(This is an edited compilation of posts from my other blog, The Yin-Yang Couple.)
Why Aisha and Nabu’s Relationship Didn’t Fit Her Story
GermanSirenix wrote an Aisha/Nex appreciation post on his Instagram. This line about Aisha and Nabu got my attention:
Aisha would have probably settled down with Nabu, but I personally think that’s not really what she desired.
Neither do I.
A Flaw in Aisha’s Story
I realized something about Aisha. It might surprise you, or you might say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” Either way, here it is:
Her story was complete by the first episode of Winx season two. That’s right: her debut episode.
What did she want? To escape her prim-and-proper princess life “one way or another”. That’s what she told Musa and Stella in “The Invisible Pixies” (Winx season 2, episode 13). But by the time she met the Winx, she’d already succeeded.
Let me explain by comparing her to…Nabu. After his parents told him they’d chosen Aisha to be his wife, he ran away from home. How did they react? They sent their guards to drag him back to Andros!
What about Aisha? We don’t know if she ran away or walked out the palace door, but she didn’t wanna go back to Andros, either. How did King Teredor and Queen Niobe react? Did they follow her? Did they send mermaids or servants after her?
They did nothing to stop her. They even let her enroll in a school on another planet.
Congratulations, Aisha! Your parents don’t give a hoot what you do with your life! You’re free! Now what?
Starting in Winx season three, Rainbow introduced random obstacles and conflicts into her story. Valtor attacking Andros was Conflict/Obstacle #1. The second and arguably more memorable one was her arranged marriage to Nabu.
You’d think an independent girl like her who wanted to choose her own guy would never give in. But Rainbow went with the “Perfectly Arranged Marriage” trope because a Winx can’t be single for more than one season. In Winx season four, her story revolved around her relationship with Nabu since she doesn’t have a character goal. (More on that in a moment.)
Then he died. That was Conflict/Obstacle #2. In Winx season five and six, her planet got attacked again, this time by her cousin, and two guys fought for her affection.
Instead of turning Aisha’s life into a series of unfortunate events, Rainbow could have drawn inspiration from Bloom’s story. No, I don’t mean another lost kingdom or missing family member. They’ve done that plot to death! But if you put Aisha and Bloom’s stories side by side, you might notice they’re basically the same, but inverted.
Aisha vs. Bloom: A Tale of Two Princesses
Bloom grew up as an ordinary girl on a non-magical planet. Because of her love of fairies, she dreamed of an extraordinary life. As she told Faragonda and Griselda in “Welcome to Magix” (Winx season 1, episode 2):
I’ve always wanted to be a fairy with all my heart, and now I can make my dream come true.
Not only did it come true, but she also discovered she was royalty: the long-lost princess of Domino. Plus, Prince Sky of Eraklyon fell in love with her and asked for her hand in marriage. That never would have happened if she’d stayed on Earth. Thus, she got the “happily after ever” she thought only existed in fairy tales.
Meanwhile, Aisha already had a fairy tale life — and she couldn’t stand it.
She grew up as a fairy princess on a magical planet. Because of her restrictive childhood, she wanted to feel what it was like to be an ordinary girl. Remember what Stella told her in “The Invisible Pixies”?
Don’t worry. We’ll make sure you get to have fun…
So, to recap:
- Bloom grew up as a normal girl on a non-magical planet (Earth). Aisha grew up as a fairy princess on a magical planet (Andros).
- Bloom had a normal childhood (plenty of freedom). Aisha had an abnormal childhood (no freedom).
- Bloom wanted to be extraordinary (a fairy). Aisha wanted to be ordinary (a normal girl who gets to have fun).
Bloom achieved her goal by becoming a fairy princess, which Aisha started off as (and still is, of course). Marrying a prince is a bonus that fits Bloom’s story. He can help her get used to her new life as a princess, since she doesn’t have formal training in royal etiquette.
How can Aisha, a fairy princess, become an ordinary girl like Bloom was? Technically, she can’t. She’d have to give up the throne of Andros, but we know she doesn’t want to.
What she can do, however, is marry an ordinary guy. He can’t make her ordinary, but he can balance out her life with some normalcy and a fresh perspective.
Was Nabu ordinary? No. Sure, being a wizard is ordinary in the Magic Dimension — you know, where most people have magic powers — but he had the same abnormal background as Aisha. He came from a rich family, had strict parents, and grew up with little freedom and few friends.
Nabu would have made more sense as a love interest for Bloom, since she craved an extraordinary life. Marrying a rich wizard would definitely count to a girl who grew up on a planet where wizards are nothing but fictional characters from novels and D&D. (Plus, he was a prince in the Winx comics.)
But Aisha already had an extraordinary life. She wanted the opposite: the ordinary. Coincidentally, so did Nabu, so neither of them could have fulfilled the other’s deepest desires. They may have fallen in love because of how similar they were, but they needed people who differed from them.
Aisha Has No Character Goal
Because of the flaw I mentioned earlier, Aisha’s story has no overarching plot. That’s why a lot of random stuff happens to her.
What is a character goal? Simply put, it’s what the character wants or what they’re trying to achieve. Most of the other Winx had concrete goals from the beginning:
- Bloom’s goal was to figure out where she came from and find her birth parents.
- Stella is the only Winx who had a misguided goal: to make her parents remarry. Of course, she actually needed to learn to accept their divorce.
- Musa’s goal was to become a musician.
- Tecna’s goal was to learn to be swayed by emotion. She’s the only Winx who needed a love interest in order to accomplish her goal. Love is the most powerful emotion — and the most illogical. To allow herself to fall in love with Timmy, Tecna had to ignore her logical mind and follow her heart.
What about Flora? She’s just like Aisha: no character goal. We don’t even know what Flora wants to do with her life! (I don’t think Rainbow knows, either!) Thus, her story has also become a series of random events that often involve her love interest (Helia) or her family (Miele or her parents).
An Invisible Target
Besides escaping her sheltered royal life on Andros, which she accomplished in her debut episode, Aisha wanted everyone to accept her for who she is. But do you remember a moment where they didn’t accept her? Where they treated what made her different as a problem? I don’t.
Plus, she gets along well with her parents. (I think Sirenix-Winx has mentioned this, too.) An exception was when they tried to force her into an arranged marriage, but why wouldn’t she be mad about that?
So what is the point of Aisha’s story? What is she really aiming for?
We know she wants to be a good princess, but that’s not unique to her. Bloom and Stella are also princesses, and I’m sure they wanna make their people proud, too. (Aisha seems more motivated, though.)
What does she want that no one else wants?
Marrying Nabu Wasn’t Her Character Goal
I’m not surprised some Winx fans think marrying Nabu is Aisha’s character goal. After all, that’s the first ending Rainbow set up for her. Nothing else in her story since then — including her relationship with Nex — has felt like it’s building to something.
A fan on Winx Wiki once told me Aisha has “lost her way” without Nabu. (Was he her fiancé or her god? 😕) They were right, but not in the way they meant it. Rainbow needs to give her a new destination — a true ending to her story.
But Nabu was just the first act. I don’t think they ever planned for Aisha to marry him (or anyone like him). Rather, they created him because of a dilemma in Winx season three.
Nabu Was a Genderbent Aisha
Imagine Secret of the Lost Kingdom was the finale of Winx Club, since it wrapped up the main plot with Bloom finding her birth parents and saving Domino. This means season three was the last season. We all know Rainbow planned to stop there.
Aisha debuted in Winx season two, but Rainbow didn’t give her a love interest. (Would have been the best time to introduce Nex, but oh well.) You know the rules: a Winx can’t be single for more than one season.
But Winx Club only had one season left. That complicated things. For starters, it meant we’d never see Aisha and her boyfriend as a couple for a full season.
Let me repeat that: we’d never see Aisha and her boyfriend as a couple for a full season. That’s the dilemma. In this retcon of Winx Club history, Aisha and Nabu are the only couple who never dated onscreen.
That meant their love story had to accomplish two things:
- Introduce a love interest we’d care about, even though we’d barely get to see him as her boyfriend
- Convince us their relationship might work out, even though Rainbow would never develop it
How did the writers solve this dilemma? They threw Aisha into an arranged marriage to a genderbent version of herself.
Aisha and Male Aisha
Disagree? Then tell me — if you literally turned Aisha into a guy, would “he” be that different from Nabu? No. “He” would:
- Still be from Andros
- Still be rich — and since Nabu was a prince in the Winx comics, “he” would still be royalty
- Have a nearly identical backstory
- Still like the same things (water sports, “The New Waves” band, etc.)
“He” would also still have magic powers, but since fairies are female in Winx Club, “he” would have to be a different type of magic being. What’s the closest thing to a male fairy in this series? A wizard.
Rainbow didn’t hide what they were doing. Aisha and Nabu frequently remarked on how similar they were, and after he told his backstory to the Winx, Bloom said, “Just like Aisha.” Bloom did the same thing in season four with Roxy. Twice, she told her, “You’re so much like me!” She also thought it a few times. Lampshading much?
Remember my post about why Nabu was a Soul Mate Sue (a.k.a. Relationship Sue)? The term came from an article about Mary Sues on a fanfiction site called Tokio Hotel Fiction. One tip to avoid writing a Soul Mate Sue relationship was to not give the love interest everything in common with their partner.
“But Nabu didn’t have everything in common with her,” you say. “He had a different personality. He was calmer, wiser, more polite…”
Yeah, better than her, which made no sense. Aisha’s childhood left her with social awkwardness, loner tendencies, and separation anxiety. But despite having a similar upbringing, Nabu turned out fine! He had none of the flaws or internal struggles she had.
That’s because his backstory only mattered for his role as Aisha’s love interest. It didn’t shape his own character — his personality, his opinions of the world, etc. — and it didn’t influence his interactions with other characters. This is common with Mary Sues. They often have tragic or difficult pasts that never hold them back in life, physically or emotionally. After all, they must be perfect no matter what.
In Nabu’s case, since he had the same backstory, we extended the empathy we felt for Aisha towards him. And since we think having everything in common equals perfect compatibility, we assumed their relationship could last. Plus, this was an arranged marriage, so we expected them to get married someday.
Disney Princess Plots
So why doesn’t the Winx fandom see Nabu as a Soul Mate Sue or a copy of Aisha? Why did we fall for Rainbow’s laziness?
Because we’re used to these types of love stories. Tokio Hotel Fiction called them “Disney princess plots”, and they are. Most Disney princess movies are like this:
- The princess meets her prince.
- They fall madly in love in a couple days — or a couple hours. It’s usually first love for both of them (just like Aisha and Nabu), and Disney wants us to believe it’s “true love”, not infatuation or anything else.
- They survive an adventure together.
- They get married and live “happily ever after”.
This works for a quick love story with no development, but not for a more realistic relationship that gradually blossoms and deepens. Unfortunately, Rainbow didn’t have time to give Aisha that type of relationship. They had to cut corners.
I’ve already talked about one drawback of Aisha and Nabu’s love story. She had an abnormal and restrictive childhood, and she left Andros to escape it. What she needed wasn’t someone exactly like her, but someone different to balance her life out with some normalcy.
But that’s not the biggest problem. Aisha didn’t have a character goal, right? Nabu made things worse. He nullified what little plot she had to build on.
How Nabu Undermined Aisha’s Story
In Winx season three, Rainbow prioritized a quick, convenient romance over Aisha’s character growth and desires. The damage to her story became permanent when they killed off Nabu in Winx season four. Afterward, Aisha took a back seat to him in the fandom’s hearts.
But even before he died, he had already ruined her story.
The Downsides of Being a Princess
The original theme of Aisha’s story was freedom. Her parents controlled her life and behavior all throughout childhood, so she wanted to escape and express herself. The lyrics to her character song, “Live My Life”, explain her feelings:
I heard you say that I’m a rebel
That I don’t follow any rule
And you know it won’t get better
‘Cause I won’t change my attitude
For no one
Daddy, please don’t be upset
Remember when you were my age
You were so restless, we’re the same
So won’t you set me free…
You taught me all I know, that’s whyhttps://winx.fandom.com/wiki/Live_My_Life
I will always be your girl
I wanna be out there in the world
I don’t wanna be in chains
Sadly, some of Aisha’s “chains” come with being a princess.
I think you’ll agree the three biggest choices in a person’s life are:
- Where to live
- What career to pursue
- Who to marry
These choices shape our lives more than any other, so much so that as we grow up, we prepare for them (especially career). They’re also interconnected. Where you live might limit your job options and your dating pool. Who you marry might influence where you live and work. And your career might dictate where you live and affect what you look for in a partner.
But Aisha is a princess. Where she’ll live (Andros) and what career she’ll have (queen of Andros) were decided for her the minute she was born. That only leaves one major life choice she gets to make: who to marry.
“I’ll Choose My Guy?”
Her parents tried to steal that choice from her by forcing her into an arranged marriage, as is tradition. At first, she did what you’d expect her to do: stand up for her convictions.
I don’t care about tradition. Anyway, I’m too young to think about marriage, and when the right time comes, I’ll choose my guy.“The Red Tower” (Winx season 3, episode 21)
Let’s break this down:
- “I don’t care about tradition.”
- “I’m too young to think about marriage…”
- “I’ll choose my guy.”
- She didn’t wanna adhere to a tradition that took away her freedom.
- She wasn’t ready for marriage yet (she was still a teenager, after all).
- She wanted to pick her husband herself.
Doesn’t all that sound reasonable? It fit her “rebellious princess” character, too.
But screw that! She needed a boyfriend ASAP! So, per the rules of the “Perfectly Arranged Marriage” trope, Aisha met her fiancé Nabu, fell in love, and agreed to marry him. She also apologized to her parents for rejecting him.
Thus, she let her parents make all three of her major life choices. They controlled her childhood, and now they’d decided her adulthood before she even became an adult.
But she chose Nabu herself, right? She fell in love before she knew who he was, and their parents let them take their time.
We call those loopholes. They’re built into the trope to trick you into believing the characters got what they wanted. To quote TV Tropes:
It’s not a violation of free will if both [partners] want to get married, after all.
Right, except that Aisha and Nabu may never have met if not for the arranged marriage. (Maybe he wouldn’t have died, either.)
It’s like when a magician says, “Pick a card!” You think your choice matters, but they actually lead you to the card they want you to pick.
Aisha is supposed to be a rebel. But she doesn’t have a character goal, and when her parents infringed on the last of her freedom, she caved. What was the point of her conviction, then?
A reader from my other blog left a comment about Aisha’s boyfriends. They talked about how Aisha and Nabu’s relationship began through violations of her free will (the arranged marriage) and her privacy (he stalked her). Here’s how I responded:
With Aisha/Nabu, Rainbow tried to have their cake and eat it, too….They tiptoed around the problem [of her parents forcing her to marry him] by having her fall in love with Nabu and saying, “Well, it was her choice.” On the surface, it seemed like a good compromise. But between the arranged marriage and Nabu stalking her to “get to know her” (from afar?), Aisha showed little agency in this love story.
When we met Aisha in Winx season two, her story was about reclaiming her freedom and the right to make her own decisions — a.k.a. her agency. She didn’t want to be passive and reactive in her own life anymore.
But all that went out the window when she met Nabu. He became the protagonist of her story, and she became a side character, his love interest. I’ll talk about that in a future post.