This started out as a whole post about how Mashima’s manga is extremely myopic and self-centered when it comes to presentations of family and friendship and nakama. I was going to pull out a bunch of examples, starting with Cobra and including Sting, Natsu vs. Sting and Rogue, and Juvia. But the Cobra part got way too long, so….enjoy this Cobra post detailing how Cobra exemplifies those values a lot better than Fairy Tail and no one seems to notice.
Now, I adored Cobra during the Nirvana arc. He was easily the most anti-villainous of the villains–sure, he was loyal to Brain, was trying to bring about the end of peace in Fiore, and was a smartass who liked to play around with his opponents and taunt them before he killed them. But he was also laid back, easygoing, could laugh at a joke in the middle of a fight, and didn’t tend to attack unless he was ordered. Alongside Angel, while he is a massive dick, it is also immediately apparent from introduction that Cobra is not a monster and has others that he values–Angel has Gemini, Cobra has Cubellios.
But what really seals the deal for me, and makes me think that whatever his goals, Cobra is a decent dude–not just and lawful, but moral–is the end of his fight with Natsu. After he gets back up, ears sore from Natsu’s roar, he holds Natsu down and prepares to kill him, claiming it to be “for the honor of the Six Demons!” Cobra has pride in being a member of his guild and isn’t about to let this loudmouth dragonslayer tarnish it. And a second later, Brain shoots him in the back/shoulder, taking him out for good. And Cobra’s reaction breaks my heart.
“Brain? ….Why? Are you mad?”
He cannot understand why Brain just did that (and, taking logic into account, neither can I, but roll with me here for a sec). Not ‘angry’ mad. He literally thinks Brain must have gone insane to have done what he just did. He never for a second suspected Brain might attack him. Which is saying a lot for Brain, considering Cobra can hear thoughts.
See, his hearing wasn’t gone. He can still hear people’s minds, as evidenced a second later when Brain blatantly and gloatingly thinks about how useless Cobra is and how he should be gotten rid of. The only explanation is that Brain is capable of hiding his thoughts from Cobra–and did so for a long time, otherwise this wouldn’t exactly have come as a shock to Cobra.
Cobra’s last words before he releases his prayer (probably out of spite, if it were me) is to cry and call Brain a traitor. Clearly, this was the last thing he expected. A reminder: this arc was coming straight off the heels of the Fantasia arc, where Laxus went borderline nuts and pretty much turned on everyone around him. We just saw what is ostensibly one of the good guys do what Brain is doing now (putting down someone close to him for being weak) and Cobra’s reaction is just as emotional as the ones we saw at Fantasia. His ass just got betrayed and it hurt.
And, when he comes back for the Key of the Starry Skies arc, it’s apparent he’s undergone the rare negative character development. That is to say, he developed into a more dangerous, more emotional, and overall negative person–not that his character arc suffered.
His snake–friend, closest friend, pet, someone that’s never even thought about hurting him and is with him by choice, not by alliance–is gone. And while he retains a camaraderie with people like Angel, Midnight, and Racer, you can tell all of his enthusiasm is gone. His voice is so dead, so dry, so monotone.
Which….actually really saddens me. Cobra went from the person who was probably the most easily applicable to turn face to the one person short of Midnight who was furthest from it. That hurts. But it also shows how fucked up a person can get when you destroy their bond with you and take away the things that are important to them.
You fucked up a perfectly good character, Brain. Look at him. He’s got anxiety.
Of course, it’s he’s not too far gone. Kinana does come back to him, although I wish she hadn’t. He comes quietly, does his thing at the Dragon King Festival, and slyly makes sure Doranbolt will have to come back for more without messing with his memories.
And then it all comes crashing down. Cobra secures the Seis’ freedoms, gets his revenge on Brain, and then…Jellal.
Look, I will begrudgingly put aside for now the fact that Jellal cannot possibly be strong enough to take on the Seis single-handedly. Right now we’re focusing on character, and how exactly do you think Cobra felt when this went down? Jellal just took Cobra’s ideals and spat on them. Their freedom is a lie. Their idea of family is wrong. Jellal will show you true nakama and freedom–by beating your ass to a pulp. The freedom and companionship the Seis forged together while they were free from Jellal’s reign of terror has to be corrected.
Now, not only is Jellal their former slavemaster and the guy who terrorized their childhoods, but I will remind everyone of just what kind of “family” Crime Sorciere comprised of aside from him: a woman who coldly murdered a little girl’s parents, then raised that little girl as her mother in their place. Crime Sorciere’s family is sick. But at least Ultear gave an impression of actual repentence. I still wonder what Cobra thought of her–no doubt he could hear what was happening when he was temporarily freed for the Dragon King Festival. I also have to wonder what Cobra was thinking given that Meredy did nothing to support her former allies and instead just screamed “Jellaaaaal!” nonstop while he worked his pimp hand. No support at all.
And this pisses me off more than it would had I not already gone into just how Cobra felt about being part of the Oracion Seis. Because there is no more Oracion Seis anymore. No one calls them that–it’s Crime Sorciere now, and don’t you forget it. They have true nakama now, bitches.