but i love all three dynamics so much and they were connected through the story so whatever

anonymous asked:

tbh tho, i blame most of Aang's character towards Katara on those bryke assholes. Like if Ehasz had continued to writer at the front of everything then i bet SO MUCH WOULDVE BEEN BETTER ugh

Well, of course— you can’t ‘blame’ Aang for his behavior as his behavior is the product of the creators and writers. However, for the sake of critiquing ATLA (or any media), it only makes sense to pinpoint character actions, rather than washing your hands of negative behaviors portrayed in a relationship and chalking it up to bad writing. The reason for critiquing is to create better writing in the future— and thereby create better characters who properly display respect for one each other.

That’s not to say I don’t agree with your comment, however. Based on various analyses I’ve read, I dare say Bryke were largely in control of Aang and were extremely adverse to any development that hinted at a separation between Aang and Katara. To them, Katara was a prize for Aang’s feats as the Avatar,. This was clearly illustrated by the many advances Aang made towards her, his efforts growing particularly aggressive before monumental battles.

Even more so, Bryke’s opinion of Katara as a mere reward was further demonstrated by her lack of voice on the matter of Kataang. Every interaction between Aang and Katara was overwhelmingly told through his eyes. From beginning, Aang looked at her through rose-colored lenses. He put her on a pedestal, believed she was perfect, and thereby only saw perfection in her. She was not free to be herself around him, unless the version of herself being portrayed was that of a nurturing mother. Any romantic connection between them was never voiced by her and rarely made evident, but for the few and far between blushes that came in Season One (The Fortune Teller, and The Headband). Other than these instances, most advances made by Aang were either rejected (which he chose to ignore and kiss her anyways— Ember Island Players, or he lashed out violently— Love Is A Battlefield) or Katara moved on without a second thought (The Cave of Two Lovers) or looked aside with a downcast grimace (The Day of Black Sun & Ember Island Players).

For me, the evidence of Bryke’s distaste for any opinions from Katara was made abundantly clear in The Fortune Teller. Aang receives an ambiguous fortune of a great struggle, of his tremendous destiny, and is prominently displayed as the hero of the entire episode, despite it being Sokka’s wit that saved the village.

On the flip side, Katara has her entire life laid out before her, from how many children she will have, to when she will pass away. Additionally, she is told she will marry a ‘very powerful bender.’ At a glance, this could be loose enough— a powerful bender could mean anyone, from Haru to Aang to Zuko. Even Toph and Azula fit into this prediction!

However, the final comment from Sokka, after Aang’s amazing display of airbending and his saving of the day—

Sokka, appearing amazed: “Wow, that kid is one powerful bender”
Katara, looking shocked: “What did you say?”
Sokka, shrugging: “Nothing. Aang’s just a really powerful bender.”
Katara, blushing and looking amazed: “I suppose he is.”

—sealed the deal regarding Bryke’s view of Katara.

In a show centered around shaping your world, finding your destiny, and creating a better reality, Katara was given no choice in her future whatsoever. There was no mention of her future as a master at fourteen. There was no promise of her destiny as the greatest waterbender, bloodbender, and healer. Her aid in training the Oh So Powerful Bender, her victory over Azula, her saving of the world’s only hope at a decent Fire Lord— not mentioned. She was to marry Aang, she was to be amazed by him, and she was to have three children, then die from old age. And if LOK is any indication, without other writers in the picture, Katara may as well have been a side note in ATLA, too.

Another side note: Even Sokka’s fortune is ambiguous and vague (He will face a lot of misfortune or whatever, as most of it is his own doing—- nothing different from what we all already expected given his development at that point in the story and Meng’s destiny is simply to marry a man with big ears. This showed an extreme preference for males having more say in their destiny over females. Males were to do great things, romantics aside. Females were simply to marry, all their value coming from their spouse.

Meanwhile the Ehasz couple had a large hand in Zuko’s characterization and Aaron Ehasz was responsible for the development of Katara into a WOC feminist icon (not to mention, the existence of Toph and Azula). Had Aaron been allowed complete control, or at least, enough to affect the shipping, we would’ve seen a slightly more pronounced development of Zutara and the natural rifts that appeared in Kataang would’ve been expanded. Furthermore, Season Three would not have been such a jumbled mess of will they or won’t they between Aang and Katara.

Aaron had respect for all the characters affected by his writing— unlike Bryke. He did not godmod one character, put down the rest to further pronounce one character’s heroics, and he not force a pairing together with little to no say from one side of said pairing. His respect for the characters can be demonstrated in a similar fashion that I illustrated Bryke’s disrespect: by referring to the Ehasz’s preferred ship and the interactions between both parties.

For the sake of keeping this concise, let’s ignore Katara and Zuko’s time as mutually respected and challenging enemies, and skip straight to their conversation below Ba Sing Se.

It was what, five minutes? Five minutes of Katara yelling and raging and Zuko sitting there in silence. It took five minutes for the viewer to gain the background story of the necklace, her mother’s death, and her anger towards the Fire Nation. I don’t want to say it was because she felt safe with Zuko, but I will say it was because she felt he would understand her anger. If nothing else, he was just someone who would listen to her, unlike everyone else in her life at that point.

Surprisingly, Zuko sympathized with her and opened up about his own background. Of everyone who knew, or I assumed knew, it was Zuko— her enemy— that said “Hey, I get it, and I’m sorry.”  He listened. He responded. He understood.

Wasn’t it Ehasz himself who said no one got katara like Zuko, and vice versa?

It can be argued that Aang understood her loss— he lost his entire culture, I would hope he understood Katara’s feelings— but how much can one know if he never asks?

From the very beginning, so much of the dynamic between Katara and Aang was her sheltering him from the reality and the pain of the world’s current state. She softly hinted that the airbenders had disappeared. She tried to hide evidence of the Fire Nation at the Southern Temple. She coddled him in the desert and held the group together as he fell apart. After every loss and every battle, she uplifted him, helped him, and focused solely on what he was feeling and what they needed to do moving forward.

Never once did Aang return the favor. Yes, he was kind. Yes, he was thoughtful. He did make her a replacement necklace. He did happily surprise her with the regained betrothal necklace. He did make an effort to help her learn waterbending in the North Pole. But the things that mattered, the deep things, the burning things…

Hey Katara, I know you lost your necklace. What did it mean to you?
Hey Katara, I know you lost your mother. Tell me about her.
Hey Katara, I know you’re upset with your father. What’s wrong?
Hey Katara, I know you’re afraid of losing me. Does it hurt you when I fly off?
Hey Katara, I know your father is imprisoned. Is there anything I can do?
Hey Katara, I know this man caused you deep pain. Tell me why hunting him down will help you.
Hey Katara, you know you mean something to me. What do I mean to you?

Tell me, did he ask her any of these questions? Even once? I’m afraid the answer is no. Aang wanted Katara to care for him and be there for him, but he did not return the same sentiment towards her.

But you know who did? Zuko. In the Crystal Catacombs, and multiple times following.

When her father was taken by the Fire Nation, he not only showed concern for her (indirectly), he showed concern for Sokka. He paid attention to the emotions of those around him and offered his aid. And when the family was reunited, the happiness on his face was unbridled. I don’t remember Aang asking or even mentioning Hakoda’s name following the Day of Black sun.

In the Southern Raiders episode, Zuko quickly picked up on Katara’s lingering anger and made every effort to understand her emotions, earn her forgiveness, and promote her own personal healing. He stood behind her in silent support during their journey. He backed her in front of Aang and Sokka. He did not try to voice his own opinions. I remember Aang telling her over and over and over again that she was wrong and ‘acting like Jet.’

In the finale, Zuko opened up to Katara about his Uncle, but instead of it being a one-sided type of thing (where she’s constantly checking up on him, but never receiving support of her own), the conversation was mutual and friendly. It was obvious they were close. It was obvious he respected her. It was obvious that Katara did not have to mother him to make him feel better.

Do you need any cheek kisses, Zuko, to make all your boo-boos better?

Additionally, Zuko looked to Katara as an equally capable bender, the only one he wanted by his side in that final fight. He sought to defend her and he valued her life above his own.

The connection between them was blatant. We didn’t need cheap episodes of dancing and contrived blushing to know what either side was feeling because Zuko and Katara asked each other. There was a mutual support, a mutual uplifting of the other. Katara was permitted a voice in her relationship with Zuko. She was permitted to be powerful and outspoken and she was respected.

Ehasz didn’t view her as a reward, therefore, through his writing, she wasn’t treated as such. And had his shipping preferences been endgame, had there been a fourth book as he envisioned, I’d venture a guess that you’re correct— the treatment of Katara, the progression of Zutara and digression of Kataang, and the development of Aang would’ve been handled beautifully. The viewers would have been offered the closure we lacked (the closure the comics are mutilating) and the characters would have been given the ending they all deserved.

each step draws us closer to the aisle

hello, this is the thing that has been consuming my mind, soul and time. it’s the first time i’m writing a multichapter fic so let’s see how this goes. let me know what you guys think!

Summary: “Hey, babe.

Because I’m an amazing work AND life partner, I know you pretty well. 

That means I knew there’d be a very high chance you’d be getting all nervous and stressed out about things going right right now. But listen, that’s not your job today, okay? The only thing you have to do is show up and marry me. Let your mom and Kylie and the rest of the wedding party put out the fires and try to relax a bit. 

I made you something that I hope will help you do that. 

Don’t press play until you turn the first page. And no peeking!”


song #1 - and we go a little something like this

read on ao3 or click on keep reading below!

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Shapeshifting Klance AU

Sometimes I get weird thoughts, and this is one of them.

Background: Shapeshifters are out in the open, often being treated as important cultural leaders back in the ancient times, but by advancements in science and genealogy proved that they were just a different a different species, so they just became more like regular people and not gods. Although, that shift in dynamic, shapeshifters are still very high up in society.

  • Keith had managed to push another pair of foster parents up the wall and soon was shipped to another foster home. So, when he was notified that he was moving once again, this was not what he was expecting.
  • His social worker drove to this massive house-mansion, is more like it. It had three stories and what would be best described as a tower with floor to ceiling windows that towered over the house an extra story, accented with blue and white, which was fitting to the ocean breeze hitting him. Keith and his social worker walked to the big brown double doors and knocked.
  • A man with long curly hair which was tied back into a braid, wearing a loose pair of shorts, a white guayabera and sandals answered the door. With a booming voice and bright smile,  he welcomed Keith and his social worker into the house. “Bienvenidos! Name’s Abelardo, but you call me Abe”
  • Long story short, his new foster family was descendants of an old pod of shape-shifting mermaids, known to have lived in Cuba, but moved to the States during the war and due to this, they were loaded. They had two pool houses. Who needs two pool houses?
  • He was shown to his room, in one of the pool houses, his window facing the beach, hearing the waves crashing onto land. He was shoving his duffel bag under the bed, didn’t even bother unpacking because who knows how long he’ll be here for when he heard a knock on the door.
  • When he opened the door, he was faced with a beautiful boy who had tan skin and blue eyes. “Name’s Lance, who are you?” “Keith” “Welcome Keef!” he smiled
  • That sparked their friendship where they bickered a lot, but for whatever reason Keith only saw Lance during the day. He strongly refused to hang out at night, every night. (All Keith wanted was to sit at the beach and watch the fireworks with him)
  • Despite this, Keith couldn’t help to feel a real connection to Lance, one he never felt before. He noticed little things about Lance that others didn’t really see. Even more, Lance seemed to notice little things about him too that no one ever had. He felt almost like electricity going through him whenever he was with Lance, but seemed to him that Lance was only interested in being brothers with him. So, he did what he always did, bury everything deep inside of him.    
  • One day Keith couldn’t sleep cuz nightmares, and he hadn’t really made any other connections other than Lance, but he couldn’t go to Lance since he always refused to see him at night when he decided to sit at the beach.
  • There, he saw a tail moving in the shallow part of the water. A tan back feeding into beautiful scales that were different shades of blue which were glistening in the moonlight, and Keith felt his breath was taken away. Almost like he was on autopilot, he moved towards the water, with the pure intention to touch.
  • When he entered the water, the mermaid quickly turned around. Keith was met with Lance, in his mermaid merman(?) form.
  • Before Lance could swim away, Keith grabbed his arm, eyes begging silently for him to stay, to which Lance relented. Keith moved a hand to hover over Lance’s tail, asking for permission to touch, which Lance nodded, a pink blush dusting his cheeks.
  • Once Keith touched the scales on Lance’s tail, a sudden prickling feeling was felt in the back of his head and surged forward like a sea storm hitting land. Keith passed out.
  • Keith dreamt of Lance, but not now Lance. Lance back in the 1950′s Havana streets dancing to the rhythmic sounds of cumbia, twirling around a little girl, who was giggling wildly. Lance in what looks like 1920′s California, hair blowing in the wind as he drove a convertible down the beach. Lance back in the 1450′s Dominican Republic, decked out in royal jewelry sitting on a high throne, overlooking a festival.
  • When Keith woke up, he was laying in bed made with fine sheets, that he quickly recognized as Lance’s room. “You’re awake!” Lance came into his view, brows furrowed and his eyes full of worry. “What the hell was that?”
  • Keith was gathered into a family meeting with the leads (Lance’s Parents) of the pod. This is where he learned that shapeshifters live much longer than humans know, almost 15 times longer than a human lifespan. And that they have pre-destined soulmates, to which he was Lance’s. Even though he was human, he was just reborn again and again, and every time he and Lance fell in love with each other without fail.
  • Lance had found Keith when he was fighting someone in the alleyway and just knew that he was the one he was looking for. Somehow they pulled the strings that Keith came to them. Lance had kept somewhat of a distance because he wanted to know his soulmate once again, and for Keith to fall for him again. Seeing him at night and sharing a moment in his other form would bring those memories back, and Lance had wanted Keith to love him out of his volition. (Which he did, even if he didn’t admit it)
  • Keith and Lance then continued on in their relationship, growing and relearning of each other. In a way, it made so much more sense as to why Keith got so close so quickly, he had always known lance.
  • Keith then met Lance’s other shapeshifting friends. Shiro, a feline shapeshifter to which he got along with famously, Hunk (his best friend) a werefox, and Pidge a werewolf, along with Allura and Coran who were mermaids part of another pod.
  • One night, Keith and Lance cuddled into bed, Keith quietly asked: “What happens when I die?” “If I’m still alive, you’ll enter the cycle for reincarnation, but I don’t plan to live without you anymore.” Lance refused to say anymore after that.
  • Keith and Lance lived together until Keith grew gray and old, passed away in his sleep. then Lance slipped into the rolling waves of an angry ocean and was never seen again…

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Bael, Rose(s) of Winterfell, and Prophecies

So this meta is written in response to @bloomray and laney’s conversation that you all should read here before reading what follows. It’ll make more sense that way since this adds on a few things to B’s post. 


Preface of Sorts

So first, a quick confession. I’m real hard pressed to find any evidence in ASOIAF of Jonerys. I’m sure it exists; I’m sure shippers can point me to something somewhere, but everything mostly feels like a stretch. And hey, that’s okay because god knows you don’t have to ship stuff that’s even remotely canonical. To each their own and all that. What does annoy me, however, is leveraging certain lines and selectively reading without a lot of context in order to prove canonical foundation. For me, the line that gets stretched the most is this one from the House of the Undying prophecies: 

A blue flower grew from a chink in a wall of ice, and filled the air with sweetness.

Somehow, blue flower = Jon and sweetness = romance, and hence Jonerys is endgame. As bloomray pointed out in her post (and as other meta writers have as well), sweetness has a lot of negative connotations to it in ASOIAF, particularly in Dany’s narrative. Bloomray already outlined that in her piece, so I’m not going to rehash that here other than to say that perhaps the sweet smell could be the sweet smell of decaying flesh from the Others and Wights Beyond-the-Wall that Jon’s narrative is tied to? Just a thought. 

Anyway, what I’m most interested in is the blue flower part in this post. Laney came up with the initial idea of the blue flower alluding to the tale of Bael the Bard, and bloomray expanded upon it in her post. 

For this post, I want to talk about framing and the context surrounding the places where we hear about the tale of Bael the Bard to understand how it might fit into Jon’s narrative and, by extension, what GRRM is trying to get at in the HotU prophecy. 


Bael the Bard’s Song

First, let’s talk about where Bael appears most significantly in the text. The only places that Bael isn’t just name-dropped in passing are Jon VI in ACOK and Jon I in ASOS. The former is where the story is laid out, and the latter is when it is revealed that Mance infiltrated Bobby B’s visit to Winterfell. It may be worth noting, in passing, that Bael is never mentioned in ASOIAF outside of Jon’s POV. Thus, I think it’s fair to say that the story of Bael is meant to tell us something about Jon

So the story itself: 

“North or south, singers always find a ready welcome, so Bael ate at Lord Stark’s own table, and played for the lord in his high seat until half the night was gone. The old songs he played, the new ones he’d made himself, and he played and sang so well that when he was done, the lord offered to let him name his own reward. ‘All I ask is a flower,’ Bael answered, ‘the fairest flower that blooms in the gardens o’ Winterfell.’”

“Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious. So the Stark sent to his glass gardens and commanded that the most beautiful o’ the winter roses be plucked for the singer’s payment. And so it was done. But when morning come, the singer had vanished…and so had Lord Brandon’s maiden daughter. Her bed they found empty, but for the pale blue rose that Bael had left on the pillow where her head had lain.” 

[…]

“Lord Brandon had no other children. At his behest, the black crows flew forth from their castles in the hundreds, but nowhere could they find any sign o’ Bael or this maid. For most a year they searched, till the lord lost heart and took to his bed, and it seemed as though the line o’ Starks was at its end. But one night as he lay waiting to die, Lord Brandon heard a child’s cry. He followed the sound and found his daughter back in her bedchamber, asleep with a babe at her breast.”

“Bael had brought her back?” 

“No, They had been in Winterfell all the time, hiding with the dead beneath the castle. The maid loved Bael so dearly she bore him a son, the song says…though if truth be told, all the maids love Bael in them songs he wrote. Be that as it may, what’s certain is that Bael left the child in payment for the rose be’d plucked unasked, and that the boy grew to be the next Lord Stark. So there it is–you have Bael’s blood in you, same as me.” 

-Jon VI, ACOK

Alright, so there’s that–the tale itself. And the similarities to Rhaegar and Lyanna are definitely there within the story itself. Singer, Winterfell’s daughter, a son born to a dying line (Targs), etc. 

Perhaps Jonerys shippers read the similarities between the tale and Rhaegar/Lyanna and make the blue rose a connection to Targaryen bedding Stark. I say bedding here because (1) I don’t believe Rhaegar/Lyanna were ever married, (2) the power dynamics make consent very challenging in this relationship, and (3) as Ygritte says, maybe the Rose of Winterfell did love Bael like the song claims, but in Bael’s songs everyone is in love with him so it’s hard to say what the nature of the relationship was. 


Winter’s Rose v2.0 - Lyanna Stark; Or, Why This isn’t About Jonerys, but Jon’s Parentage

Now that we have access to the tale itself, I want to talk about what surrounds the tale. As I said in my preface, I think what frames the tale tells us a lot about how we’re supposed to read it both in the context of the chapter and ASOIAF as a whole. 

Let’s look at what comes almost directly before the tale first. Ygritte and Jon share the following exchange:

“You said you were the Bastard o’ Winterfell.”

“I am.”

“Who was your mother?”

“Some woman. Most of them are.” Someone had said that to him once. He did not remember who.

She smiled again, a flash of white teeth. “And she never sung you the song o’ the winter rose?”

“I never knew my mother. Or any such song.”

“Bael the Bard made it,” said Ygritte. - Jon VI, ACOK

And then what follows shortly after when Jon is tasked with beheading Ygritte: 

He raised Longclaw over his head, both hands tight around the grip. One cut, with all my weight behind it. He could give her a quick clean death, at least. He was his father’s son. Wasn’t he? Wasn’t he? - Jon VI, ACOK

The tale of Bael the Bard is bookended with mentions of Jon’s (1) maternity, and (2) paternity. Naturally, when Jon references being his father’s son, he’s talking about the man who passes the sentence swinging the sword. But it takes on such a beautiful, double meaning for the reader in the midst of mentioning his mother, telling the tale of Winterfell’s daughter (the Winter Rose) being abducted by a singer, and then Jon questioning his paternity. 

The blue rose is meant to represent Lyanna. Of course it’s tied up in the great Rhaegar/Lyanna debacle, but it’s first and foremost about the Rose of Winterfell. Jon is associated with the blue rose through his mother. Yes, through the crown of roses Rhaegar bestowed upon her, but even more significantly through this legend—Winterfell’s daughter and her bastard son who return to Winterfell while he’s still a babe at her breast.

We know Jon will be important in the War for the Dawn, just as Dany will be. It’s only natural they meet. They are, after all, the last surviving big-name Targaryens. But to see that her seeing him in a vision means that they’re going to have a romance or bang? Well, need bloomray and I remind you that Dany also saw a man with a wolf’s head being paraded around (Robb Stark). No one is pairing Dany with a resurrected Robb Stark. We can’t assume anyone she sees in the vision is meant to be her lover. 


Into Every Generation? Winter’s Rose v3.0 - Or, I’m Shipper Trash Always and Forever

GRRM loves his sets of three, almost as much as I love Jonrya. The parallels between Lyanna and Arya have been written about a thousand times over. We’re meant to see those two as freakishly similar, from looks to personality. It’s in canon. I don’t think I need to rehash any of that here. 

Likewise, bloomray already addressed a bit of the Jonrya parallels to the Bael story in her post. To briefly reiterate, on Jon’s behalf, Mance as Abel (read: Bael) goes to Winterfell in an attempt to save fArya and bring her home to Jon. Jon is the legend’s Bael by proxy, and Arya Winterfell’s daughter who Jon intends to spirit away from Winterfell. (Note: the 3.0 legend plays out by proxy on both ends, because Mance is Jon and Jeyne is Arya, but whatever). 

Now, surely you’re thinking that I’m reaching here. Look, at little, yes, but let’s look at the framing of Bael in Jon I in ASOS. Jon goes to meet Mance, and it’s revealed that Mance was present during the King’s visit way back in AGOT. Then:

“Bael the Bard,” said Jon, remembering the tale that Ygritte had told him in the Frostfangs, the night he’d almost killed her. 

“Would that I were. I will not deny that Bael’s exploit inspired mine own…but I did not steal either of your sisters that I recall. - Jon I, ASOS

So here Mance likens both Sansa and Arya to the Rose of Winterfell from the initial tale. We’re invited to read all Stark daughters as the Rose of Winterfell. GRRM through Mance is putting Sansa and Arya in the same position as he put Lyanna. If anyone is the Rose of Winterfell/Lyanna Stark in the blue rose image and backstory, it’s Sansa and Arya

But there’s more. We see the tale appear in two important moments where Jon begins his decent into “breaking” his vows. Except he breaks his vows to play the long con on Mance & co. Sure, he bangs and falls for Ygritte (who reminds him of his little sister, which, weird), but he never truly things to break with the Night’s Watch. 

Except he does in ADWD for Arya, Winter’s Rose and Daughter of Winterfell. He tries to steal her from Winterfell, to take part in a war with the Boltons, and thus really and truly breaks the vow that he’s been able to (TWICE befre) resist breaking about taking no part in the affairs of the realm. 

But, you say, either Sansa or Arya could be the Winter Rose. Yeah, maybe, except let’s look back at the original story: 

“Now as it happened the winter roses had only then come into bloom, and no flower is so rare nor precious.”

Sansa flowered in AGOT. Who is expected to bloom and become a woman in TWOW? Arya Stark. Just check out “Mercy” if you need any proof that she’s using her body sexually as a weapon. And who is the most precious to Jon? His heart, the girl he broke his vows for, the girl he gave his dick to in AGOT. ARYA F-ING STARK


Conclusion

The beautiful parallels are there, my dears. Maybe v3 is too much to ask of you, and that’s totally okay. It makes a lot of sense to me, especially since ASOIAF up to this point has been basically an ode to Jonrya. Their love is about canonical as it gets. Platonic? Meh, if you must, but you have a lot of weird sexual thoughts to explain away if you think that’s just brother-sister stuff. 

I would invite you, however, based on the context surrounding the tale of Bael and in light of everything @bloomray said her post, view that prophecy in the HotU not as Jonerys as canon, but as a not-so-subtle nod to Jon’s parentage for the reader to put the pieces together. 

Jet Wolf Summarizes Act 43

The manga and I kind of hate each other. This is unfortunate, but still, I’m determined to come out of this with something. Rather than spend energy on a liveblog that’s increasingly negative, I’m reading each manga act (mostly) silently, and then writing up summaries at the end. I won’t pull my punches. There’s going to be criticism and snark about the manga, either wholesale or in details. If that isn’t a thing you feel like reading, please skip this post!


One of the classic, most beloved tropes in all of literature is that of hubris: an excessive amount of arrogance or pride that leads to the character’s downfall. It’s a basic element of storytelling that we learn from before we’re able to read those stories to ourselves. You’d think, then, surrounded by millennia of cautionary tales, that none of us would fall prey to hubris.

That’s why, I think, it always manages to surprise us when it happens. Feeling you’re safe from the perils of excessive pride: perhaps the greatest act of hubris possible.

These are the thoughts I was left with as I finished Act 43 today. As I dared think for a moment that I could celebrate something in the manga, as I had the audacity to believe this would for a change be a summary filled with mostly pleased commentary. I might even try a bit of deeper analysis! This will be great!

You fool, Jet Wolf. You beautiful, doomed fool.

We open this issue with Concerns About Mamoru, and we stay there for nearly half of the entire thing. Seriously, this act is 49 story pages and we don’t leave Mamoru’s side until Page 21. Yes I am petty enough at this stage to count.

If I were feeling charitable, I might add that probably half of THAT is Big Bad Exposition Theater, but I think you’ll find I am out of charity. Pegasus having the unmitigated gall to praise Mamoru for single-handedly saving the world for the past four seasons doesn’t help. Pegasus says he and Mamoru are both cursed with a black rose growing in their chest, which is somehow both figurative and literal at the same time, and they need to find the golden crystal which is now super more important than the SILVER crystal because it’s really Mamoru’s. I think? I don’t know, the anime never made sense either. It’s all really just an excuse for Mamoru to be all “I AM USELESS I CANNOT PROTECT YOU” A-FUCKING-GAIN.

You know those types of people who insult themselves, and it’s entirely so other people will be “Oh no, that’s not true, let me tell you how wonderful you are!” MAMORU IS ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE AT ONCE. You don’t get to play the “poor useless me” card for the thirteenth time when five minutes ago someone LITERALLY GAVE YOU AND YOU ALONE CREDIT FOR EVERYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED IN THE ENTIRE STORY AND THE STORY ITSELF IS SO IN LOVE WITH YOU IT KIND OF BACKS THAT UP

Also it’s been two days, Mamoru, calm your fucking tits.

WHO DO I PETITION TO SHARE SOME OF MY FUCKING PAIN BECAUSE I COULD DO WITH A PAIN-SHARING BUDDY SYSTEM

By the way, I know I said it was 21 pages before we left Mamoru, but the next page has the Inners talking about him, and I think that should count.

Speaking of, the Inners try to figure out what to do, and this leads them to the conclusion that they wish the Outers were there.

RECORD SCRATCH

WAIT WAIT WAIT

What the shit is this? Seriously? For this entire arc, even when the Inners ostensibly HAVE a chapter, it manages to be about the Outers, which is a separate complaint I’ll scream about in a second. Right now though, I say yet again, THIS IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THIS FUCKING STORY.

Half the drive of the last arc was how the Inners and Outers couldn’t work together. More than that, they literally didn’t get the opportunity.

BECAUSE I AM LITERALLY THIS AGGRAVATED AND PETTY TO DAY, I AM GOING TO GO THROUGH ISSUE BY ISSUE OF THE PREVIOUS MANGA STORY ARC AND RECOUNT THE INNERS/OUTERS INTERACTIONS

By “Inners” I mean specifically Rei, Ami, Mako, and Minako. NOT USAGI. Usagi interactions do not count, because Usagi is not the one conjuring up inspiring images of the Outer Senshi to fuel their power-ups and help them do their basic fucking jobs. With me here on the conditions? I’m looking for the totality of all non-Usagi-based interactions between the Inner and Outer Senshi in the manga Infinity arc. Okay, here we go.

  • Act 27: Haruka and Michiru are at the arcade where they are cool and only speak meaningfully to Usagi and Mamoru. Later, Uranus threatens the non-Usagi Senshi for literally no reason.
  • Act 28: Haruka body slams Mako and then insults, pissing them all off. Michiru is (not) also there.
  • Act 29: The Inners show up just as Uranus runs off. Later, Uranus and Neptune bail them out of their mini-boss fight and are assholes.
  • Act 30: The Outers literally attack the Inners. Later, Ami fights bad guys. Haruka and Michiru are also there.
  • Act 31: Uranus and Neptune + Pluto show at the very end and say nothing.
  • Act 32: Haruka blames the Senshi (including Usagi) for blowing their cover at Mugen. Later, under the Death Buster’s influence, the Inners and Outers try to kill each other.
  • Act 33: Still trying to kill each other when Usagi whines for them to stop and they do. The Inners happen to be in the room when the Outers drop some SilMil backstory. The Outers once again tell the Inners (+Usagi) that they can’t work together.
  • Act 34: The Outers aren’t there for these moments, but as the Inners are attacked, they don’t for a single second draw on the Outers to break free of the spell. Whatever strong motivating connections we’re supposed to believe exist, demonstratively do not to this point in the story.
  • Act 35: The Inners and Outers split up, with Usagi going with the Outers. The Inners are abducted.
  • Act 36: The Inners are unconscious all issue.
  • Act 37: The Inners wake up and get knocked out again. They land next to an Outer, but it’s the end of the world, and so they all just watch dramatically.
  • Act 38: Usagi saves the world, and the Outers take their baby consolation prize and immediately leave.

THAT IS IT FOLKS THAT IS THE ENTIRETY OF THE INNERS/OUTERS RELATIONSHIPS AS ESTABLISHED BY THIS VERY SAILOR MOON MANGA IN ITS PREVIOUS ARC

The best opportunity anybody had for anything at all – by which I mean the two groups were both conscious and present in the same location when the Outers weren’t being assholes to or directly threatening the Inners, and the groups were not actively attempting to murder each other – was in Act 37 when they were separated on rooftops AND THE WORLD WAS LITERALLY ENDING. Everyone was angsting about Usagi disappearing into the maw of Pharaoh 90, to the point where Haruka literally has a screaming breakdown about not being able to protect her.

BUT SURE

SURE TELL ME AGAIN HOW THINKING ABOUT HARUKA, MICHIRU, AND SETSUNA FILLS YOU WITH STRENGTH

TELL ME ABOUT HOW THEIR AWESOMENESS IS THE SOLE INSPIRATION TO BE BETTER AND MORE POWERFUL SENSHI

NOT YOURSELVES OH NO THAT STRENGTH DOESN’T COME FROM YOU

TELL ME AGAIN HOW IT HAS TO COME FROM SOMEONE ELSE BECAUSE YOU LITERALLY AT NO POINT IN THIS ENTIRE GODDAMN STORY HAVE HAD ANYTHING FOR YOUR FUCKING SELVES

I know I’ve said several times over the course of this liveblog project how infuriating and frustrating I find the manga. PLEASE KNOW I HAVE MEANT EVERY FUCKING WORD.

If Takeuchi wanted to go this route, she had AMPLE opportunity to do it. But as with R, it’s like there are two realities: the flat, one-dimensional Usagi/Mamoru-centric story she tells, and the slightly more dynamic story she tries to TELL US she told us after the fact.

I WAS THERE I KNOW THE STORY I GOT AND IT WASN’T THIS

It makes everything that stems out of this limp and flavourless. You can’t hang major emotional points on hooks you never bothered to put up. And I’m frankly insulted that she keeps fucking doing this. YOU HAVE WONDERFUL CHARACTERS RIGHT THERE. YOU ARE THE WRITER. IT’S NOT MY JOB TO GIVE YOUR STORY ACTUAL SUBSTANCE. If you want us to be able to play around with that shit, maybe don’t waste so much of your goddamn time hammering home points you’re going to directly contradict the moment you realize they don’t carry any emotional weight whatsoever.

UGH GOD I’VE BEEN LIKE THREE HOURS AND I HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO MINAKO’S SIDE OF THIS ISSUE


TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO

London Spy:  Danny and Alex

This post is about indulging my id.  I’ve always been most interested in power dynamics between characters and while there aren’t any obvious dom/sub undercurrents between Danny and Alex (aside, I guess, from the obvious implications of the attic) I do see some interesting things in the nature of their relationship.

We can start with a few of the more typical power differentials between them – Alex seems to be from a higher class, and is certainly more wealthy than Danny. I think it’s implied that he’s older than Danny, and he’s taller and more muscular as well.  On the other hand, Danny is much more experienced and, for what it’s worth, in the one sex scene we see, Danny tops. 

More interesting to me is that Danny clearly initiates their relationship – he is the active pursuer, through the whole period of their, as it were, courtship.  He even describes himself as trying to “seduce” Alex (though he is charmingly self-deprecating about his potential success). 

So if I were to write London Spy fic with a power imbalance theme, who would I make the more dominant character and who would be the sub?  I think you could credibly go either way – and in the handful of stories I’ve read so far on AO3, I’ve seen both, in very low-key/implied ways.  And I think both work. 

(I particularly liked Seven Year Revival  by @theaoidos, which includes a couple of lovely passing references implying that Danny would prefer things just a little bit rougher … which happily coincides perfectly with my own head canon.  She also does Alex’ voice very well.)

But back to Danny seducing Alex.  As someone who probably identifies more with Alex than with Danny, I find myself kind of awed at how effective Danny is in his pursuit of Alex and I kind of feel like breaking down how he does it so well. I can identify three distinct techniques: 

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Happiness on the horizon...

Title: Happiness on the horizon
Summary: So, I wrote a bit of a sequel to The Phone Call, cause I love the Captain Cobra Swan dynamic and I wanted to write Henry and Emma’s conversation about her dating Killian. A third part of this story is working through my brain, so stay tuned for that at some point. :)
Word Count: 1130

It’s been three long days since she’s had any time alone with Killian and Emma was bound and determined to not let any resident of Storybrooke get in the way of her much needed time with her pirate. The plan was to meet at the docks and “borrow” one of the boats for a private night on the water, perhaps some stargazing and hopefully more enjoyable activities. As she moved stealthily past the cannery, Emma stopped in her tracks when she saw Henry sitting next to Killian on the end of the pier.

She couldn’t control the pang in her heart seeing them deep in conversation, heads close, as if they were sharing a secret all their own. After Henry called Killian that night in the diner, the two of them had really made an effort to connect more. Emma hadn’t been privy to much of Henry and Killian’s bonding time, as it usually involved boating trips where women, per Henry’s instructions, were strictly forbidden. So, seeing them now she was able to really sense just how close they had become.

She couldn’t help but see the future being laid out in front of her, the real possibility of an actual family with Killian and Henry. She had told Killian those many months ago back in New York that what she wanted and what she thought she could have for her life wasn’t in the cards for her, the Savior. She believed it then, but now, she was starting to have hope that maybe she was wrong. She felt grounded for the first time…well…ever, in her life and the two men at the end of that pier were definitely her anchors. Men, wow, when did she start thinking of Henry as a man and not a kid? She knew he still had a lot of growing up to do and she hoped he would take his time and enjoy what was left of his childhood, despite the constant craziness that was life in Storybrooke. She didn’t have a real childhood and that’s all she wants for him. And, well…a family, which he has in spades…and a hook.

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