reasoning with Zaheer saying that he has spirituality and that as a new Airbender he can really help the world. However, Zaheer is adamant. Korra gives up too easily. Zaheer quotes one line by Guru Lahima who is a guy that Zaheer really liked and was an Airbender too and she just shuts up. Freezes actually. I mean, she doesn’t even try. She has seen the hierarchical destruction of Ba Sing Se by the Earth Queen and yet she doesn’t even figure that because of such stern cases of oppression Zaheer may have become attuned to a society without systems. She may be the avatar but she hasn’t seen Ba Sing Se before and known its actual socio-cultural climate. Zaheer does ironically have more experience. Neither did Mako and Boilin who realised, amidst the slums and poverty, that their father may have left the city due to the structured chaos and inequality present in its “rings” like society. Where the upper ring holds the Queen’s court and is surrounded by opulence, by triviality and corruption where food is plenty and not shared with the citizens (in fact when they meet their cousin hawking food it is distinct due to its spoiled and un-fresh character; the food is rotten. French Revolution anyone?). So by trivializing this scene, making it only a comedy and no social conscionability held you are actually making fun of democracy and of people’s right to eat. And ALOK is supposed to be a children’s show originally? It fails as a children’s show and it thinks that young adults are a bunch of dummies smitten only to graphically exoticism and visual pornography. It is low and very patronizing to think that about your viewers especially their fandom and their interests has been catalyst to many decisions you made. So, 1984 defined: television being a cataract and vibe to propagandist modes to even influence in a show that is meant to persevere righteousness and social balance? Yes ALOK becomes like Big Brother silencing the masses to ever question teaching children that questioning or even finding a middle ground between two oppositions is socially and even ethically wrong? Dubbing any dissenters as “terrorists” and then when seeing that fan reaction to the Red Lotus was so favourable that you have Zaheer perform assassination and make hostages out of innocent Airbenders. It feels they are forcing him to be very orthodox old age random villain stuff. They are coercing us to hate Zaheer more potently than we should. It feels very like mechanically done. I have only disinterest in him. The guy is written boringly.
So, anarchy is that? Does even an amount or paucity of research go into ALOK? I use paucity because the research of this topic feels non-existent. The villain, reduced to some bad gestures, is an archetype that in a semi-postmodernist era of television or even on a postmodernist scale that most innovative writers and shows are attempting to debunk, to leave leaving that cocoon and just attempting to transport and do a small journey if necessary. Neither does Zaheer or any of his teammates have this. Unfortunately, neither does Korra. Her narrative is very feminine oriented. Wanna know how? Aang has a chance of growing and thus his growth getting stunted is a very chauvinistic philosophy if it’s only applied to males. Thankfully, Thank God literally, that they made characters like Toph who also grown a lot in the series. But yes in ATLA the major characters growing were mostly male. Here there is a female narrative of losing already established power. Which in itself is not misogynistic but I fear that it has a misogynistic and misandrist portrayal. Korra is always defined as an avatar. Unlike Aang who is a person other than an avatar Korra can only ever be an avatar. It feels suffocating that Korra is always declaring that she is an avatar in the lineage of bending and that she can do this and she can do that. Best part of Aang was that he was physically a terrible avatar, (I think Korra may have a larger height than Aang in her full mid 40s adult self like Kiyoshi) as in aside airbending he sucked at other types of bending which was a promising concept. Korra did make really marvelous progress in bending in that she learned very early energy bending and then spirit bending which Aang did not most probably know. But Aang had different aspects to him as a person; he grew up as a person and also as the avatar. Korra’s growth is stunted and in a orthodox, sexualized, male-gaze oriented feminine way she is only trying to save the little shards of avatar-ness that she possesses that makes no sense.
Korra is reluctant to grow beyond “avatar-ness” in fact she bases her entire existence only to that role alone and that is a very reductionist and sexist way of reading a woman. Women are not only titles or only vessels for power; for God’s sake Korra is treated as that. Very archaic and arcane methodology of viewing women is established to formulate her. It is pitiful that a strong female character protagonist is being homogenized into nothing but muscle and athlete pornography. Not to exclude that Asami, the other female character in the show, and a nonbender is totally sexualized. I do not remember Sokka meeting such treatment nor was he reduced to a bimbo in ATLA. In fact, Sokka was a very strong character. They are only scratching Asami on the surface of her inventiveness, technical and technological knowledge and dexterity to provide creative solutions. I love her unwavering loyalty to her friends and her ability to not be a begrudged youth or scorned women but these narratives are hardly explored because Asami is always a frivolous depiction of some Fire Nation beauty (it seems she has Fire Nation roots as both Sokka and Katara were Water Tribe Warriors, my bro always called Sokka a Water Warrior). None of other things about Asami is shown. Not to mention that Sokka is a very humane and human character who learns to be an able warrior for his people and the cause; he proves the essential need of nonbenders as much as Ty-Lee and Mei, and Suki had shown in the first show as they have different methods and valuable tactics of fighting. Asami is just stereotyped as the beauty and mitigated as the forlorn princess of a once rich corporation; add more layers and you make her Blanche from A Streetcar named Desire and have her go insane in the end. Not to mention in Season Two she appropriated a Civil War in a nonchalant business tone on her corporation getting saved (sound familiar, isn’t this what corporations are criticised for aren’t they?). This transaction way of looking at war and not caring about lives is a problem of the modern age and instead of compassion and love that is displayed by Sokka, Asami acts as ruthless as Amon in what she thinks is delivering justice. A friend even mentions that Asami must relegate her “Oh, I am daughter of a rich father” mentality and go on with her life. She is not merely future industries heir she is her own person and can make her own judgments. If she even scraps up the company to build another she can if she feels her father has already tainted the principalities it use to first employ. This show focuses too much on blood and secular lineages that have no bearing and only builds up the status quo of inequality and malformed individuality, and individual collective.
Not to mention that Boilin and Mako too have no chance of growing besides chauvinist archetypes of The Casanova and The Fool. A fan had mentioned that Boilin is too reduced as a comic relief and that it makes no sense to do so and I totally agree. You already have Varrick as a comic relief and the pet Pabu you don’t need to make a main character constantly be a comic relief. Boilin singularity is that he is The Fool and he played this card even in Season Three. In Season Two he reconciled with an abusive girlfriend without even critiquing that her possessiveness and superiority complex is neither charming nor helping her as a person. Boilin is always falling in love and rarely having fun in his love affairs. Mako on the other hand is known only as a dating agent, like a detergent. His singularity is that he is Korra’s boyfriend or Asami’s one time boyfriend and love interest. Frankly, he is only known to be The Casanova. Such misandrist portrayal of a young, sensitive man is highly crap. Like really sexist. Mako clearly has his own dimensions too. The only title graduation he had is being with police and becoming detective. I was like what about his personal journey? Doesn’t he have other goals? Katara did and so did Sokka. Boilin got some time as Nuptuk and that was important but Mako hardly does anything by himself. We see him doing that in Season Two a bit investigating Verrick but he hardly keeps it up when he just ups and down kisses Asami. So basically this guy can only think with his dick? It is true I like MaKorra and that I really want them to be together but this is just plain ridiculous! Why are Mako and Boilin so silly? So completely non-growing? All these writings on them are truly very limited.
I digressed with normal critique to further extrapolate the banality of Season Three. Korra is still a muscle-head, preferring to always take physical action rather than sorting out things in a non-linear holistic way that challenges her character and even her physicality. This is what Season Two exemplified that mere muscles alone cannot defeat spirits as she even lost in avatar state enabled. Season Three started with such promise of having her fight both physically and spiritually, mentally even because the Air Nation is not going to be rebuilt on brute force alone it needs ingenuity and also a large amount of spirit and dedication to do so. Korra must also attune to herself as having no avatar state which is very beautifully challenging. It always introspection and an innovative that even rivals and surpasses Aang’s progress. Instead Korra bemoans like a drama queen whore left, right and center of having no avatar state and skillfully dismissing time to ruminate and also gain referential or even observation-based knowledge about the world. In her ordinariness now she can better communicate with the people and feel what they feel. None of this connection is shown. Korra immediately faces physical dangers that she can somewhat overpower. Her only physical challenge is that she had to learn metal bending (and chastise Mako for hurrying her as a fugitive escaped because she was still a noob at it which doesn’t add much really). Zaheer and the others are so scatterbrained that they hardly pose as credible foes. Like Wile Coyote they make randomized, nonsense violent gestures without much speculation at what the hell they are doing. For a pseudo-wise guy Zaheer surely is an ignoramus and his girlfriend P’Li, his comrades Ming-Hua and Ghazan are equally ignoramus with him. Apparently I got this from Korraspirit in tumblr but guru Lahima’s quote was this:
I was once asked what it means to enter the void. I will tell you. An airbender may meditate for a hundred years trying to detach herself from the world, but she cannot do it. Humans cherish human life, and by that they are bound to this world. The only way to abandon the world is to abandon one’s humanity. New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old. The void is found in the sowing of death. From that death springs life on the wind.
I do not understand how he quotes in brief and also have a girlfriend and just think that disorder is order when Lahima just does not care about humanity in general. Lahima is like a very orthodox or fanatical ascetic who is probably angry at something and mouthing that off. It makes no sense to even think he presupposes anarchy because anarchy itself is so human and he doesn’t care about this and does Zaheer even understand this. It is just very perplexing that Zaheer will just say one line of this to Korra (which I emboldened) and have Korra, even a layman in Lahima studies, not even question that an air nomad may not have meant such a thing as they are very centered and spiritual people like the Water Tribe (more corporeal clans are Earth and Fire in this universe from my understanding). And that maybe he means at the end of one’s life one has to shed his or her humanity as in his human skin but they are still human spirits as Iroh. Another study may show that Lahima may have been upset living as an Air Nomad and must have become a bit angry at the cloistered way many air nomads lived and he felt that it rejected humanity in many ways because many criticise asceticism, its severity as deprivation so he could have just been reflecting on that. Korra has no knowledge of both present or past histories of socio-cultural conduct so she cannot even evaluate the statement Zaheer made. It is a shame really that Korra cannot even ask Tenzin or someone close to him that why an airbender would say this as an airbender has inspired Zaheer and that says a lot. No, that narrative is excluded too. It feels painfully like a betrayal when the inventors of a show presume that we are so dumb to just swallow any crap they give. It feels like we are the daft emperor who are given “clothes” and wear the masterpiece of nothingness and expose raw idiocy. I think the show creators take us for that. It makes no sense. Any of it. A friend and I agreed that this the worst season of Avatar ever both combining ALOK and ATLA and that it spews out stupidity is quite apparent. The weakening of characters and story is a travesty to a potential richness this story has.
I still watch it hoping for changes and just watching. I am not so interested in it anymore. I am just curious on how this train wreck will end. I think the show cannot write or handle female protagonists and is just waiting for this ALOK to end so that they can get a guy avatar to come back. After all these narratives are so chauvinistically handled that in this day and age you feel insulted to see that your personhood regardless you are a man or woman has become reduced to this crap. They can make another female avatar who is fire or earth based I actually want to see them do that. Make the next avatar a girl too and that would be interesting and if they can make it multidimensional like ATLA it would be great. But then again these cultural politics have little merit to discuss things. They just want to do stuff that hardly makes sense or even culturally, psychologically, sociologically and individually satisfying or engaging. They want to marry cliches, overused stereotypes and go along with whatever garbage handed to them to preserve status quo. To preserve totalitarian ideologies and do stuff that makes no sense.
ALOK has bombed this season. They want to make it out alive they must rethink and add layers to a potentially rich story.
Well, the summer got pretty interesting. First of all I was watching the miniature movie/film that serve as part prequels or retelling of Ghost in the Shell which some say is a prelude to the entire Stand Alone Complex series but there are some narrative discrepancies so I am not sure if this is totally attached. However, as I read the design specs follows Matoko as she was in the fantastic movie that debuted her to the world and inspired the matrix. Ghost in the Shell; Arise (as it is called) however, despite the good story line I feel that emotive Matoko whose eyes and lips talked so poetically is not really present. The Ghost in the Shell movie was both a cinematic artistic treat and had such emotional depth. I know it is unfair comparing it with a predecessor but I love when Matoko goes into those “ghost moments” where we see her as both fighter but also philosopher and a semanticist/semiologist attempting to crack down the mythos and meat of her cybernative driven world. And as usual there are avatars or visual, stylistic, impressions of “the puppet master” which may seem old but they do try to put variations on the idea.
I think the flaw with the series is that as it does specialise with “ghost” crimes it needs to be more broad spectrum rather than just ghost hacking or some other things related to it. There is a whole back story of World Wars IV and V I think which were non-nuclear wars that could be explored. Also some parts of Matoko’s origins have drastically changed from that special episode in 2nd Gig where Matoko cybernetic body was given its full address (and also the origin story of another important character). Well, that was rehashed. I am not so pleased and my opinions may be totally subjective but their credence lies on how it lessens to an extent the sort of complex activities, pains, complications and hardship not to mention discipline and experience that God given endurance made Matoko such a more spectacular person who I came to respect more. Though this origin story also highlights on a complex hardship it mitigates the higher details I mean they could have shown the pain with more volatility. Parts of it was shown and here is spoiler informationbecause Matoko was orphaned after a plane crash and her fetal body deemed unable to survive, as her mother was dead, during the period she was alive they did a procedure that transported her nascent mind and brain into a small cyber-brain making her efficiently more or less a born cyborg never having a moment when her body was 100% flesh and this to a high degree does upset and disturb her; not to mention that made her body as all the other cyborgs in the military, or I am guessing that people with that amount of cybernisation become soldiers, inclined to buy out their cards from the army meaning that they are slaves and property to the army until they can buy their freedom or otherwise stated. Matoko’s army division due to international jurisprudence and current wars, being that the war has just recently ended, is comprised of people who are both Japanese and not. There are a few Americans in her division like her commanding officer Colonel Kurtz. Thus the army profiteers from cyber slavery and slavery in general which is pretty much what mass capitalism or mass socialism equipped with consumerism does to people with its neo-liberal oligarchic elites making lives the center of business affairs. In fact, the cyborgs are made to live in a compound and any unauthorized leave even beyond a fence is considered worthy of immense corporal punishment and you see it happen to Matoko. Matoko is so imprisoned that she is given horrible shocks even if she attempts to take out money from her ATM without her army board’s authorization. End of spoiler and well continuing.
The other flaws is that it should provide more non-tactical scenarios with Matoko and her team. They do this with other people from time to time but it would nice to see Matoko interact with a 100% humanoid even one without a cyber-brain so that we can how the dialogue and interaction changes and varies or is cemented; how empathy is gestured and forged. They did do this with Arise where Matoko looks at other cyborgs at times; however I will say that the beautiful panoramic way they did this in the first movie is somewhat missing. You may have the technology now for finer cells but for some reason the vintage like prints of that old movie had more a organic fiber to it than these too sleek and smooth cells. They actually hinder Matoko’s body language to an extent I think; emotive, quiet scenes of Matoko rumination or feeling she is nowhere near the actual looking glass feels more attributing to a masterpiece. I do like that Matoko is not so sexualized in this series as she wasn’t with the first movie. Matoko Kusanagi is like all humans a sexual being but her body despite its prosthesis is not a sexualised thing and this is a major distinction that was made in the episode Cash Eye from 2nd Gig because Matoko knows she is beautiful and has erotic appeal but she is an iron clad individual and her outfit in Arise is full fledged remark of that. It’s blood shade and features reminds us that she is a glossy but flesh and fluid human not a synthoid of pleasure. Matoko’s face and body are now normal; she is attractive but not so voluptuous I do not mind voluptuous but I do mind if that becomes center stage and not Matoko as a person. She is actually a bit more athletic and sleeker now given her military background and that is more appropriate to the context involved. We also learn a very important thing which I do not understand but may have later been added or will later change Section 9 is not only Matoko’s team, Matoko’s team is just like an addendum to Section 9 or this is how Arise makes it. This somewhat confused me because Section 9 unlike the other sections is small, pretty much covert and very specialised it is not like conspicuous or large like Section 1.
Aside this, from my recent review, you know that I watching Free! Eternal Summer compared to Ghost in the Shell it’s like comparing a small toy car to the Formula One event of sorts. But hey I like toys if they are fluffy and also cool and I already watched up to episode 3 of the second TV series. It is going phenomenally good? Compared to episodes 1 and 2 I wasn’t impressed with 3 though episode 3 had its moments and made a very good character development just its pacing and its techniques felt a bit sluggish though as usual its animation was top notch. This is also an episode where direct shounen-ai or yaoi was referenced by Gou so it was nice I liked it and you know that this anime does not mind that though as usual as its not totally a shounen-ai anime (yes, trust me it does have other slices of life things going for it and the way it positions itself it has more teaser elements so its partly not a total shounen-ai fair) we do have characters offering an alternative perspective. I actually want Haruka to get with Gou. I liked this from the first season. Something about them really clicks. I don’t know maybe it’s that Gou understands alot about Haruka at times I feel she gets him a bit better than Rin (Think Harry/Luna from Harry Potter) and they have such quiet but intense conversations at times. Like asking really important questions. And I know this may sound a bit bad to some but I am craving a bit of Het I am. I mean I like variety and I want genuine Het in this show too because the way things are Haruka looks like a character that swings both ways (personality wise he is a more mature version of Kaeda Rukawa; yes I said it. As Slam Dunk focused on Hanamichi we never got real vignettes of Kaeda and I think if Kaeda was alone he would act a bit like Haruka he already does with his off-handed sleeping but Haruka is not as competitive or single minded as Kaeda as in he is surprisingly more flexible and inclusive) and he and Rin, as this Youtube reviewer noticed expertly (forgot his channel) that like Rin Haruka has also matured and also developing. Of all the characters in the show I will say that personality wise Makoto is the most matured and developed. Truly, for a young man he is already acting like a full fledged adult. I want to see Haruka in more expressive situations like anger, hurt or even an emotional carthesis. I mean like “Don’t go Gou-kun!” though like Gou he hates honourifics like that tehe.
I got to know from the Youtuber EmergencyAwesome that Legend of Korra Book 3 Change came out and they are showing double episodes. I was really happy. Thank Allah! Woohoo! Got to watch. There are 7 episodes out and I am liking the concepts but as usual the energy of Book 2 is missing. The people in charge are getting lazy again. I was really disappointed in episodes 6 and 7 and I thought that their magnitude sucked and I see this book is beginning to have an elitist flare that The Last Airbender lacked. This world is very bender focused and many people are benders but Amon did ask a good question why are non-benders treated unfairly and are not given opportunities. I am finding that the directors and storytellers are being very remote on the socio-politics of the show introduced in Season One. Some are being addressed. At one point Korra is asked what she thinks of government systems and colonization is also very nicely added as before. Earth Kingdom territory was used to make Republic City which is the hub for people of all nations but not many people are happy about that and that is somewhat understandable seeing that Aang had a hand it in makes power politics be highlighted a bit. Korra, unfortunately, is even at one point seeing that. Though Tenzin makes very weak observations and so does Korra. People are a bit angry at Korra at her decisions which is viable but Tenzin tells her not to worry too much on their everyday complaints. I was like why not? They are people and they have a right to question her or their leaders but at the same time Korra is doing a poor job helping out. I am angered that such delicate issues are being rushed. I am happy that Legend of Korra has more modern realistic elements and themes compared with The Last Airbender because that series elucidated bending more this one elucidates how life is with or without it.I was also not impressed at how despite people not being coerced or apparently not to make choices they are herded out to do so (more on that later) I am impressed by Asami in this season because she is more of a flexible and nimble fighter than Korra. Korra’s martial arts need polishing so does Mako’s and others because they rely too much on their bending. These things need a separate post.
I also saw Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox it was really good. I am really happy that they focused on how serious and noble Flash is. We usually see Flash
as a jokester and a half mature person. In this installment he was so refined that he even inspires Batman. I guess I did miss his jokes a bit. Yet I was impressed by how they built his character. Full endurance he takes really massive beatings and really takes a heap of torture; psychologically, emotionally and physically. I started to respect his character more. Not to mention this Justice League features violence, blood, swearing gay references which were all huge. It also criticizes all A list countries for their knack and passion to make wars as easily as they can bump uglies in a dilapidated alley. By the end of the feature I think I started loving Barry Allen. I mean he is a very credible DC hero and I am happy that this film gave him the scope and matter to prove that he was one. I also was impressed by Lois Lane because in this film they showed how many ordinary non-super powered humans are very endurable and very resilient and strong. The non-supers have an equal and able place and I think its about time that these stories show that. Realistic stories have to have that. Hey even melting clocks in The Persistence of Memory of Dali’s had something very real: clocks. Overall I really loved this movie. It’s only flaws I would say is that DC’s animation style needs revisions and very good ones. Their male characters look like steroid spans not people; yes muscular but they also need to look attractive for viewers as in faces. This film is more of a body thing even with its female characters except Lois Lane I don’t think many looked that great yeah Diane looked like her artist make her have a lazy face. I don’t want high cheekbones what I want is variety and relatable faces and bodies of people.
I have been a fan of Transformers since Gen 1 which means the animated 80s franchise. I easily loved Optimus Prime and had a big crush on him as a kid which is still pretty salient I must say. Did I think the Transformers trilogy was very good? It was decent enough and it was enjoyable to watch. In the 3 movies we were shown an array of Autobots and Decepticons with some meat to their metal (aside Optimus): Starscream, Lazerbeak, Bumbledee, Ironhide, Rachet, etcetera.
What did I think there was going to an overhaul in the characters? At first I thought it was a reboot because many franchises nowadays love that. Just rehash. Like some website overhaul. When I saw Mark Wahlberg I thought ok maybe it is an entirely different transformer story. To some extent that is correct. It is a part-reboot but essentially some mythos has been very changed. Top antagonists have changed which is good because Megatron is so common a foe it is understandable that you want to do something out of the box.
CGI wise this film has great components. The bottle green shade of one of the new Autobots is beautifully reflected and so is the Shogun apparel of another. Lockdown, our main protagonist, has an impressive ship and thats very nicely detailed. Optimus now has a bit of a grungier look and that suits the mode of the film. Before they showed him a lot in van mode but one good thing on this film is that they featured him more sans vehicle and more Autobot individual with a very gothic-vintage armour that really spoke out what the film is going for: personalization of the Transformers as entities not as transportation vehicles that humans ride in. They are individuals.
Did the movie succeed in pulling all of those components?
Not a damn way. Unless Bay wanted that to be the case. Maybe, this film is satirical. If that;s the case I am impressed and this succeeds.
Transformers 4 is so bad compared to Dark of the Moon that I am really disappointed. Dark of the Moon was so good in its genre that I can still watch it today with much gusto but this movie can be summed up only as one sentence: CGI wet dream.
Sure, it had a lot of potential and things that make it partly rewatchable like the graphics and if you are a fan like me (you might want to watch again for fun) but as a whole it was kind of a torture. I remember that after 40 minutes by excitement shriveled like a hot air balloon about to pop or just howl away. It does have potential but it many ways it was ruthlessly, as one reviewer stated, lazy. Plain lazy. You can see it in the narratives that put it up there.
I actually got angry at Optimus Prime portrayal I felt that he has a major character assassination. From a heroic person he became miserable and grouchy which I could connect with at first, however, then it just got boring. It didn’t feel organic enough and it felt more like this scaler steel that was talking and doing things rather than Optimus and I was disappointed.
The humans are very one dimensional and are so “inhuman” as in they are caricatures that I felt that they were just meat adhesives to the plot over all this movie gets a D- or E because of its lazy narrative and its uncompelling plot circus that just got drafted inti the CGI. It feels more like a workshop draft than something that is a movie; like some filler for some animation specs. I wonder what Bay was thinking when he was doing all this. It really is so badly written that even I can rewrite a better script.
Now I will go bit by bit on what I feel is wrong with this movie.
Massive Spoilers Ahead → take a detour if not want to be spoiled
* This is an ongoing series and as I did not cap it I am borrowing caps made by others from Tumblr but giving them credit for their work. Sorry for this.
As usual we are treated to hot, muscular, slender bodies that are associated with a swim stars’ physiques. As usual there is both heterosexual vibes in the guise of Gou Matsuoka who is Rin Matsuoka younger sister and still the rambunctious manager of the Iwatobi swim team. Yet this anime does have the shounen-ai flare. It is marketed with that sense that it will also satiate a boys’ love niche. I don’t have any complications with that. Many sports anime of this era have these secretions (oops innuendo :)), however, I hope that it does not tone down, alleviate the complexities of the story.
Many of you might be asking what story? I know that Free! caters a lot to erotica or even sexual responses. I mean many would say that it is a bit like K-On! only with guys. It’s story type is linear-based jumping from some conflict or the other. But then there were moments that it really goes full swing and caters to another level of responses; the ones that deal with adrenalin, the ones that make you want to these young adults and their inner mysteries. There are many things of Haruka Nanase that I really desire to know; quite pithy remarks that he said from the very beginning of the anime in the first TV series where he actually did not mind if he would not be called a swimming prodigy anymore and actually preferred that he becomes what can be called normal. This attenuates to what people think he is and who is. They usually just associate him to be a dry fish out of land; an oddball, an arrogant jerk but he is not that at all.
He loves swimming for the art of swimming, for the sake of swimming not to be adorned with medals and accolades. And that is something tricky at times. We see this. It is tricky because it is beautifully there and at the same time in the world of sports where one aspires to be a pioneering legend,m prefers to win as it is an arena fully based and blasted on performativity and competitiveness it feels very subtle and strong at the same time. It leaves its mark. I don’t like that this complexity of Haruka gets toned down only to him being some babe on swimwear; no character, male or female, deserves that especially when they possess such depth. Like water he feels almost non-consequential as a calm surface but he is actually a possessor of depth. Other details of Haruka that were not so divulged: he is very good at art — sketching and sculpting; it naturally comes to him (maybe he has some school practice because in Japanese schoold from a young age they do make you do a lot of activities both considered academic ones and non-academic ones. However, that does not deny he has a natural talent as he effortlessly understands structure and lines with shading). This is interdisciplinary strokes as its best. When you understand God given water so well you can do well in art; swimming as he does helps him maneuver in seas and see a lot of detail so his hand muscles and perception are easily polished by swimming like that. So yeah God given talents both flow into each other like an atomic circuit.
The characters in this show have a lot of potential to be complex. They have all the ingredients for it. I see it shining in the hot fire in Haruka Nanase’s eyes, or even Rin’s atypical sharp, sharp toothed smiles or gestures. When Rin is sad it fades but the visuals of this anime are excellent. From the very first season/Tv series I saw that in each slide; the colour palette is crisp and tantalizing fluid, like some segments of water; the colours have an aquamarine tint to them. Also the characters at this point are 2-Dimensional. They have a lot of eccentric qualities that merits beautiful narratives. The only “normal” bishie is a chibi-type Nagisa who jumps on and about but as this second show’s first episode showed that even has a muscular trait that sets him out: it’s his strong calves. That is actually very good for breast stroke because the calves work as a sort of pulley effect against the water (in my understanding; also he does say he specializes in breast strokes). Yet he even he wields more than a fanboy status and has all the qualities these seniors (excluding Rei who is his batch mate) have. Rei has proven he is a prodigy in his own right. Going up against Makoshiba Rin’s school captain, when he is still a novice and doing pretty good.
Of course, like the first TV series there is a complication. Only this time it’s not Rin being a jerk it’s his boyfriend friend being that. Sousuke is the new character introduced. We see him already in the the opening theme. Let;s say he is designed to be Rin’s Makoto. He has similar traits to Makoto. The hair is darker brown and the eyes are aquamarine. But he does scream that. Only thing is that he is not at all like Makoto who is quite sweet. Like Rin’s previous attitude he has a big aggression. And yeah it is directed to Haruka. I am already guessing why. He must think Haruka is destroying Rin’s aspirations and that he doesn’t deserve Rin’s strong feelings or friendships. That part is quite predictable. Though I am happy there is a new character I just don’t like the fact that he is the typical “buddy-fetish” one. I hope they don’t narrow his dimensions. Sousuke Yamazaki can be more than eye candy and also Rin’s substitute boyfriend. I wonder if Sousuke actually is angry because he feels that Haruka torn his swimming partner too? Though I would actually find it interesting if Sousuke wants to throw down Rin from his captain position and say he thinks Rin is too emotional to be a swimming athlete. That would be a total u-curve and I would appreciate it a lot. I think fans may find that also an appealing surprise.
The first episode mostly shows the bodies; the flexible, dexterous swimmers are all lining up, warming up in a way for summer may be coming soon and they want to sharpen their reflexes and breath gauge before that happens. Of course, this allows multiple fanservice to be showcased with some slice of life warm stew put into the mix. The Iwatobi Swim Club lacks facilities and also people, in contrast Rin’s schoo, Samezuki Gakuen, has people trying out all the time and have a good handful of members. This paucity is nicely shown in the absurdly hilarious way in which Haruka and friends try to recruit models using weird amateur film slides and modeling their physiques and expertise to a crowd, a bit surprisingly, full of girls. They, ironically, find this to be too brazen and whisper this amongst themselves. The Iwatobi Swim team realizes the lack of suitable members or fans. Rin is promoted to captain, reluctantly, but he seems a very good leader: all he has to do to recruit members is to give a few trial specs (there is a actually a standard they have to beat in their academy to actually make it to the team whilst Iwatobi has to be happy with any volunteer) and they go at it. In the midst of a bickering Gou and Rei, a sighing Nagisa and an optimistic Makoto Haruka tells how he feels. He would just like to have a member who likes swimming much to the dismay of Nagisa. A sliver of the gem in the episode (will Sousuke be that one?).
I was a bit surprised that Rin has not transferred to Iwatobi school as of yet. I was pretty surprised to see him. Apparently, this is not well discussed but it is shown in a small flashback that because Rin swam with Haruka in a tournament as part of the same team though they are not it did cause repercussions; maybe severe ones. Rin said he will fix it. Unfortunately, his captain handed him the mantle as the fix. Maybe he thinks he is doing Rin a favour as an Olympic swimmer doesn’t swim always with a group he favours or likes or his friends. Clearly, Rin is not too happy about it. Maybe, there is some disparity over what he really wants. Though in a later segment he clearly states, or rather ambitiously, that his goal is the same; to swim in Nationals and go through to the Olympics. I was a bit surprised because I though like Haru he wanted to swim with his friends; maybe, he wants both and the first tv series was dedicated in showing him that he wants both. That is not bad at all. Rather it adds to his character and doesn’t make him a whimsical bumpkin.
There are two swimming matches in this episode. First is a sudden 400m Freestyle medley suggested by departing captain Makishoba of Samezuki Gakuen with the Iwatobi team. In that one it is hinted that Rin did beat Haru again. This is what I like about this show. Haru is not some stereotypical Shounen lad always winning. He actually loses and doesn’t care and attempts to learn from it. It is also good sportmanship from Rin not to gloat. There is a potential, a watery fire, inside Haruka. There is no reason to oust him as his rival anytime soon. Rivals are not always made by wins and loses it is made by perseverance, compatible wavelengths and a deeply respect and understanding between two individuals. And if your rival is your friend you are at times lucky methinks as you can trust that there will be less foul play in the field.
Before the second match the team heads to their old Iwatobi Swim Club building which has been reconstructed (weird whacky way in which the construction company meant to bulldoze it suddenly had a company shutdown and their old teacher, Goro, decided to buy it partly and salvage parts and just rebuild it). Their own pool is still dirty and closed for winter and as it is open-air it would be unpractical and against regulations to swim in it. They swim in the club instead prepping for the match while Sousuke (not revealed at that time) carefully observes Haruka.
In the second match, which is like a general non-pro tournament, Rin and Haruka go off against each other again. With innuendo laden speech said beforehand (how Rin plans to make Haruka’s cold face heat up O_O)
and then with crisp visuals they show them underwater. Their speedy swimming is captured in gaspy faces as though…you get it. But then technique overpowers fanservice. Rin who was in the lead sees Haruka gaining up after the turnover. Haruka realizes that Rin has much practice than him, though he mentions he has been training, so he conserved his energy but then went full on to catch up to Rin. I actually started cheering as the adrenalin got high. They both finished at the exact same time getting a new record in the tournament and Rin high fives Haruka. Then happily said he knew he would get him fired up to which Haruka remarks that he is still normal.
Afterwards he get treated to a visual feast. Not of swimming bodies. But of a cleaned Iwatobi pool. And submerged and floating in them are lovely cherry blossoms. Haru remembered that Rin wanted to swim in a cherry blossom filled pool when they were young,. Making captain means he deserves a nice surprise. The tactic didn’t work to recruit anyone but at least Rin gets what he wanted. Well, during their bickering it starts to suddenly winter rain and they head in. That is when Rin asks Makoto and Haru what they plan to do after high school as he clearing swimming that swim route or plans to. Makoto laughs it that he is undecided. Haru honestly answers with a blank. Making Rin realize they haven’t thought of anything yet.
This angle is organic and nicely done that I liked it a lot. Like many young adults and adolescents high school is the pinnacle of existence as in you do that and other things thinking it is permanent. It never is. Haruka is too obsessed with swimming so he hardly thought about it. Makoto’s laugh (as I realized after reading Tumblr posts that suggest that once he was suicidal) is an aversion technique at times. Perhaps he is so used to the team especially picking up Haruka and all that (bromance to the max) that he hasn’t gotten or doesn’t want to think about a separate life. Makoto, from my experience of the character, is at times cheery because he gets depressed and sad easily. He is more attached than Nagisa and at times uses smiles as a way to hide his worries. I am also thinking that Makoto may have already decided what he wants and just doesn’t want to say it yet. Probably because Haruka also gets sad intensely from time to time. I was thinking Makoto may have decided to go to university but feels panicky about leaving the others. It happens amongst friends of such closeness.
That is pretty much the episode. It ends with Sousuke joining Rin’s academy and we finally getting to see his face on screen pass OP theme. It the preview it shows that he haughtily corners Haruka. Already ready to start the tension of competition.
About the question that what they will be when they graduate high school. The whole ending thing was somewhat dedicated to that:
No, he is supposed to be an actual cop not a stripper. Yeah, I know hypnotic hips (laughs). Makoto becomes a fireman, Nagisa an astronaut which was one that really confused me (I did not know he was interested in those things like that but yeah I am all for it), Rei is a scientist and Haruka aside from some mermaid shots happens to be a chef (cooking mackerel all the time gets you places I guess).
The show may be centering on the narrative that you may have a dream in sports but if you don’t make it or after that you might have other dreams. I think I really liked that they are going with this message. Many a times we think Rin is just pursuing Olympic medals because his father had him and his sister and couldn’t go for it. I think he is forgetting that his fathers dreams may have changed or that he had other dreams. The anime may be showing that there are more to sportsman than sports and that your God given life is not over till its over and that you can do many other stuff you want to do. Though yeah the ED theme is also sexy but it does bring out that message too,
Overall, if Free! can break its own confines and just be complex as well as fanservicey from time to time it can be very interesting. A lot of shows, recently, have been so fanservicey that it would be nice to see non-fanservice qualities in a show that is so liked for fanservice. Breaking its presumptions and just upping its game.
* * Vistit http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/free!-eternal-summer for fun gifs and caps