Jaune’s Arc: Imitating the Sun
...when they descend into the depths of their own being they find “in their heart” the image of the sun, they find their own life-force which they call the “sun” for a legitimate and, I would say, a physical reason, because our source of energy and life actually is the sun.
The above quote is from Carl Jung, the psychologist whose theories about alchemy, archetypes, and universal symbolism are far more applicable to literature than to human experience. Jungian archetypes are A Thing in storytelling (most have heard of the shadow, for example). I want to explore Jaune's arc from a Jungian perspective, because it's, among all the RWBY main characters' arcs, the most Jungian.
I've alluded to some of Jaune's arc being about transforming into an alchemical "sun" character before (primarily when discussing ships). But in this meta I'll discuss the arc itself, why he's transforming, and how, with callouts to the Jungian symbols used.
Jaune's Transformation to Gold:
As a quick recap, here are how characters are typically "marked" in alchemical stories (as one or the other, with gender in modern stories being obviously the least relevant):
Male: sun, sulphur, fire and air, hot and dry, red, gold, heart.
Female: moon, mercury (or quicksilver), earth and water, cool and moist, white, silver, mind.
As I've said before, at the start of the story, Jaune is very clearly marked as silver with his outfit:
Moon, with his shield design having a clear moon symbol; white and feminine despite being a man (his name's reference to Jeanne d'Arc and the dress he wears to the school dance). He's not mind, though: he's body, the lowest of the heart-mind-body trio. A body character is concerned with the physical and is often marked by cowardice (see, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz).
But something's wrong right away. His name, Jaune, is Spanish for yellow. He's thus gold, despite wearing silver. Not only that, but the moon symbol on his shield is gold too, despite his silver armor. In fact, this moon symbol is actually supposed to be a rainbow. But, well... it looks like an exact copy of the alchemical moon symbol. If you wanted to ensure viewers recognized it as a rainbow, not the way to do it.
But what if this is deliberate, because Jaune is a sun character pretending to be a moon character?
Jaune's entire arc throughout RWBY has been going from a zero to a hero, to quote @aspoonofsugar's great meta here. He starts off the story as a literal faker in every way: he cheated to get into Beacon and doesn't actually belong. He's a pretender.
But why? Well, Jaune thinks he should be some great hero carrying on his family legacy. But at every step, even as he grows into a hero, that’s flouted, because being a hero isn’t what he thought it was as a kid. Being a great hero, carrying on his family legacy (keep in mind he is one of seven kids, each of whom is named after a color in the rainbow; plus, arc-de-ciel is French for rainbow), is about leaving to carry on despite grief, despite rain.
After all, that's what a rainbow is. Jaune plays at being a moon character when he’s supposed to be a sun, a sun that comes out after gray (silver) clouds part and form a rainbow. Even Jaune's semblance moves from silver to gold when healing Weiss, and by the time he calls on it to try to heal Penny, it's gold from the start.
I said before and will repeat: Jaune's changes are a result of integrating with Pyrrha--his Jungian anima. This is not only symbolic and internal, but external and explicitly stated in the show: Jaune's change of his armor to incorporate gold instead of silver is literally because he used the gold from Pyrrha's armor.
Pyrrha as Anima
I spoke before about how in alchemy, characters should move on with their opposites. Pyrrha is red (her name), gold (her outfit), heart and mind, and her shield had a sun on it. Since spending time with Pyrrha and post-Pyrrha's death, Jaune has not only incorporated Pyrrha's physical traits, but has grown to incorporate Pyrrha's internal traits into himself: he's become a heart character (driven by care, bravery, and emotions), a good leader, etc.
Often, though not always, alchemy and anima symbolism can overlap. So, what is anima?
Anima (which means 'soul' and yes has been literally referenced in the show in that it is the name of a continent) is the internal feminine part of a man's soul (animus is the male for a female). Don't take the gender stuff too seriously, please. Anima in literature is often projected onto another character (or characters) symbolically speaking.
Anima exists in four levels, and I think it's pretty clear that Jaune's relationship with Pyrrha follows these steps almost exactly:
Helen (romantic interest)
Mary (religious devotion)
Sophia (wisdom, guide to the inner life)
The Eve phase references, of course, Adam and Eve, wherein the anima acts like a mother figure to the man. I think it's pretty clear that in the first and second season, this is the case with Pyrrha and Jaune (don't make it weird please I know they're the same age). But Pyrrha is the one giving him advice, urging him to grow, mentoring him, nurturing him as he begins to grow out of his "zero" stage. She even protects him when he confides his secret to her.
Jaune is super childish in the first few seasons, even cringe at times, because he wants to be the handsome knight who saves the girl. The problem is that Jaune knows he is not this person. For example, he develops a childish crush on Weiss not because of her personality: instead, he literally develops this crush because he thinks Weiss is interested in him.
Then, their relationship goes to the "Helen" (of Troy) phase: the time Jaune discovers romance. He and Pyrrha start to form a romantic attachment, but it's still rather shallow. Pyrrha likes Jaune for Jaune, but Jaune dislikes himself: hence, he can't fully grasp Pyrrha's feelings for him, because he wants to be loved for his ideal self rather than for whom he actually is. She tries to turn to him for advice about becoming a Maiden, and he doesn't understand what she's asking him because he's still rather immature in some ways. In the end, Pyrrha kisses Jaune before running back to face Cinder and dying.
Pyrrha's death leaves Jaune devastated: he finally found someone who liked him, whom he liked, and then she's gone, just like that. Afterwards, Jaune turns to recordings of Pyrrha to practice so he can keep learning from her, and visits a statue built in her image--pretty clearly symbolic of semi-religious/spiritual devotion (the Mary stage, after the Virgin Mary). By the way, only starting at around the Mary stage can a man form a lasting relationship.
The last stage is Sophia, which is kind of Pyrrha and imo will kind of be another character later. Pyrrha does provide a guide to Jaune's inner life. Jaune's choice to sacrifice Penny at Penny's request is calls back to the choice Pyrrha had to make, which I talked about here as the classical tragic choice of duty or love:
her conflict over the choice was precisely one between love (Jaune) and duty (she knew she would not be able to defeat Cinder, but felt compelled to try).
This choice is echoed in the one Jaune has to make at the end of volume 8. He has to choose between trying to save his friend (love; it doesn't have to be romantic love--in fact many classical Greek tragedies like Antigone do set up the choice between duty and platonic love) even if he knows it's futile (Penny was not going to survive that wound, and she knew it), and between duty: what Penny asked him to do, which was in the best interest of keeping Cinder from getting the Maiden powers. Of course, love and duty blur together here, because Jaune is listening to what Penny wants and does it, even though it breaks him to the point where his sword, the symbol of the family legacy of heroism but which is also silver, actually shatters.
Jaune learns to take Pyrrha's wisdom--the Sophia (Greek for ‘wisdom’) stage--and act on duty and finds that duty and love are not so separate after all: they're more intertwined than he thought. Plus, people are different (a major theme of RWBY) and what they want, what is wise and what is loving, differs for each. The Sophia stage we’re not quite at yet, but will likely come as Jaune wrestles with what happened to Penny and with what to do with Cinder.
Cinder as Shadow
So that's anima. Now, what is shadow?
Shadow is the darker parts of every human being, that we prefer to repress rather than accept. Oftentimes in literature it's represented in the embodiment of another character, because symbolism and projection--ie a character sees another as the embodiment of all their flaws and wants to get rid of them to get rid of all their deficiencies and flaws. However, if you kill your shadow, usually It Does Not End Well--you're supposed to accept it. Jung says that should you attempt to kill your shadow, "the projection-making factor (the Shadow archetype) then has a free hand and can realize its object—if it has one—or bring about some other situation characteristic of its power." In other words, you might just become consumed by your worst traits, and forever be an unfulfilled person.
I think it's pretty clear Cinder is Jaune's shadow. She is irrational, immature, angry, cowardly in many ways, yet also a frightened child deep down. She is spiraling into self-destruction. She does not recognize Jaune nor care about him (what Jaune fears of everyone: that they will not notice him). She takes away Jaune's love interest in Pyrrha and tries to wound another in Weiss. She is what Jaune dislikes about himself embodied in another person who’s chipping away that what Jaune does have.
Jung remarks that when a person encounters their shadow:
he becomes aware of (and often ashamed of) those qualities and impulses he denies in himself but can plainly see in others
This is precisely what the encounter in Mistral on Anima (heh) is about: Jaune thinks he wants to destroy all that is negative about him, kill Cinder like he should have done back then, because then Pyrrha would still be alive.
Jaune: what is wrong with you? How can you be so broken inside... I'm gonna make you pay for what you did, do you hear me? Well? Say something!
Doesn't a lot of this sound like what Jaune could be yelling at himself? Urging himself to say something, do something is precisely what he did in season 1 when being forced to bully Pyrrha, after all.
It's when Cinder goes "who are you again?" that Jaune loses his shit, because his worst fear is that he's utterly useless and no one important. And it's precisely through insisting Cinder recognize him and fight him that he almost gets Weiss killed, and she insinuates it's all his fault:
Cinder: Are you gonna let her die too?
Jaune: Stop messing with me!
Cinder: If that's what you want.
Jaune tries to stab Cinder and cuts at her eyepatch, wounding his shadow, and right after that Cinder attacks Weiss. The symbolism is pretty clear: in Jaune's blindness towards the fact that he should be fighting himself to be a better person, not Cinder, he misses the point and pays with one of his dear friends getting impaled.
In Atlas, Jaune proves he's grown because, while he still fights Cinder (not that she gave them a choice), it's far less personal, and with less projection. He focuses on trying to heal Penny and trusts Weiss to be able to handle herself:
Jaune: My semblance!... Weiss will give us time!
The problem is that he’s still not quite getting it. He has been literally asked to do what Cinder did to Pyrrha and Penny (it’s not the same, of course, but it’s the symbolism of finding himself striking the killing blow to someone who is already down=his worst fears realized). But that above line about Weiss giving them time shows the growth he still has yet to complete when you contrast it with what he said in Haven:
Jaune: If I die buying them time, then it’s worth it. They’re the ones that matter.
To quote @aspoonofsugar again, “In the Battle of Haven he... is trying to superficially imitate Pyrrha’s sacrifice.”
Of course, the situations are nuanced. In Atlas, Jaune wasn’t asking Weiss to die nor leaving her to do so; he was trusting her to do her best. But the point is that Jaune still struggling with understanding Pyrrha’s sacrifice and what it means for how he ought to live, all leading up to that pivotal moment in the volume 8 finale. He went from sacrificing too much as a form of revenge and self-harm to not wanting to sacrifice at all... but when push came to shove, he did sacrifice, choosing not only to let Penny sacrifice herself, but in doing so sacrificing everything he thinks about himself and everything he would like to be.
In other words, Jaune’s arc is still about becoming a hero--but being a hero doesn’t always look great, and doesn’t always make you feel good about yourself.
So, what does that mean going forward?
Well, Jaune is going to have to accept the parts of himself he doesn’t like. Jaune is going to have to accept that he can be like Cinder, and probably influence Ruby as they both wrestle with grief over Penny’s death. Ruby is probably set up to save Cinder (Cinder is also one of Ruby’s shadows, as is Ironwood), but she can only do that if someone gives her a reason to--and in addition to potential relationships with Emerald and Mercury eventually, she might well do so through Jaune too.
But, that’s going to take humility and wisdom. Wisdom, of course, being the Sophia stage, which he’ll continue to grow into as he accepts more and more of his anima. There is a chance--and this is just a theory and does not have to be romantic--that Weiss might be the embodiment of Sophia in the story (“Weiss” is German for white, and German for wisdom is “weisheit”; they have the same root word (Old German wis); wisdom is traditionally associated with white in not just alchemy, but pretty much every source of symbolism, and is often portrayed as a beautiful woman). Also, Weiss admired Pyrrha deeply at first, and wanted to be Pyrrha’s partner, and Weiss is the only other person in the void who saw what happened to Penny. So, Weiss becoming more and more like Pyrrha might help Jaune integrate with Pyrrha as his anima, and may provide some much-needed perspective on what happened with Penny.
Anyways. From continuing to integrate with Pyrrha, he’ll mold into more the sort of real hero he’s always been trying to be; Jaune will shape his destiny.
So, I love your meta and your takes and so I want to know what you think about Xie Qing Cheng's noble idiot phase - more specifically why he doesn't see that what he's doing to He Yu is not really much to He Yu's benefit (I have my theories but I never put things into words/analyze as well and as thoroughly as you do.)
Also, since you've read all three of Meatbun's danmei, which one of her mains is the most screwed up? That one is a tough one for me :P
Ahhhh!!! Thank you; I love your takes too!! I always check out your chapter commentaries because they're so good!
I honestly think it's mostly what I said here: it's not about He Yu at all. It's about Xie Qingcheng lashing out at himself:
Xie Qingcheng is projecting all his internalized homophobia, his internalized ableism over his own mental illness, his own inability to forgive himself, his own immaturity, and his own self-hatred onto He Yu.
As for how he tells himself this is for He Yu's good when it so clearly is not and goes against everything Xie Qingcheng has preached earlier, I think it's twofold, and both of these reasons are rooted in how Xie Qingcheng unconsciously views He Yu as a part of himself, as in many respects a younger him who has the chances Xie Qingcheng doesn't. These reasons are:
Xie Qingcheng hates himself so much that he doesn't think he deserves He Yu, so he's punishing himself by pushing He Yu away; and
Xie Qingcheng views He Yu as a part of himself, so he's hurting He Yu to hurt himself.
Obviously I don't think he's doing this deliberately, and obviously it is contradictory, but the motivations of humans often are just that: we're unable to fully grasp our complexity, and as Xie Qingcheng is someone who is less empathetic than He Yu, he also struggles with getting out of his own head and seeing the world from another perspective.
I've said before, as well, that Xie Qingcheng is very egocentric--in a childlike way. This causes him to see himself in others around him, but that's not actually empathy so much as it is projection. He's simultaneously, paradoxically, trying to save himself by working so hard to save others, and also trying to harm himself because he hates himself.
He really wants to exist. He just doesn't think he has the right to. He's a child struggling to be born, wanting to live but afraid to at the same time.
He ultimately needs He Yu because, strangely enough, He Yu helps him feel alive.
As for her mains... in order from Most Messed Up to Least:
*sweats* but yeah, that’s my list.
Why don't you like how Sun and Blake's relationship has been handled?
Well, simply because it has not really been handled (at least imo) and that is the problem :’’’)
I think Sun as a character suffers from the same problem Adam has... aka they could not decide what role they wanted him to have in the story and so it ends up damaging the character.
Or to better say, they probably knew what kind of role Sun (and Adam) had to have, but they tried to convey/realize too many things with him and the end result is not the best.
First of all, I think Bumbleby was supposed to be the end result since the beginning:
Black the beast descends from shadows.
Yellow beauty burns gold.
The Beauty and the Beast motif is linked to Blake and Yang since the red trailer. Moreover, Yang losing her arm because of Adam is something foreshadowed in the Yellow Trailer:
Scathing eyes ask that we be symmetrical, one sided and easily processed. Yet every misshapen spark's unseen beauty is greater than its would be judgement.
And in general, the Black and Yellow Trailers set up Blake and Yang’s foiling. Blake runs away from a conflict and disappears as a shadow, while Yang runs into a conflict and rises as the sun:
To top it off they are also each other’s partners, so there is no reason to think their fight with Adam in Mistral and its implications were not planned since the beginning.
And I am not even mentioning all the songs like BMBLB (vol 4 I think) and All That Matters (volume 5).
That said, Blake and Sun do receive a lot of romantic teasing, which is never really solved, was unnecessary and imo blurried both the set-up of Bumbleby and Sun’s character arc.
BLACK SUN - ROMANTIC TEASING
A quick recap of the romantic teasing between Blake and Sun, just in case.
Sun starts flirting with Blake the moment he sees her, Blake goes to the dance with him and blushes at him during the Vytal Festival (while a love song is playing, but we’ll get back to this song later):
After this, we have Blake and Sun’s interactions in volume 4 and 5. In these volumes, Blake stops showing any form of romantic interest in Sun (I think, it has been a while though), but it is implied Sun still has feelings for Blake:
Every smile, every glance
Could be another chance
That you'll finally see
The love that is me
So until that time
I'll follow every day
Every step of the way
And continue to say
Go where you need to
Know I won't leave you
I'll follow you like morning follows night
At the same time, though, their interactions are full of jokes/tropes usually found in slap-stick comedies...(btw this is also why the discourse about Blake “being abusive” for slapping Sun or Sun “being creepy” for stalking Blake is missing the context imo). Like, meeting the parents with the mother teasing the relationship and the father disliking the partner is a romantic trope.
LOVE TRIANGLE OR UNREQUIRED LOVE?
I don’t think the problem is that there is romantic teasig between Sun and Blake, but that nothing is really done with it.
The way I see it, there could have been two ways to solve this.
1) The classic love triangle.
You have two characters fall for the same person and in the end the person chooses one.
This trope is often considered cheap, but it really does not have to be. The way to have it work is to actually give the choice of the partner a thematic meaning... basically the protagonist of the triangle is not just choosing a partner, but a specific ideal or way of living.
For example, in the Twilight Saga (yep, we are using Twilight examples) Bella choosing Edward over Jacob is not just about choosing a boyfriend. It is about choosing the life of a vampire over that of a human.
Similarly, Katniss choosing Peeta over Gale in the Hunger Game is her choosing a specific ideology over another.
Like, triangles are actually pretty common in narratives, even when they are not romantic. In Arcane, we have Jinx having to choose between Vi and Silco and Vi will probably have to choose between Jinx and Cait. Similarly, in the X-Men- Days of a Future Past, there is Raven that must choose between Doctor Xavier’s way of life or Eric’s.
Now, the problem with the Blake-Yang-Sun situation... is that Sun does not really represent an alternative way of life compared to Yang. If anything, Adam does and Blake chooses Yang as a sign of her growth.
So, I think the point of Sun and Blake is actually the trope of unrequired loved.
It is actually pretty much stated in the two Black Sun’s songs mentioned above.
In Like Morning Follows Night, there is this:
See, you'll never understand
What I feel, what I see
Trying to search for this happiness
Lost in the lights
But it seems that it's all
Just out of my sight
Just out of my reach,
Can't seem to get it right
Like I'm cursed with this turbulence
Yet I still believe in you
Every breath, every word
Every smile, every glance
Could be another chance
That you'll finally see
The love that is me
While Not Fall in Love with You is basically an unrequired love song:
Girl of my dreams you would make my life complete
But you're a distant dream to me
Then I know and I know that you're--
Out of my league
How could it ever be?
What am I supposed to do-
Just sit here and not fall in love with you?
The theme of unrequired love is also the one that fits Blake’s story the best. She is recovering from an abusive relationship with a possessive boyfriend, who is ready to kill her and her loved ones. Because of this, someone like Sun that openly flirts with Blake, but who is ready to help her selflessly and lets her go once he realizes Blake has feelings for another person... could be a great part of Blake’s healing plot-line (and he still is).
However, even if this is clearly what the authors were aiming for, it still does not come across as strongly for two reasons.
a) At Beacon Blake shows some kind of interest in Sun.
b) Sun’s unrequired feelings and him giving up on Blake are never fully addressed.
Ok, here we arrive at what I mentioned at the beginning aka how I think that the writers tried to do too many things with Blake and Sun’s relationship. They should have probably only focused on the unrequired love trope. However, they chose to do two additional things with Black Sun (imo).
TEEN IMMATURE LOVE
I think the writers have decided to use the Vale arc as some kind of happy childhood/adolescent phase arc:
Ren: It's been a long time. We've all grown in our own ways.
Ruby: You really think so?
Ren: Well, think back to when we were all at Beacon, would you say you ever did anything foolish or embarrassing? Or do you think you were perfect?
When it comes to love, they probably wanted to explore the idea of teen love and crushes, both very common in adolscence.
Have you noticed that (with the exception of Renora and maybe Emercury) none of the characters actually go to the dance with their true partner/love interest?
Jaune tries to go with Weiss and finally asks Pyrrha out. However, despite their relationship being deep, Pyrrha dies in volume 3 hence if Jaune has a final love interest, it won’t be her.
Ruby goes alone and states she dislikes dances.
Weiss shows interest in Neptune, but their relationship has not been mentioned since then and I am fairly sure Weiss is not ending up with Neptune.
Finally, Blake goes with Sun even if Yang is clearly the reason she goes in the first place. Moreover, she and Yang still dance together.
So, it is as if Beacon is a time to explore different partners and love stories, while they are still all growing. Honestly, it is the same idea behind how love stories are handled in the sit-com Alexa and Katie :P. Both girls there have two different boyfriends. The first one is puppy love, while the second one is linked to more serious issues the two characters have.
Here, it is the same, but while it works well for Jaune and Weiss, I am not sure it works as well for Blake.
I mean, Pyrrha is a central character in Jaune’s arc, but her premature death makes so that if Jaune were to finally find a new love interest... it would not feel forced or cheap. Especially because narratively a lot of focus has been given to him grieving Pyrrha and his arc keeps echoing Pyrrha’s throughout the narrative. Even if Jaune were to find a new love, his love for Pyrrha would not become meaningless.
When it comes to Weiss instead, Neptune is so not important to her arc and they have basically zero meaningful interactions (the only important one is actually about Jaune actually), that it is easy to read their relationship in volume 2 and 3 as a superficial crush.
However, Sun is an important character in Blake’s storyline and his feelings for her are not really solved in a meaningful way.
Moreover, we do not even see Blake’s relationship with him change. It is not that it is given space for the audience to see Blake develop a crush for him, get over it and truly fall in love with Yang. Everything happens all together and it is not elaborated on. So, we see Blake going to the dance with Sun, but also dancing with Yang and being desperate when Adam hurts Yang, etc.
This happens because of my next point.
PLAYING WITH BIAS
As many people have noticed, Blake’s story is basically a deconstruction of the cute kitty girl stereotype (and this is awesome).
She is a cat faunus and her story is full of romantic tropes...
She has an ex and mysterious boyfriend who is initially presented as a an anti-hero.
She also meets an energetic selfless guy who falls for her on sight and follows her around to help her.
These are two very common romantic storylines set-up, but they are both subverted. On one hand Adam is not a broding anti-hero Blake has to heal, but an abusive and manipulative stalker. On the other hand Blake does not have to fall for Sun as a reward for him helping her.
Blake instead falls in love with Yang and both characters grow on their own as people, so that then they can be together despite their past traumas.
The idea is great really, 10/10. However, the execution is not flawless. Like, subversion is actually hard to make. You have to build things up and to play with people’s expectations.
Blake’s arc has a lot of romantic subversions and they were supposed to be all strongly set-up in volume 1 and 2. We are talking of the narrative setting up 3 (Adam, Sun and Yang) and I say 3 romantic relationships at once. In the two shortest volumes. With eps that are 5 minutes long. In an ensembled cast show.
A really ambitious project :’’’)
I would not say the end result is terrible (a 6-7/10), but it is not even as strong as say... She-ra’s handling of hetero-ships... that is an example of a successful play with people’s bias and expectations. It is smart, tongue-in-cheeck and meaningful. The hetero relationship as treated with the same care of the queer ones in the series. They even foil the queer ones. But in the end the same sex coupld all kiss, while none of the hetero ones do. It is a way to convey how it usually is for LGBTQ people to see their ships built up, but without a final cathartic kiss XD.
Anyway, I think Black Sun as a relationship wanted to do something similar, but I think it is not so neat.
The problem with filling Blake and Sun’s interactions with romantic tropes is that they take away screentime that could be used to actually give proper development to Sun.
Like, I think Sun and Blake’s time in Menagerie is not really used effectively when it comes to Sun’s character. This is probably partly because volume 4 as a whole is the weakest one and has some structural problems (basically I think they tried to adapt the same structure of their shortest eps to longer ones and it failed).
Anyway, the point is that in volume 4 we could have had Sun’s arc set up in a much stronger way than it is in the series.
We could have had a moment where Sun is openly turned down by Blake. Or a moment where Sun realizes because of something Blake does or says that she is in love with Yang. Both situations would have >>>
1) Cleared the Black Sun confusion and changed people’s expectations
2) Driven home the point of Sun’s character in Blake’s story more clearly - he is not the brave love interest that wins his lady’s love, but a turned down boy who is still a good person and a loyal friend
At the same time, we could have had Sun’s flaw which is hinted at in volume 6 and explored in Before the Dawn explored more.
In BTD we are said this:
Sun didn’t rise to Scarlet’s bait, which was pretty strange. But it also wasn’t his style to devote himself to a cause like this. He usually went wherever his whims took him, whether that was across the sea to help a friend or to get noodles at three in the morning. To pledge to fight a big cause with no clear solution or end in sight? That really didn’t sound like Sun. Maybe his time with Blake in Menagerie had changed him.
This is an example of telling and not showing... really in the series this never comes up nor it is ever explored. It does not contradict the story. It actually makes sense when considering what little we know of Sun and if we reread some interactions with Blake using this interpretative key. However, it is surely not one of the main topic explored in Blake and Sun’s relationship, while I think it could have been great if it were.
And these are my main thoughts on the whole Black Sun/Sun Wukong topic. Like with Adam, I don’t think the end result is terrible or the basic idea is not good. But I also think this is not where the series writing shines and I am not surprised people invested in a ship that was teased and never properly addressed are angry for how things turned out. You should not give people a reason to care if you are not going to pay off the build up. In this case paying off did not have to be a SunXBlake is canon, but a way to solve their bond similarly to how Jaune’s crush for Weiss is solved in volume? Yep, I think that was due and would have made things less blurried. People would still be disappointed probably, but at least they might have felt less cheated.
Of course, since Sun’s story is not over we might discover some other reason behind the choices made. Still, in an ongoing series pacing is still a thing, so...
Thank you for the ask! Analyzing Black Sun has actually been rather fun and it made me appreciate it, Bumbleby and Blake’s arc more tbh :’’’)
Do you think the snk anime will have a different ending from the manga?
Hexie are at a very tragic and painful point of their story. Where are they headed?
(but then, Up).
But yeah, they aren't at rock bottom yet, even if it seems incredibly painful :’’’)
Listen, He Yu dug his path to rock bottom in chapters 50-60, and now he’s reaping what he’s sown. Xie Qingcheng has the right to tell him to bug off after what happened. The problem is that Xie Qingcheng is digging his own path to rock bottom right now, so like... I’m screaming exactly what I’d screamed at He Yu every time he engaged in a pigheaded denial of what he’d done, except now at the opposite character: stop before you make it worse for yourself later, Xie Qingcheng! I can hear Meatbun’s knives sharpening from across the globe!
But Xie Qingcheng is lashing out at He Yu in such a brutal way not because he doesn’t love He Yu, not because he hates He Yu, but because he hates himself.
Xie Qingcheng can tell himself he’s doing it to protect He Yu all he wants, but what what he’s doing has nothing to do with He Yu and everything to do with him.
It’s just another way for Xie Qingcheng to hurt himself.
Let’s contrast this nightmare with the last time Xie Qingcheng tried to leave He Yu (before the love confession). Xie Qingcheng was pleading with He Yu to take care of himself, to try to be better, and revealed that his own insecurities were also playing a role in him assuming he couldn’t help He Yu:
Even if in this moment Xie Qingcheng is thinking about his own failures, he is also thinking about He Yu’s wellbeing--very much so.
He’s absolutely not doing that in these latest chapters. He’s cruel, he’s playing on He Yu’s worst fears, he’s literally tearing apart every good memory He Yu has (normal breakups don’t tear those apart) and manipulating--I’d even say gaslighting to quote @dangermousie--him.
Well, for the same reason The Club Scene happened. (For the record, I’m not morally equating these scenes, but instead pointing to the characters’ internal motivations!)
In the club, He Yu tried to force Xie Qingcheng to experience the humiliation, self-hatred, and alienation from any sort of help He Yu felt. Like, that’s why He Yu deliberately tells Xie Qingcheng he can call for help if he can get over his pride, and Xie Qingcheng doesn’t. It’s an illusion of a choice, like He Yu felt at the time that he had an illusion of being able to live a normal life, but the one person who told him he could live even as a mentally ill person just said he didn’t deserve to live (or so He Yu thought).
In the current scene, Xie Qingcheng is projecting all his internalized homophobia, his internalized ableism over his own mental illness, his own inability to forgive himself, his own immaturity, and his own self-hatred onto He Yu.
Now Chen Man--who is a cop, remember--has overheard, and I am betting he’s going to take Xie Qingcheng at his word and go after He Yu for the club incident. What a mess.
Hurting people hurt people.
But the thing is, the path towards accepting each other also means accepting themselves. Xie Qingcheng will never be able to be with He Yu until he accepts that he needs to get over himself, and by that I mean accept his own flaws and weaknesses as things that don’t have the slightest effect on whether or not he deserves to exist. He Yu, likewise, needs to get over himself and prove that he will never do something so terrible ever again (he’s further along in his development though, lol).
At this point, it is funny to me how the dynamic has reversed, in that Xie Qingcheng also has a valid reason now to feel ashamed and undeserving of He Yu’s love--which will probably continue despite it. So, there’s a way for them to meet as equals and find forgiveness and absolution for themselves and for each other.
Plus justified shame meeting unconditional love is kinda my favorite trope ever.
Watching/listening to the RWBY Volume 8 commentary (something I recommend doing for all volumes btw), when they came to the episode with Cinder's backstory they explained their intention as making us "kinda feel bad for Cinder, but not completely sympathize" with her. So contrary to what the "male authority figures bad, angry evil females actually good" crowd believes, I'm starting to think a Cinder redemption arc has more or less been thrown out the window.
I disagree with your conclusion, but I do agree that the sentiment does highlight what I see as an example of misreading among the fandom.
For why I disagree, I have a rule: never ever ever ever take creator commentary without a shaker of salt. No creator is going to give away secret future twists in a statement, and sometimes they outright lie. See for example Horikoshi Kohei once saying that Shigaraki couldn't be redeemed, when he is now being redeemed. Creators trying to explain their works face an impossible task and often contradict themselves, because we use stories to explore complex ideas a lot of the time. To quote Dostoyevsky:
“Don't let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.”
But this principle aside, I think you're missing context. The context of the Volume 8 commentary is, well, Volume 8. Cinder seemed to be on a precipice here and made choices that led to her spiraling further into villainy. Of course you want to set up sympathy, but you're not going to have the audience screaming for her redemption right before she makes a horrible choice (or series of horrible choices). That's not a great writing choice.
Sympathy for a character must matter; to quote a Jenny Nicholson, the worst thing a work can do is make fans feel stupid for caring in the first place. If they are asking us to care about Cinder, even if not excuse her, I very much think that's in line with redemption.
However, I also have been saying over and over that I do not think Cinder will survive her redemption, and this quote kinda reinforces that to me (with grains of salt!)
I've talked about this at length before, but just to reiterate: I'm not against redemptive death even if it is one of my least favorite tropes; the reason it's a least-favorite trope and gets pushback lately is because it's become not only over-used but cheapened (as in, the set up is not specifically for this, and the writer is clearly just taking an emotional punch and avoiding answering other difficult questions like what if they survived?). I don't think this will be the case with Cinder. I'm not opposed to her surviving; the set up currently though, what with Cinder having a major role in the two major tragedies so far (both with her killing girls who are associated with red, just like Cinder is) doesn't look good. Plus, I think the set up is for Emerald and Mercury to survive their redemptions, and hence those pesky forgiveness questions will not necessarily be avoided.
But! As I said earlier, I do think your ask highlights the fandom issue. I think RWBY is the Twilight Zone of fandoms: I've never seen a fandom have such double-standards for male characters. Every other fandom, the female characters are the ones that get the double standards. And I know there is a subset of dudebros on YouTube and Rebbit (probably?) who probably still embody this, and are still licking their fragile toxic masculinity after RWBY deconstructed it and the girls in heels and short skirts sometimes are ending up with other girls instead of them.
This fandom, though... I'm sometimes baffled by how Mercury is treated in comparison to Cinder. Like, I know he has less development, but his backstory is such a punch, and every time he appears on screen his conflict is built up, that I am sometimes stunned that the woobifying is placed on Cinder and not on him--and like, by all means woobify both, but sometimes I see analyses that literally pit Emerald + Cinder against Mercury as Redeemable vs Irredeemable, and that is just textually wrong. Merc's the one who has the extreme wooby backstory and is likely to end up friends with RWBY+JNOR. He has the set up to survive redemption. He's clearly an abused child still being abused. Like, he's Cinder trapped with the Madame, wherein his Madame is Tyrian and Salem, and he has no Rhodes. I do not like this. I do not like this at all.
Like, Mercury gets called out on smiling after Beacon's destruction as an example of how he's truly sadistic while people handwave Cinder's murder of Pyrrha--which was fully unnecessary, by the way, because Pyrrha was already defeated. Cinder just killed her because she wanted to kill her for... reasons. I'm not saying write texts on how Cinder is the worst or anything; I love her and think she's going to ultimately be the one who saves everyone, but my goodness, be intellectually honest with yourselves.
Anyways. I do think the fandom has issues, though honestly those issues are probably reactionary and caused by legit pain (how female and queer characters are treated in 99% fandoms). But that doesn't make these reactionary takes textually supported or fair, or even not uncomfortable in their real world subtext (male abuse victims... do face obstacles in having their pain recognized).
Do you think mxtx deals with themes of self worth in all of her stories? I'm thinking of luo binghe, wei wuxian, xie lian, and hua cheng specifically...but also shen jiu, jiang cheng, jin guangyao and mu qing....are there similarities? Differences?
Yup. Honestly, I think it's very human--it's a part of the human experience to address the concepts of self-worth. Trauma is so traumatic because it desecrates that sense of self-worth, and it's so very hard to get it back for many of us.
There is also a human tendency to try to see ourselves as better than others--be that morally or spiritually or ability-wise or class-wise, etc. Society is all too often structured around this.
How do we reconcile these two disparate, yet universal, aspects of being human? How do we do this with the human limits of being just one person--even if a god or a demon or a sect leader or whatnot?
All of her characters are limited by humanity, and yet it's also their greatest strength (empathy). MXTX's works are, I think, so popular across cultures because they address these specific questions and ideas.
Let's Smile, Himiko Toga
There's something about Dabi's phrasing here "the world doesn't care whether you're smiling or crying" to paraphrase that struck me as especially meaningful in regards to both Dabi and Toga's characters. They are people who both have a tendency to smile instead of cry when in great distress, and everyone around them uses their unusual expressions as evidence of their villainry.
Shigaraki, Toga, and Dabi all served the scapegoat role to their family to a certain extent, they were all problem children where their parents didn't see them as children, but rather as the problem-maker in their household. I once wrote a meta comparing the Shimura and the Todorokis basically saying that despite Touya literally dying, and coming back from the dead, and the whole family getting a second chance with him, the Todorokis basically view him the same way as they did when he was a child.
Even though Endeavor was the problem-maker in the household, Touya was unfairly blamed as the problem child. Rather than confront Endeavor those around him chose to instead, tell Touya to quiet down, and simply stop reacting to his father's ignorance of him. This mirrors how anyone in the Shimura household could have stepped up to confront Koutarou's unfair punishment of Tenko for wanting to be a hero just like any other kid his age, before it ramped up to physical abuse, but they instead tried to gently persuade Tenko to give up on his dream instead.
Therefore, nothing has truly changed and the Todorokis recreate the same unhealthy dynamic they always have had, Endeavor remains the hero, Touya remains the scapegoat to be blamed. Even though nothing that happened in his childhood is truly his fault.
So returning to these lines, people don't care whether or not you're smiling or crying. For Touya it's a reference to no matter how they choose to present themselves, people are always going to view them in a certain way. Touya is the scapegoat of his family. Even before he became a villain. When he was just a twelve year old, his family's perspective of him was very uncharitable.
Rei knew that Touya was just a child that wanted his father's attention, but that came across very differently in how she acted with him, following Endeavor's rules and trying to persuade him to give up on getting his father's attention, even acting afraid fo Touya when he resembles his father. In doing so she slides the blame on Touya.
I mean, just to illustrate my point if you look at the situation was Touya's perspective his behavior is completely reasonable. Touya was groomed, separated from other children, told he was special and he belonged in a different world. Told that he needs to practice and train to stop All Might. He was raised on those words.
He repeats those words to Rei later. Touya can't adapt to the change, because the change doesn't make sense in his mind. He was used to getting all this attention, but suddenly he's not getting it, it's like he's being punished when he didn't do anything wrong. He can't figure out what he's doing wrong so he tries to fix it, but in his attempts to fix it following everything he's been taught beforehand, training good, he's gotta work hard to get his father's approval, he was born to be a hero, that's suddenly no longer good any more and Touya's parents never put any effort at all into trying to bridge the gap to Touya or help him adjust to the situation.
Like I said, Touya's entire arc revolves around the idea of how his family views him. Almost everyone in the household, except Shoto who was too young at the time didn't know him. Fuyumi brushes off Touya's attempts to train like it's not a big deal to him, Natsuo doesn't get why Touya is talking his ear off about their father at night (they're also too young to properly comprehend), Rei at least tries to understand that Touya is just a child in need of attention from his father but her fear of endeavor reflected in her children makes her distant from all of them, and Endeavor has no intention of changing or course correcting. How unseen Touya's distress was in his own household, is brought up multiple times. Endeavor is just now, remembering that his son literally cried and pulled his own hair out in his attempts to get his attention. The memory was blurry for him before.
Touya mentioned his father never even bothered to notice or care, that he was crying his eyes out nearly every day about his father's neglect. We're even shown in the flashback itself, Touya acts confrontational and demanding with his mother, attention hungry with his father, but when he's all alone he's so overwhelmed by emotion he literally starts crying because that's how he feels about his neglect, abandoned to the point where it overwhlems him with tears.
Touya's entire story is about how literally no matter what face he shows to people, even his own family is determined to characterize him in the worst way possible. Even when he was just a twelve year old so overwhelmed he was constantly crying and sad, nobody even bothered to look at his distress. Even before he was a villain, he was villainized for normal kid stuff, like... wanting his father's attention. This continues far into adulthood, when Dabi angrily accuses Hawks of murdering Twice, Twice questions if he's really sad about it because he shows a smiling face in that moment. Touya can't even feel sad for his friend dying even though Hawks witnessed him trying to protect Twice, without Hawks accusing him of villainy.
This is why Dabi tells Toga to not show anybody her tears, to smile instead of crying, because in everything Dabi's experienced so far everything's told him that nobody cares about his internal world or what he's feeling inside. People have already made up their mind about what he is and have decided to demonize him. This is also probably why Dabi doesn't bother to socialize with others, and has isolated himself for a long time in the first place. He says as much to Rei. Why would I want to play with normal kids? They belong in a different world than me? They don't understand me.
Why would Dabi think other people would understand him when his own family is so committed to misunderstanding him, when Dabi can make a live broadcast on television about how endeavor raised him in his household and people are just like "oh that Dabi is annoying an insane." Dabi doesn't open himself to others and only shows them a smiling mask because deep down inside he believes that no one will ever give him a fair shake anyway so why bother expose himself.
However, that's what makes his decision to open up to Toga just a little bit this chapter so meaningful. I think it's important for perspective to realize Dabi and Toga's relationship hasn't really been good so far, and that actually matters. Dabi from introduction has picked Toga out as a remorseless psycho. He characterized her rather the same way that others have characterized him. Even during team bonding moments like immediately after Twice's death when Spinner was trying to convince the group and Toga to stay together, Dabi screamed in her face he doesn't care and she can do whatever she wants. All of that matters because it's such a contrast to this moment. Dabi hasn't been acting like a good big brother around Toga so far, he's been acting like an asshole, she has almost no reason to think he's kind, or that he's doing anything but using her.
However Toga, the most emotionally intelligent character in the league. Who was able to see Twice's distress and empathize with him. Who was the first oen to see Shigaraki's faith in all his friends along with Twice. She's willing to see the kindness in his actions that his family isn't.
And this is specifically why Touya has avoided making friends until now, because he was convinced no one could even understand him if he tried. He simply belonged in a different world than others. His own family can't even recognize him with a little bit of hairdye, so why bother?
We're meant to draw a line between Toga's self reflection all this chapter and Touya's. It's actually clever, because we're not shown nearly as much and in detail of Toga's emotional abuse. We never see her get hit like Shigaraki, we never see her break down crying over it like Touya in his two flashback chapters. We only see the moment she snapped. However, everything in this chapter goes to suggest how little her parents cared to try to understand Himiko, and how quickly they gave up on her. They stopped measuring her height against the wall when she was three years old just before her quirk manifested. They literally tell her to her face no one will ever accept her the way she is. They threw away everything in her room, and let the whole place be vandalized. Did they even wait for their daughter to come home, or were they relieved she left?
Toga is different from Touya and Tenko, because she was younger when her villainry "started". As far as we know Shigaraki didn't debut as a villain until he was legally an adult during the UA invasion incident. Touya didn't debut as a villain until Stain's rise to power. Toga's first violent incident was in middle school. Even in our society, violent stabbing incidents between middle schoolers is a thing that happens sometimes, and while it's complicated legally in japan Toga wouldn't be tried as an adult, and even if she went to juvenile detention center that record would be sealed once she turned eighteen. However, the case seems to be different in Hero Society. Number one, we have in VIgilantes as teenage girl vigilante being labeled as a villain for her first offense, and having Endeavor go after her fully with the intent to kill. Aoyama was taken hostage under extremely extenuating circumstances, yet he's tied up in maximum security prison, and has been threatened with not only arrest, but evidence of his arrest showing up on his permanent record even if he changes sides and helps the heroes. We are given all indications that hero society isn't exactly lenient even on first offenses for children.
However, Toga could have been saved much much earlier. If on her first violent incident she got the help she needed, b/c her freakout in middle school was very clearly a cry for help and attention. Like. This is pretty obviously a metaphor for self-harm.
Touya and Toga even follow a similiar pattern with their quirks. At first they only harm themselves, Toga biting her wrist and sucking her own blood, (like such an obvious metaphor for slitting her wrists do I even need to point him out) and Touya at first all he did was burn himself while practicing with his quirk in an attempt to bring attention. When that wasn't enough, only then, did they start lashing out and using their quirks against others in desperation.
However, the labeling of Toga as a demon child happened before she even started harming anyone, by her own parents. While it may be reasonable to call Toga a demon child for now being a serial murderer with several kills to her name, it was the act of labelling her a villain in the first place,t hat not only got the ball rolling, but also prevented her from getting help every single opportunity she needs to.
So another thing with Toga and Touya both being given the worst possible least charitable interpretations by not only their own families, but also the heroes around them, is that it's clearly had an affect on Toga.
Uraraka characterizes Toga's actions as entirely superflous, her motiations as spur of the moment, and she also jumps to assuming that Toga just killed that old lady when she could have sucked her blood and left her alone. Characterizing her with the worst interpretation possible. However, when looking at the situation from Toga's perspective, why she did this, why she transforms into others and even why she kills.
After witnessing Jin's death, Toga seems to confirm in her own mind what she's been suspicious of for awhile. That heroes won't come and save a person like her. It goes all the way back to Toga's fight with Curious. Out of all the villain vs villain matchups, Toga is the only person whoa actually kills her counterpart on the MLA. Shigaraki even spares Re-Destro. So wy, only Toga, why does she only kill her clear foil on the MLA. You could say it's because HOri didn't want to write another female villain, but considering the actual context of the fight itself, Toga's decision to kill is motivated very specifically by one thing.
She was terrified for her life. Toga suffered the most mortal wounds in her fight. She was literally surrounded by a crowd of people who all turned against her. Toga while running away in the crowd, murmurs to herself repeating to a psychotic extent she has to do all of these things so she doesn't get caught, she has to blend in, she has to be sensitive to how other people behave and transform herself. All to protect herself. All to keep running away. So, we arrive at the answer of why did Toga kill Curious?
Because she was fucking terrified for her life and in that situation she was convinced it was kill or be killed.
Toga is uniquely a child in the League of Villains, and more than that, a runaway child with one violent incident who started ramping up shortly after she joined the league. If she was caught after running away before she joined the league, in a normal society, she'd most likely wouldn't even be tried as an adult. However, this is hero society where Toga has every reason to believe that since she's been labeled as a villain and hunted down like a villain by heroes, that heroes like Endeavor are going to come after her with lethal force and burn her alive. THis is once again, something Endeavor did literally onscreen, and burned a bystander and got no punisment for. This is something Heroes are allowed to do, so Toga is completely reasonable in her belief that no hero is going to come save her, and if they do corner her they're just as likely to go for the kill as the arrest.
So Touya is characterized by this prevasive belief that he's always going to be going through whatever he is going through alone, because no one will understand him. Touya himself is so isolated he can't even accept that he might have burned Toga's house down as a gesture of kindness. He insists he isn't kind, he's just using Toga, that she's wrong about him, because that's all Touya knows about himself. Touya has only ever been seen as Endeavor's son and nothing else, so even while being cast away from his family he still characterizes everything he does as to get revenge against Endeavor and be Endeavor's villain because the way he was raised he has no other way of seeing himself.
While Toga believes deep down to her core, that she's going to be killed and eradicated for being born with the quirk she was born at. Like the dream wasn't subtle,s he dreams of a red bird piercing her through the stomach and dancing in the blood. I wonder what that was a metaphor for. Maybe, Hawks gutting Twice with the knife? Toga says that her motivation for killing people is to love and become them, but if you analyze her actions, she's a runaway girl desperately afraid the heroes are going to hunt her down for her deviant quirk, so she has to do anything she can, even transform herself into other people, to pass herself off as normal and keep hiding.
They are two people whose families and the people around them have committed to interpreting them and their actions in the worst way possible, while turning a blind eye to their inner distress. Touya is just the villain of the family, even Endeavor whose directly responsible for creating him can't separate seeing his son from being a villain, and Toga is a just a pleasure killer who kills on a whim.
However, Touya's original reason for stating he didn't want to connect with people was that he lived in a different world from them, and normal people would never understand the feelings inside of him and what he was going through. It seems slowly but surely, just by opening up a little bit to Toga, that Touya is backing off on that stance. While normal people would never understand, or even care to understand, what's going on inside Toga and Touya's head no matter what face they show the outside world. The truth is Touya and Toga's situation has changed somewhat since they found each other in the league. Touya is now able to see that Himiko has a heart underneath her psychotic actions. Toga is the first person to describe Dabi as kind. Even if their families views on them haven't changed one bit, Touya's views are slowly starting to change as he realizes there are people in the world who suffered the same way he did when he was under Endeavor. For the first time he seems to look past his own trauma, and see that just like him, Toga was a child that was ignored that she's doing all this for a reason. And Toga as well, receives reassurance from Touya for the first time. He actually tries to comfort her when she's faced with the fact that no one, no normal person, will probably ever try to understand her. He tries to give her an answer to what her parents told her "No one will ever accept you the way they are."
And his answer is, well, laugh anyway. Even if they don't accept you, you're here laughing with us in the end. Touya's insistence was that he could never make friends because being from a different world they would never be able to understand him, but now he's finally found people who do understand. So I'm excited to see where we'll go from here.
Hello, I hope you're doing fine;) out of curiosity, have you ever read The Worm Ouroboros by Eddison? From what I've understood of your tastes, I'm not sure it would be your cup of tea, but it would be interesting to know your thoughts about it. Have a nice day!
I have not, but I am intrigued by the author's ties with Tolkien and Lewis. I might have to check it out!
I think the only sensible thing that can be used from hawks recordings is maybe what touya said that was blacked out (assuming he didnt say his name) which can maybe lead them to finding out something about the missing 10 years like a clue? Otherwise turning toga against dabi kinda doesn't work within the given timeframe it's time for resolution not more drama
Yeah, I think Occam’s razor is that he said his name. I completely agree about the timeframe being about resolution. I’m also just not sure that what Dabi said would be a statement that would shock the League. It’s not as of Dabi has made grand sweeping statements of loyalty or adoration. He’s always been upfront about his desires and talked down to them many times, didn’t even tell them he was Touya… which they all know. It’s not a shock.
In short, I think the recording is probably a nonstarter that won’t happen.
what ships do you like or think will be canon in rwby? :)
I don't think I am the best person to answer this tbh because I am really not a shipper :''')
Anyway, I have some thoughts about ships in RWBY, but before properly disclosing them I would prefer to receive some more confirmation by the story itself :P
As for now, I'll do my best to answer your question, but this post is highly speculative, so take with a grain of salt :’’’)
Also, tagging @hamliet because she is a shipmaster :P (also tbh... our ships are just the same :'''))
I also advise you to check out her meta on chemical weddings in RWBY.
There are two assumptions I am following when it comes to ships in RWBY and I am curious to see in-story if they are correct or wrong.
Ships in RWBY are about complementarity. This obviously means the characters have complementary arcs, but superficially, it is also about motifs and symbolism.
In short, characters in RWBY have common motifs going on (moon, sun, shadow, light, elements, etc.). There is the tendency in-story so far to pair up characters with complementary motifs.
So far, ships have been between characters that have a similar importance/focus in the story. So, we do not have a love interest who waits home or who is less iimportant than their partner.
So far, RWBY seems to be integrating ships in character arcs and it builds them through parallelisms and foiling as well.
Now, the problem with these two assumptions is that so far there are too few ships that have been confirmed by the story :’’’). So, they fit and I think they will fit for other ships as well, but it is a little bit too soon to say for sure.
SHIPS THAT ARE BASICALLY ALREADY CANON
Ren and Nora are basically canon :’’’) As Nora would say, they are not together-together, but they are clearly heading there.
They have admitted their feelings for each other and by now the structure of their arcs is clear.
The first part of the story is Ren’s focus with Nora as the helper.
The second part will probably be Nora’s focus with Ren as the helper.
Atlas is where they share focus in two separate and parallel journeys. Ren ends his arc, while Nora starts hers. It is clearly where there is a shift in their dynamic.
I would love to write a longer meta on them when the story is over, but as for now it will have to wait because I need more material on Nora. Anyway, their arcs are clearly complementary and they must integrate and become more like the other if they want to be together. So, Ren must accept his feelings, while Nora must become more self-reliant.
Complementarity: they are introduced as complete opposites. Nora is overly energetic, while Ren is overly stoic and calm. Moreover, Nora’s surname links her to air (Valkyrie) and her red hair and lightening powers associate her to fire. Ren’s surname instead means lotus and links him to earth and water.
Equality: they are introduced together and clearly presented as a set. Not to count that their arcs clearly revolve around each other. Moreover, they are MC, but slightly less important than the rest of the group imo (byt this I mean their arcs are not as intertwined with the main plot as the others’ are).
Yang and Blake have received a lot of teasing these past volumes and they basically only need some kind of mutual aknowledgement.
I wonder if this aknowledgement will partly come after some focus on Yang and Ruby’s bond. I think volume 8 is clearly setting up some kind of exploration of how Ruby has been depending on Yang since a little child. In coming of age stories it is common for children to overcome their dependence on an older role model, so for Ruby and Yang’s dynamic to slightly change as they grow would fit. If so, it would be interesting if symbolically Ruby grows independent, while Yang fully embraces a romantic relationship with Blake (and yes, I know this is already partially happening, I am imagining it not as something big, but more as a top-off).
Anyway, personally I love the ship and I think it was planned since the beginning, but I think the set-up has been kind of blurried by all that teasing between Blake and Sun. I am not a fan of how Sun/Blake’s relationship has been handled tbh.
Thematically, Yang and Blake’s arcs are clearly intertwined. Yang needs to control her feelings better and to accept help and support, while Blake needs to learn not to run away. Their conflict around being left/leaving is very interesting and it was cool to see how they overcome it through facing the people responsible for their trumas (Raven and Adam).
Complementarity: the Beauty & the Beast, Sun and Moon/Shadow, Day and Night, Light and Dark, do I need to go on?
Equality: Yang and Blake are both MC and partners.
SHIPS THAT MAY OR MAY NOT BE CANON AND THAT I LIKE
Honestly, romantic or not, there is not doubt Oscar and Ruby are major foils either way...
Their first meeting makes it abundantly clear. Apart from the symbolism explained in hamliet’s meta linked above... the whole set up of the meeting is basically screaming to the viewers WARNING WARNING THIS MEETING IS GOING TO BE IMPORTANT FOR THE STORY!
Anyway, Oscar arrives at their room and asks specifically for Ruby Rose - and yes, it is because she is Qrow’s niece and Qrow is drunk, but the point is that since the beginning he singles her out among the others. This is not by chance, it is to make clear his character is going to be linked to her specifically. That + the silver eyes line clearly set up their bond as important.
Other than this, it has been made clear as day Oscar is crushing hard on Ruby :’’’) He has barely met her and he is already basically telling her she has pretty eyes and calling her one of the best Huntresses in the world :’’’)
Ruby instead has been supporting Oscar since day one, telling him he is his own person and that he is brave. Even her first line to his (Who are you?) is clearly linked to Oscar’s arc - who is Oscar? That is the fundamental question Oscar himself must answers while struggling with Ozpin merging with him.
In fights, we see Ruby often supporting Oscar and Oscar keeps singling her out - for example, he calls her name at Heaven when Emerald hits her. Later on, he once again calls out for her when Cordovin shoots her cannon at boht her and Weiss (poor Weiss, lol).
Anyway, all these little things are not there by chance. They are hints to tell the viewers... look these two’s relationship is gonna be important.
Even thematically, we can already see that Oscar and Ruby have been foils since volume 6. In volume 6 they both must step into Ozpin’s role. Ruby as the leader of the group, while Oscar as “the wizard” of the group.
Their roles are complementary in the fight against Cordovin as well.
Oscar figures out a way to destroy the cannon from the outside, while Ruby uses Oscar’s information to destroy the cannon from inside.
In general, that whole fight is the fight that cements Ruby’s role as the leader of the group and Oscar as a part of the group:
Ruby: Hey, stop it!
Ren: You petrified a Leviathan... after diving down the barrel of a cannon!
Ruby: Don't act like you all haven't done crazy stuff before! I mean, Oscar made a successful crash landing! He's a fourteen-year-old farm hand!
In Atlas, their parallel journeys continue as they develop opposite approaches to the theme of trust and challenge each other when it comes to this.
Right now they are separated, but Neo changing into Oscar to trigger Ruby clearly foreshadows him together with Penny and Yang as a pretty important character in Ruby’s development in volume 9.
Anyway, among the yet non canon ships, I personally think this is the one with the highest chances of becoming canon.
Complementarity: Silver and Gold, Moon and Sun.
Equality: They are both MC.
Tbh... I hope they get focus together next arc, romantic or platonic I do not care. I simply think their relationship is super interesting to analyze, hence I hope it gets focus and payoff.
Anyway, I like White Knight because if it turns out canon, it would simply be very well done structurally.
Weiss and Jaune are hands down the two characters that receive the most focus in volume 1. Moreover, their focus has really nothing to do with the main plot. Weiss’s two eps about accepting Ruby’s leadership and Jaune’s Jaunidice mini arc are there only for respectively Weiss and Jaune. Nothing else. Differently from Blake’s runaway arc, that ties with Torchwick, the White Feng and the main plot... Weiss and Jaune’s episodes are there only for the characters to develop.
This is not by chance because initially Weiss and Jaune are the characters that need to develop the most and interestingly their development is the same and yet opposite. Both are just defined by their legacies and trapped in their respective stereotypes. Jaune is the comic relief loser, while Weiss is the spoilt little princess. Both are trying to outgrow these personas by entering Beacon. In short, neither of them really wants to be the damsel in distress and they both want to be the Knight :P
They wanna be heroes to prove themselves to their respective families.
However, this wish is also what initially gets in the way of their developments.
Weiss is so obsessed by the idea she should be the leader that she forgets to be a teamplayer to beging with.
Jaune is so obsessed by the idea he should be a warrior that he forgets his role as a leader.
Basically in volume one both Weiss and Jaune must find their place in their teams, accept their limits and grow to become better. Both are able to do so through their relationships with their respective partners (Ruby and Pyrrha).
Then of course there is their whole relationship that is interesting.
In short, their dynamic in the Vale arc is just a huge game of mirrors...
The only reason Jaune starts crushing for Weiss is that he hears her sarcastic line to Ruby:
Weiss: Yeah! And we can paint our nails and try on clothes and talk about cute boys, like tall, blond, and scraggly over there!
And interprets it as genuine XD
Because of this very stupid mistake, Jaune just keeps flirting with Weiss and completely ignores Pyrrha who has feelings for him.
So, really Jaune initially falls in love with a mirror image, with an illusion.
This is Weiss’s worst nightmare:
Weiss: All my life, boys have only cared about the perks of my last name.
Someone loving her not for who she is, but for her name or status. Someone loving her superficially...
Except that when it comes to love, Weiss is pretty superficial as well:
Neptune: And I don't believe I've caught your name, snow angel.
Neptune is nothing, but a “cooler” and Up to 11 version of Jaune. Same pick-up lines. Same flirting tendencies, but worse. And yet, Weiss crushes on him simply because he is “cooler”. Not to count that deep down Netpune and Jaune are actually very similar :P
So, Weiss says boys do not take the time to really know who she is. However, she herself does not really take the time to know others and is judgemental of them.
This is also why Neptune turns out to be actually pretty important to develop Weiss and Jaune’s bond.
Weiss thinks Jaune is interested on her only superficially, but as time goes on it becomes clear Jaune is really growing to genuinelly like Weiss, the more he knows her:
Jaune: It's Weiss. I'm completely head-over-heels for her, and she won't even give me a chance. She's cold, but she's also incredible. She's smart, and graceful, and talented. I mean, have you heard her sing? I-I just wish she's take me seriously, y'know? I wish I could tell her how I feel without messing it all up.
He is not interested in her only because she is beautiful or rich, but she grows to care for her as a friend and this emerges in how he calls out Neptune on his shitty behaviour:
Jaune: Do you like her?
Neptune: Yeah, I mean I don't know her too well yet, but she seems pretty cool.
Jaune: Then just go talk to her. No pickup lines, no suave moves, just be yourself. I've heard that's the way to go. (he crosses his arms)
Neptune: Yeah, but then-
And this leads to Neptune helping Weiss realize Jaune is truly a friend of hers:
Weiss: You said you were embarrassed at first. What made you come talk to me?
Neptune: You're looking at him. You got some good friends looking out for ya.
So, Jaune and Weiss’s relationship starts off as superficial, but as time goes on they grow to care for each other as friends.
Obviously, their focus stops being romantic because after Pyrrha’s death Jaune’s focus needs to be on grieving for his fallen love. Still, it is precisely when it comes to Pyrrha that we have another pivotal moment in both characters’ arcs and it is a moment they share:
Jaune unlocks Aura Amp to save Weiss and Weiss uses his aura to summon her Queen Lancer for the first time. They unlock new sides of themselves (a new semblance, a new summon) through each other. Both Jaune and Weiss highly struggle in the first half of the Heaven fight.
Jaune loses himself to anger and recklessly attacks Cinder disturbing the whole group’s flow. Weiss instead is outmatched by Vernal and is unable to use her summons. Thanks to each other they are able to find their respective roles in the fight, though.
Moreover, Cinder specifically impales Weiss to torment Jaune and draws in this why a strong parallel between Pyrrha (Jaune’s past love interest) and Weiss herself. Finally, when it comes to Weiss, this moment can be seen as a nod to her Snowhite allusion. Snowhite dies, but is saved by the prince.
Apart from that, they have not received many moments together. This makes sense because after Mistral Jaune goes to the background for a while and Weiss’s focus is limited to her interactions with her family.
That said, it is clear they are on good terms with each other. They go to the movies together (in what is a call back to Weiss’s volume 2 refusal to go to the cinema together) and at the end of the Atlas arc they are the two last fighters standing against Cinder.
We’ll see if they will get focus next volume, especially considering Weiss was there when Jaune had to give Penny the finishing blow.
Complementarity: They lack this! Specifically, they start the series as both silver and moon, but I like hamliet’s theory Jaune will grow to be more like Pyrrha (hence gold and sun), so that he can complement Weiss. We can already see more gold appearing in his outfit and his weapon recently broke, so...
Equality: they are both MCs plus they getting similar focus in similar moments and as parallels to each other.
This is my favourite relationship in the series :’’) and I am okay with it being either romantic or platonic. I literally do not care.
Anyway, I have talked about them at nauseam, so this is going to be quick.
Emerald and Mercury are two kids trapped in the cycle of abuse for opposite reasons and different coping mechanisms. Em is blinded by her desires, while Merc is frozen out of fear. Despite this, they have clearly grown fond of each other, but still struggle to help each other because of their flaws.
Mercury has been Emerald’s family much more than Cinder, but Emerald could not realize it until the Atlas Arc. And by that point Mercury is simply taken away from her and she finds herself alone.
Emerald is clearly Mercury’s only hope to save herself. She is the only person he has shown some care for. Not to count that she is really the only person he can be himself with. With all the others, he puts on a facade, but to Em he shows genuine feelings, be them anger, affection or vulnerability.
I am really interested in seeing how their relationship will evolve now that they are on opposite sides.
Complementarity: Soul and Body, Heart and Mind, Earth and Water/Air, Day and Night, Wishes and Fears, Semblance and Weapon.
Equality: they are introduced as a set (like Renora) and are clearly going through parallel and complementary arcs.
And this is all tbh. I also like Arkos, but Pyrrha is dead, so :’’’).
Have a nice day and thank you for the ask!
Do you think Touya should reveal his missing 10 years during his fight with Enji, assuming it will lead the latter to make the hero/father choice? I personally would prefer if it didn't contribute to his choice at all, so Touya would be chosen regardless of whether he opens up about himself or not
It’s very possible, but I’m with you. I kinda think he might reveal it to Shouto, or it might be revealed post confrontation and before final redemption.
Well Hawks has a little of a trick to fend for himself against Toga. Dabi already partially manipulated his video message about Twice death ( hawks killing twice while crawling and being in despair vs Hawks killing Twice when he was about to use Sad Man’s Parade, so when he was about to start fighting), and Hawks could do the same. When Twice died Dabi said pretty nasty things and did some questionable things , namely endangering Twice with his own flames and stating he doesn’t care at all about the league. Now, we readers know that there’s a gap between what Dabi says and how he acts (and most likely feels) and watching the scene I can see Toga not being angry at him at all. But Hawks has only Dabi’s voice and we already know All might is set on diving Dabi from the rest of the group.
If Hawks manipulate the record just enough that would stall Toga or place some tension between her and Dabi
I mean maybe. I’m just not sure what the narrative point of that would be if it really is the last arc. Like I’m just not sure we have enough time for that angst that is ultimately much ado about nothing but a chance for Dabi to commit himself to the league. I mean I’m not opposed, but that needs a fair amount of time, and AFO’s conversation already jump started the development… Since the recorder has already been used, I’m not sure it needs to be used again. It could be for sure, but it’s not really a narrative necessity. With the time we have left, I just don’t know.
god hawks really has no idea what he unleashed tbh… also what are you thinking of like… toga & dabi vs hawks. like i get toga vs hawks but i think dabi also has a bone to pick and i think he and toga will probably realize going up against hawks alone isnt the best option.
I agree with what @haleigh-sloth said earlier. I think Toga and Dabi will team up before they get split; Dabi will probably focus on Enji, while Toga will end up talking/fighting Ochaco, maybe, but after she returns to herself. I do not think this splitting of the villains is going to result in redemption but instead in a push towards them questioning whether they are where they want to be pre-final clash.
My guess is seeing Twice is going to freak Hawks out even if he knows it's a trick. If Hawks has lingering guilt, or a lingering urge to justify himself because of said guilt, both might be provoked. It depends on whether Hori wants to follow his tragic foreshadowing or not. But Enji is probably going to be facing a freaked out Hawks and an angry Touya and Enji's going to be the one who gets hurt (which works narratively).
Who is Executive Duan?
So after chapter 165 and speculation from @dangermousie, @thebluestwitch and people on twitter, I wanted to organize my thoughts.
What we know about him:
Everyone in the org is terrified of him.
He somehow has some emotional connection to Xie Qingcheng and doesn’t want him killed; harmed is fine though.
Fortunately (:)) the people Xie Qingcheng has an emotional connection to can be basically counted on one hand (okay two) so yeah.
So let’s go needlessly thoroughly through each of his emotional attachments with a magnifying glass:
The Absolutely Not Tier:
His mother (dead, and a woman)
Xie Xue (she’s a woman)
Aunty Li (also a woman; side note, if Aunty Li is somehow keeping watch over the Xie siblings for either the police force or even the org, I wouldn’t be shocked, but more likely the police force imo)
He Yu (duh)
He Jiwei (his wife would know)
The Pretty Much Absolutely Not Tier:
Qin Ciyan (dead, and again, even if RN-13 makes everything questionable, he’s been way too positively framed as a character)
The police friends of his parents: while I do think one unranked police officer may have iffy ties (Chen Man), I don’t think Meatbun could make these high rank people villains.
XQC’s father (dead, and if he were somehow undead, we know so little about their relationship that it wouldn’t have emotional payoff. Plus, cop.)
The I Doubt It Tier:
Wei Dongheng: he probably wouldn’t want Xie Xue’s brother getting hurt, and he would indeed already know about the relationship between He Yu and Xie Qingcheng. While the fact that the chapter cut off before LZS reacted to meeting him could conceal something, he just... hasn’t been framed very suspiciously.
The Maybe Tier:
Chen Man: I definitely think something is up with Chen Man and he is somehow connected to the chaos ensuing (he has been framed suspiciously), because let’s just say Meatbun always has the seemingly morally perfect third wheel who then turns out to not be so morally perfect (Shi Mei, Princess Mengzhe). I just don’t really think he’d allow any harm to come to Xie Qingcheng. Plus, although there’s no conclusive proof and we know there is a “child” in red heels who tortures people for fun, my impression is that Executive Duan is older.
The Actual Suspects Tier:
Chen Man’s brother: we know he’s most likely somehow alive (RN-13). But would he really be aware of his brother’s feelings for Xie Qingcheng? Would that even matter, because he would know XQC saved Chen Man from the dungeon? Maybe he and Chen Man reconnected?
Qin Ciyan’s unnamed relative, as per Qin Rongbei’s drawing of “my family” with one person’s identity obscured (suggested by thebluestwitch). Presumably the face was obscured for reasons, so it would likely come back. This one seems most likely to have the most emotional payoff as well, as it would rock Xie Qingcheng’s world and add depth to Qin Ciyan’s character (it’s also fairly common for the deceased mentor character gets more exploration post-death than they did in life).
At first I didn't think that we would see Toga vs Hawks, but now that Dabi gave her Twice's blood and they planning on using it to recreate Sad Man's Parade and her dream about the red sparrow its definitely going to happen. I can't imagine the look on his face when he sees army of Twice. This is going to be a HUGE when it happens. Hawks will go after either Toga or Dabi, Ochako will have to save Toga or either End will have to make a choice being father and go against Hawks.
Either way it plays out I believe Toga and Dabi will be okay, honestly this looks so much worse for Hawks. This could be Hawks next lowest moment after he killed Twice, and with Hawks being in the dark shadow and Dabi being in the light panel may come back up again. Maybe I'm jumping the gun on all this, this is sort of what I think may happen.
I think this is pretty much what everyone is thinking now yeah. I don't know that Hawks would target Toga specifically since he really hasn't had much to do with her or interacted with her, but from Toga's POV it's different, so her planning how to go after him is definitely a thing. I think when/if they do face off, it'll probably start as Hawks v. Toga and end as Hawks v. Dabi (with End and Shouto getting thrown in there somehow).
Basically I think Toga and Dabi are going to be tag teaming whatever plans they have, but because Dabi is Dabi, he's gonna wanna handle Endeavor himself. And I'm predicting that Toga and Dabi get separated by the heroes (since that's what the heroes are trying to do anyway), which I'm hoping would lead to Ochacko/Toga and Dabi/Shouto (along with Hawks and End).
But yeah I was pretty back and forth on the Toga and Hawks thing. At one point I beleived it could happen, but then I didn't. But now I definitely do lol.
Hi, hamliet....First of all, sorry if I'm wrong, but if I'm not wrong, a few weeks ago, you said that at that time you were reading, Mistakenly Saving the Villain...I just saw this title now on my recs list...Can I ask your opinion on it?
On another note, love that most of your predictions about BNHA become canon....Love reading your metas, hamliet.....
Hi! Yes, I've read Mistakenly Saving the Villain! It has some of my favorite tropes, and I quite liked both the characters and the premise. The main couple has a fun dynamic, and the characters are unique, with neither quite fitting the mold of the character archetype they seem to be.
I think the writer could have gone much, much deeper than she did with the characters and themes (there was a lot of telling rather than showing). Compared to MXTX or Meatbun, or QJJ's author, the story was not necessarily as sophisticated? But that isn't to say it's poor; it's not, and it has some really beautiful and deep moments. It just could have been even better.
But yeah. I would recommend it regardless; the main couple are so interesting both by themselves and together that it was definitely worth it.