I was talking with a friend about the second season of Amphibia, when they said something interesting:
What if Hop Pop knows about the prophecy?
At first I was in denied, but then... I started thinking, and it could make sense.
First of all, we already know how protective is Hop Pop with Sprig and Polly. So, why did he let Anne stay with them when he didn't know if Anne was dangerous or not?
My theory it's that he knows about the prophecy, and thanks to that, he wanted to make sure that Anne would fight for them when the time comes (Should they fight or embrace the Fall)
But this could be just a scene, right? Right.
But then, we've got Anne vs Wild, where Anne tell the Plantars about the Calamity Box. And what's Hop Pop reaction to this piece of information?
He looks anxious, too curious about the (probably) magical box. But he doesn't look surprised, like Sprig or Polly, because he already knows about the Calamity Box. And most important, about the prophecy.
And we can't forget about how, after a really careful inspection of the Box, Hop Pop says that he hasn't seen nothing like this before. But why he looks so worried if he doesn't know what the hell it's the Calamity Box? For all he knows, the Box it's only an interdimensional door (Now useless), not a weapon or the prison of an old powerful entity
Later, in the same episode, we discovered that Hop Pop has a book with information about the Calamity Box but... It's not a little bit strange that he remembers THE page where the Box appears? I'm sure Hop Pop loves to read, but a family's book about dangerous magical artifacts doesn't look like his favourite book genre.
And well, we can forget about his words: It's just as I feared. What if he's not talking about the Box? What if he's talking about Anne and the revelation that she's, without any kind of doubt, part of the prophecy? She brought the Box, a powerless Box: That could mean that she's got the Calamity powers, right? Right
Not enough proofs for this theory, right? Right
Let's talk about Bizarre Bazaar, and the strange things about this episode.
In first place, it's in this episode where we met Valeriana (Who later, in S2 reveals that she's part of an ancient order that protect the temples) And the thing that makes me bring her to this theory it's her outfit, specially her pendant.
Because it's the same symbol that Hop Pop's costume's cloak uses.
And someone could "Well, maybe it's the Bizarre Bazaar's logo" And yeah, that could make sense, but then why Valeriana's it's still using it during the Second Temple? (Maybe it's a design choice, but shh-)
I think that maybe, and just maybe, that's Valeriana's Order sigil, and not Bizarre Bazaar's. But that brings the question of why Hop Pop would use it? My theory it's that Hop Pop was a member of the Order, but he decided to leave that adventure when he had to take care of Polly and Sprig. That's how he knows about the prophecy.
And the second thing I want to talk about Bizarre Bazaar it's one of the final scenes, where Hop Pop looks... Upset.
We know that a few seconds later, Hop Pop buried the Calamity Box under the tree because he's scared. Scared because this is going to bring problems to his family, because he's going to betray Anne's trust... And, if we're following this theory, because he's using Anne as a prophecy's pawn.
And well, all of this bring me to the last point: After the Rain.
In After the Rain, Anne discovers that Hop Pop buried the music box and lied to her, and the reasons behind this. But... What if Hop Pop didn't tell the whole truth?
One thing that bothers me about After the Rain it's how Hop Pop looks like he's still hiding something. When he's talking with Anne back in the cave, he starts with the same reason he tried to gave Anne before: Family.
If we think about the prophecy, if Anne it's supposed to save them from an inevitable doom: why would someone try to let her go? Anne accussed Hop Pop of trying to trapped her in Amphibia, and I can't be more agreed with this because if Anne didn't find a way back home, then she's going to be forced to fullfill the prophecy and protect all of them, specially Polly and Sprig, the people who stablished an strong bond with Anne and the ones that Hop Pop is also trying to keep safe.
But then, while he's trying to talk with Anne, something changes-
This doesn't look like the Sprig and Polly's parent death confession. It looks like something that could affect Anne, something that it's making Hop Pop feel conflicted. In this frame, we never see his eyes, but we can feel how difficult it's for him to talk.
I think he was going to tell Anne about the prophecy and how he wanted to make sure that Anne expel the Night. Because he's tired of secrets, especially with Anne, who he has started to consider a grandchildren instead of a destiny's pawn.
But of course, this revelation never cames because Sprig and Polly got themselves in danger, and that's the end.
So, summarizing this crack theory:
1) Hop Pop knows about the Calamity Box AND the prophecy
2) Hop Pop was a member of Valeriana's Order. (That doesn't mean they know each other, they could belong to differents temples) and he left the Order after what happened with Sprig and Polly's parents (Maybe Andrias discovered about the secret member of the Order (Hop Pop) in Wartwood and send the Herons after him, because he knew too much. After Joe Sparrow, I don't doubt that Newtopian military train all kind of birds, incluiding Herons)
3) During the last half of S2 it's when Hop Pop finally choose to forget about the prophecy, because he considers Anne part of the family and he can't bring himself to make her suffer more. But then After the Rain happens and yare yare yaze
4) And I don't know, I'm just rambling. Maybe somebody has already talk about this, I don't know. I just want to see Hop Pop being like "Fuck the prophecy. Those are my kids and I don't care about destiny or gods; I'm going to keep them safe, not matter what"
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It’s perfectly understandable why c!Niki views c!Wilbur how she does, and I won’t begrudge her feelings. Her emotions are valid. But I’d like to take a moment to explain why c!Wilbur enthusiasts are feeling particularly Stressed about her new perspective on him. Because these feelings can’t be assuage by the simple logic that Niki is biased-- they’re rooted in much more than that.
1. Niki has already gone through an arc where she came to terms with her poor coping mechanism of making Tommy a scapegoat. Now, it’s not Bad Writing for her to fall back into old habits and scapegoat Wilbur. In fact, if done right, it’d be great writing that would showcase how healing isn’t linear and vices are not easily escaped. But most folks figured her past experience with Tommy would provide a baseline of understanding Wilbur, even though she’d be clearly and rightfully pissed off/upset. Her having this kind of backwards step in the healing process is not bad writing or unbelievable, but it was surprising.
2. Currently, Wilbur has no healthy support who understands him. Tommy is trying his best, but he has a long history of misunderstanding Wilbur, he is a literal child who should not face this kind of pressure especially alone, and Wilbur himself is not healthy for him and his mental health. Every Wilbur enthusiast I’ve seen has agreed that Tommy needs to confront Wilbur at some point and that the healthiest thing for Tommy to do would be to break things off or distance himself from Wilbur at least until Wilbur shows a greater desire to change. And if Tommy leaves Wilbur, Wilbur would have... No one. It’s not even so much that Wilbur needs friends, he needs people that understand him. Even if they don’t act buddy buddy and leave him on his own until he makes the first move, he needs to know that he’d have a support system behind him if he chose to try to be a better person. We know that he only deteriorates when he’s alone. Niki was one of the few characters who seemed like she could be capable of that, and she very well still could. But this seeming initial rejection has understandably raised anxiety and doubt over Wilbur getting any healthy support.
3. Wilbur’s character has been constantly shit on both in-universe and in fandom since October 8 and his “villain speech.” It’s understandable why the characters view him and treat him as they do, but it’s getting really old. It’s been almost 9 months of the same “Wilbur was crazy” and “Wilbur was a master manipulator” takes. At this point, everyone just wants to see something new, some new dynamic, a unique attitude towards Wilbur, and that’s probably a large part of the appeal of TNTduo. Niki herself expressed complicated feelings concerning Wilbur, which folks enjoyed. So of course folks are very sensitive when a character who had shown a unique attitude towards Wilbur... Says the same rhetoric we’ve been hearing for over half a year.
Again, I fully understand why Niki has her beliefs, and I am not arguing the validity of her feelings. But I also understand why this is a sore spot for some Wilbur enthusiasts that is not completely soothed by the simple fact that Niki is biased. And I’m sorry that the best I can offer those folks is reiterating that this all does fit into the concept of a redemption arc and subverting expectations.
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To what extent has Banana Fish
Changed the practice In Shōjo Manga?!
Though it may seem unlikely for Banana Fish to be categorised as a shōjo manga, considering that it was serialised in Bessatsu Shōjo Comic (別冊少女コミック, now known as Betsucomi ベツコミ), it’s certainly considered as such.
It can be said that it’s a considerably different shōjo manga.
Firstly, the core of shōjo manga — romance — isn’t portrayed.
They show the love affairs between Max and Jessica, and Charlie and Nadia, but those are an extra at best. They’ve got little to do with the main characters and the main plot.
Ash and Eiji’s relationship/connection can be seen as “beyond love”, but it’s quite different from the easy-to-comprehend “romance” usually found in shōjo manga. Banana Fish doesn’t provide its readers with a heartbreaking unrequited love nor a relationship of faint admiration nor an endless love triangle.
In addition, even though it’s a shōjo manga, it’s got loads of action scenes — very good ones at that.
Banana Fish is quite violent, there are no other shōjo manga with this many people getting mercilessly shot or beaten. It’s already rare for pistols and explosives to even make an appearance.
Even if someone gets beaten or kicked in shōjo manga, the scene isn’t realistic at all.
Quite as if it were a childish and dramatic comic strip, it feels like absolutely no damage would be done to someone getting hit. In Banana Fish, however, whenever that happens, it looks pretty painful and inflicts some serious damage.
At times, some cruel scenes are shown. Nevertheless, there are no nonsensical onomatopeias such as “bosu” or “ugyunu”¹ , like in shōnen manga. To put it simply, this work was very skilfully written. There had been no shōjo manga with great action scenes before, and it seems unlikely for any new ones to come out.
Also, at the same time that a beautiful boy² is portrayed, this boy feels very human. This is also rare.
His eyes don’t shine like stars, nor do they take up over one-third of his face. On top of that, Ash’s got some muscle and his joints bend normally. Even so, he is incredibly gorgeous.
Having star-studded eyes and flowers in the background is the standard for pretty boys in shōjo manga. Only when they wear a blouse with lace details — sold who knows where — and have their curled hair swaying in the wind does the “pretty boy” premise prove itself true.
Ash is nothing like that. He’s got a nasty look about him, always wears T-shirts and is often covered in dust or gunpowder smoke. That being said, he’s so good-looking that it makes the “pretty boys” monomaniacs confused.
One of the major peculiarities in Banana Fish is that the main character, Ash, doesn’t have a woman for a partner.
When it comes to ordinary shōjo manga, the main character is generally a girl around the reader’s age. The readers project themselves onto the protagonist and enjoy the manga as though they were the ones in the story. Though there are shōjo manga with boys as the main characters, a girl will necessarily show up as their partner. And so, the reader will become this partner and keep reading as if they were in the story themselves.
Nonetheless, Ash’s partner in Banana Fish is Eiji. A guy. It’s gotta be the first time that the reader has to think of themselves as a guy.³ “I’m unreliable, but pure, and I won’t lose to anyone when it comes to Ash.”
Even though he might wonder “is it really okay for Ash to cherish this useless me to this extent?”, he gets stronger while believing that he must have confidence in what Ash thinks of him. In the end, Eiji might be a boy, but he’s not so different from the clumsy characters found in ordinary love stories.
However, Banana Fish is a groundbreaking work in terms of having the reader project themselves onto the male character.
Another significant feature is that sex — originally depicted as a “symbol of love” — is represented only by “violence” in this work.
Because of these peculiarities, Banana Fish became the first ever “shōjo manga that can be read by boys”. Loaded with action and violence, it won’t make shōnen or seinen⁴ manga readers uncomfortable, and it will enlighten those who might have a prejudiced view and associate it with images of “eyes that shine like stars”. Even so, it does its job fulfilling the desires of shōjo manga fans all the same.
Banana Fish is truly an outstanding manga.
1. “ボスッ” and “ウギュヌっ”: the first one (bosu) is usually translated as “crash” or “slam” — or some other smashing sound —, the second one makes literally no sense to me... I guess that’s the point but if it means something and I’m the one who doesn’t know please let me know XD
2. The “美少年” (bishōnen), a pretty well-known type. They are usually somewhat feminine boys, very slender as well. I guess there are quite a few different sorts of “pretty boys” nowadays, but they used to appear mostly in shōjo manga back in the 80s and they were pretty much flawless and out of reach. So Ash being a clearly human pretty boy, with his issues and all that, makes Banana Fish all the more special. Yue from Cardcaptor Sakura (aka Yukito) is a great bishōnen lmao I love him I love clamp but anyway ye this is just me rambling at this point
3. I suppose this is pretty clear but even though I chose to go for neutral pronouns — as the Japanese original just doesn’t say the female reader or the male reader and is just overall gender neutral —, it seems to be self-evident that the reader is a young girl who wants to be some boy’s partner. Idk this is just a note to say that I’m glad nowadays this shōnen/shōjo division and consumption is way more blurred and that maybe a boy wants to be the “girl” — so why can’t he be Eiji, or any other female character? Or why can’t a girl be Ash? If we’re talking character’s role. But anyway to assume that the reader wants to be a character at all feels bold to me? I guess I never even saw it from that perspective — even with “ordinary” shōjo manga —, I just enjoy seeing the plot development and, if there are romantic relationships, the characters’ involvement. I do know some people like to be part of it (that’s the thing with otome games and such), but personally I just feel detached from the whole thing even if I can relate or empathise. Anyway I just think it’s a nice thing to talk about but this is not the point so let us continue. I was gonna add another note for the statement that follows this superscript but yeah I just wanted to say this author really just sees Eiji as some helpless character in love...
4. While shōnen manga are marketed towards younger boys, seinen ones target male adults.
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