A couple weeks ago, the Tropical-Rouge! girls visited Manatsu’s hometown and wrote wishes on rocks as part of an annual festival. Laura’s rock became the Monster of the Week. Afraid the other Precure would see her wish, she kicked the crag out of the thing and purified it by herself.
Get it? “Crag?” Because crags are rocks? Actually, they’re cliffs, but…yeah, it doesn’t work.
Anyway, this was no ordinary Yaraneeda*. It was a Zettai Yaraneeda, the toughest type of monster we’ve seen this season. And Laura, a.k.a. Cure La Mer, beat it singlehandedly.
Yeah, it was the second Zettai Yaraneeda she KO’d on her own. The first was in the episode before when she got her second attack (Ocean Bubble Shower), which none of her friends have. And that’s after she defeated a Zenzen Yaraneeda, a level-2 monster, by herself when she became a Precure.
Bottom line: La Mer is OP. Even Toei has realized it. As the other Cures watched her wail on the Zettai Yaraneeda, Cure Summer and Cure Flamingo said:
SUMMER: Looks like we’re benched. FLAMINGO: Looks like it.
Sure does, girls.
Here’s the good news: it’s an easy problem to fix. Whether or not Toei knows it, they have a perfect excuse for why La Mer is more powerful than the other Cures: she’s wearing more makeup!
When Coral, Papaya, Flamingo, and Summer transform, they apply blush, mascara, hair extensions (not sure what else to call it), and lipstick. You know the chant by now if you’ve been watching the show:
Even though they each call out one of them (their respective charm point), they each put on all four of them.
But when Laura becomes Cure La Mer, she puts on all that and her charm point: nail polish, which she wears on her fingernails and toenails. So if this magic makeup gives the Precure their powers, couldn’t Toei say her nail polish gives her extra?
If so, all they have to rebalance the team is give the other Cures nail polish! It could be in their signature colors, it could be clear — it doesn’t matter. Just have them paint their nails and say it gave them a power boost. There. Done.
Well, not really. My guess is La Mer will stay a one-woman army — gotta sell the Mermaid Pact toy — until the Witch of Procrastination ekes out a…Zutto Yaraneeda? Does that even make sense grammatically? Anyway, the Cures will have to beat it with their second group finisher (yay, new toy!), and the individual attacks won’t matter anymore. That’s how it’s worked in seasons past.
But we probably have several episodes until then. So please Toei, let the other girls fight more. The Tropical-Rouge! team is five strong. Let them all show off sometimes, not just La Mer. No one likes a spotlight hog.
* The word “yaraneeda” comes from “yaranai”, which roughly means, “I won’t do [anything].” “Zenzen” and “Zettai” mean “at all” and “definitely”, respectively.
Here’s a recap of why I’m writing this series. In a video ranking the Winx couples, YouTuber Unicorn of War dismissed my criticism that Nabu was too perfect by saying, “Why can’t we just have good men?” I wanted to answer that question, plus elaborate on what was wrong with this character.
[Aisha] needed to learn to be able to trust him because of the circumstances under which they met and because she as a stand-alone character had “issues with men” and trusting people in general.
Yes, her “‘issues with men’ and trusting people in general”. It’s her fault she didn’t trust him, right?
No. The real reason lies in the “circumstances under which they met”. It’s the elephant in the room the Winx fandom avoids:
He was stalking her.
And it looks like he got away with it. That’s the third of six reasons Nabu was a Gary Stu.
What Counts As Stalking?
Well, I screwed up. I’ve always thought Stella called Nabu “an adorable stalker” when the Winx caught him spying on Aisha in “Valtor’s Box” (Winx season 3, episode 18). But here’s what she really said:
Oh, come on, Aisha*! You can’t give up on guys, especially when you have this adorable suitor who’s been following you around all day.
“Suitor”, not “stalker”? Fine. I think the “following you around all day” part speaks for itself, but I was still wrong. So first, we need to prove Nabu’s actions counted as stalking.
A course of conduct directed at a specific person that involves repeated (two or more occasions) visual or physical proximity, non-consensual communication, or verbal, written, or implied threats, or a combination thereof, that would cause a reasonable person fear.
1. “Directed at a specific person”
Of course that checks out. Nabu’s target was Aisha.
2. “Repeated (two or more occasions) of visual or physical proximity”
Before they met, he stalked her a couple other times:
“A Trap For Fairies” (Winx season 3, episode 11): His debut episode. We saw him in a tree eavesdropping on the Winx’s conversation about Faragonda.
“The Black Willow’s Tears” (Winx season 3, episode 12): After the Winx broke the spell on Faragonda, the “camera” jumped to him watching Aisha from the bushes through a telescope.
She didn’t know he was there in these scenes, but notice the definition says “visual or physical proximity”. If a judge asked him how long he’d been following her, he’d have to tell them about these moments, too. Plus, we know he kept stalking her even after she found out.
3. “Would cause a reasonable person fear”
Hey, you seem reasonable. If a stranger followed you everywhere, watched you from behind a tree, observed you through a telescope, and turned invisible and snuck onto your plane, would you freak out?
That’s what I thought. So of course, Aisha was afraid of Nabu. She flinched every time he showed up or got close to her. In “The Red Tower” (Winx season 3, episode 21) when he asked her to take off the shackles that blocked his magic (not really), she said, “Not a chance!” And what about the screenshot above? All he did was hold out his arms, and she recoiled and yelled, “What are you doing?”
Why the extreme reaction? Think about it. Earlier in that season, a wizard took over her realm, mutated her friends, and blinded her. Now another wizard was trailing behind her like a shadow and constantly invading her personal space!
Now we could split hairs and say, “Winx Club is an Italian show, so it was only stalking if Italian law says so.” But this show has aired in over 100 countries, so it’s not just Italian fans’ business anymore. Just to cover all our bases, anyway, here’s Italy’s legal definition of stalking:
Any continuative harassing, threatening or persecuting behaviour which: (1) causes a state of anxiety and fear in the victim(s), or; (2) ingenerates within the victim(s) a motivated fear for his/her own safety or for the safety of relatives, kin, or others associated with the victim him/herself by an affective relationship, or; (3), forces the victim(s) to change his/her living habits.
“Continuative harassing” matches with “repeated…visual or physical proximity”. We just talked about how Nabu’s actions caused “a state of anxiety and fear” in Aisha. And since she thought he might be a spy for Valtor — we’ll come back to that — she feared not only for her safety, but her friends’ safety, too.
No matter how you slice it, Nabu’s guilty.
How Nabu Got Away With a Crime
As that YouTube comment suggests, the Winx fandom doesn’t take Nabu’s stalking seriously. His entry on TV Tropes’ page Stalker With a Crush calls him a “somewhat more benign version”. (Benign to who? Aisha or himself?) I also met a fan on DeviantArt several years ago who forgot that part of the story. When I mentioned it, they got angry with me for accusing Nabu of such a thing! He’d never do that! 😡
Well, maybe never again, at least. I’m not saying we should remember this guy as a criminal. If you read my Yin-Yang Couple blog, you know I don’t “cancel” characters like some Winx fans do.
It’s okay for a hero to do unacceptable things sometimes — just not all the time. If they have enough positive traits to balance out their flaws, or they’re able to learn from their mistakes and change, we can excuse occasional misbehavior. Some actions are worse than others, of course, but most can be forgiven.
Holding them against the hero forever denies them the freedom to become a better person, something we should all do. If you can’t tell, I’m not talking about Nabu anymore. 🤷♀️ I can’t stand how the Winx fandom gives some heroes infinite chances to change, but other heroes are condemned no matter how many times or how many ways they try to redeem themselves.
But that’s not what this post is about, so moving on.
Bottom line: we can forgive Nabu for stalking Aisha. That’s a wrap. Time for Final Thoughts.
Well, not yet. When I said he got away with it, I didn’t mean in the court of public opinion. I meant in the show itself.
…[a Gary Stu] is more than capable of doing something wrong, be it in general moral terms or something that goes against whatever code he abides by, and he maybe even frequently does so, but don’t expect the other characters or the narrative to ever acknowledge or comment on it in any real capacity….The [Stu] will always be right, and his actions will always be justified….
It’s one thing for the audience to pardon a hero, but it’s another for the story to claim the hero did nothing wrong, have other characters downplay his actions, and excuse them by saying, “He just wanted to learn about his fiancée”, as if there aren’t legal, less intrusive ways to do that. That’s what made Nabu a Gary Stu. Mary Sues and Gary Stus can do wrong, but hardly anyone will think poorly of them, and they won’t suffer any consequences.
Let’s break it down. Here are three ways Winx Club made Nabu look innocent while committing a crime.
1. The other characters overemphasized his good looks.
Imagine you saw a man watching your best friend from behind a tree while you were eating. Whenever you looked back at him, he’d duck further behind it or pretend to shop at a nearby boutique, only to emerge again while your back was turned. How would you react?
A. Call the police. B. Get up and move somewhere else. C. Tell your friend, “Ooh, he’s cute! You should date him!”
Please tell me you wouldn’t pick “C”, or I’ll question your sanity. Yet that’s what Stella did, and Rainbow wanted to us to think it was a reasonable response.
Think about the timing, too. The Winx had been battling Valtor and the Trix for 18 episodes, so you’d think they would have been wary of any shady behavior. That eventually crossed Tecna’s mind, but at first she didn’t mind playing matchmaker with Aisha and her stalker, either.
Besides, Nabu couldn’t have been dangerous. He was sooo cute!
Yeah, he was. So what?
I wish I didn’t have to say this, but a stalker’s attractiveness doesn’t matter. According to a survey conducted in 2011, 66 percent of female victims were stalked by someone they were dating or used to date — someone they probably thought was cute. But stalking isn’t cute.
Yet that’s how Rainbow reframed Nabu’s actions in our minds. He wasn’t a “stalker” — he was a charming boyfriend candidate who couldn’t keep his eyes off Aisha. For long periods of time. Even from a distance. In bushes.
Next episode, “At the Last Moment” (Winx season 3, episode 19), Musa brought up his looks again in what started as a conversation about Riven:
AISHA: It’s just that we’re different. Like, it’s absolutely impossible to have a talk like this with a boy, you know. They always end up making some stupid joke. They’re all like big babies! [Rubs Piff’s head] Isn’t she cute?
MUSA: Not as cute as “Ophir”, though!
“Ophir”. 😕 I liked that name more than “Nabu” (even though it’s more meaningful), but oh well. We’ll come back to it in a future post, though.
Even Nabu played the “attractive equals safe” card:
Aisha, surely, you can trust an honest face like mine.
Giving the Stalker a Halo
On the Yin-Yang Couple blog, I often bring up a bias called the horn effect. If your first impression of someone is negative, you focus on their flaws and misbehavior and assume they have other unrelated, unconfirmed flaws. Well, this bias has an opposite called the halo effect. If your first impression is positive, you focus on the person’s positive traits and behavior and assume they have other unrelated, unconfirmed virtues.
The most common trigger for these biases is appearance. Consciously or not, we think beautiful people are trustworthy, friendly, or smart, and ugly people are dangerous, stupid, or suspicious. TV shows and movies reinforce it: villains are usually less attractive than the heroes.
How most of the Winx reacted to Nabu’s stalking was a perfect example of the halo effect. They knew nothing about him — his name, where he came from, nothing — but they assumed he was harmless (along with his actions and intentions) because he was cute. Maybe Aisha knew better than to judge someone, even positively, by their looks. But that put her friends (and the audience) on his side, with her and later Tecna on the other.
And that was just the beginning.
One more thing. In the “adorable suitor” scene, we knew who Nabu’s target was, but the Winx didn’t. They also didn’t know why he was stalking her. So how did Stella figure out it was Aisha, and he liked her?
I thought Tecna, who scanned him with her ladybug gizmo and showed her the results, read his brainwaves or something. But if she had, wouldn’t she have known he wasn’t a spy for Valtor? Well, she didn’t.
We also know Stella’s not psychic. That means she either guessed the entire situation with no evidence, or she saw a guy behind a tree and thought, “Hmmmm, Aisha’s single…”
2. Rainbow planted a red herring: Nabu’s connection to Valtor.
“…The mysterious Ophir. Is he a friend?”
Did anyone actually fall for this? We already knew he was Aisha’s love interest, so why would he be an enemy? Plus, I don’t think Rainbow has ever done a “friend or foe” twist where the character was a foe. The closest was Professor Avalon, but it wasn’t a surprise because we saw him cackling and casting a homesickness spell on the Pixies. And didn’t Darkar even say he was a spy?
Regardless, they tried this gimmick with Nabu. Tecna led the accusation train, and Aisha was on board, but Bloom tried to hit the brakes:
TECNA: Guys, I hate to be the one to say this, but our friend Ophir could be working for Valtor, you know. BLOOM: Oh, Tecna! You don’t really think that, do you? AISHA: It would certainly explain his spying…and his timing.
To keep up the ruse, Rainbow had Tecna suggest he and Valtor planned Nabu’s “wannabe hero” rescue in the Agador Box room:
TECNA: Aisha, think about it. If he’s working for Valtor, this is playing right into his hand.
After Aisha traded the box for his life, he slipped away with a crafty look on his face. Oh, sure. He was totally guilty. 🙄
In “The Red Tower”, Bloom and the other Winx got suspicious, too. Well, except Flora. She bought his story about sneaking onto the Owl to get to Veil Mist Forest to practice his magic. Here’s the thing: even if he was telling the truth (which I doubt), he also admitted he overheard them talking about their mission at Alfea. That means he was stalking Aisha at her school, where she lived at the time.
He stalked her while she was at home.
Yeah, I bet that never sunk in, did it? Of course not, because Rainbow’s red herring worked. They diverted our attention from the real issue, Nabu’s stalking, to a non-issue: his hero status. Then they resolved that conflict instead and trivialized the original problem with the “just wanted to get to know her” excuse.
To show he was a “good guy”, they had him perform typical heroic deeds: saving Aisha, helping her friends, befriending her friends, etc. (It wasn’t as remarkable as it seemed. All the late-debut love interests have done that stuff.) They also emphasized it his “goodness” in dialogue:
“The Red Tower”: As Aisha prepared to lock him up, he said, “I am not a spy! I’m telling you I’m one of the good guys!”
”The Red Tower” again: After he saved Aisha from the…weird, eye tentacle monster, he said, “Believe me now? I told you! I’m one of the good guys!”
“The Crystal Labyrinth” (Winx season 3, episode 22): When Sky and Timmy pulled him and Riven apart to stop their fight, Timmy said, “Riven, ‘Ophir’ is a good guy!”
Okay, okay. Fine. Nabu was on their side.
But as my mom used to say, “What’s that got to do with the price of tea in China?”
It didn’t matter if he was a “good guy”. He still stalked Aisha! Just because the Winx and Specialists were wrong about the reason for his spying doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty.
And what if he had been a spy for Valtor? That would have made him an antagonist and a stalker!
One more thing. This doesn’t count as a redemption arc, either. If he got his bad reputation because of a misunderstanding, it put the other characters in the wrong instead of him. So he wasn’t trying to make up for his misbehavior — he was trying to prove his innocence in the crime he didn’t commit. That’s not redemption — that’s exoneration.
3. Rainbow made us feel sorry for Nabu instead of Aisha.
In the Swiss Army Knife post, I said we’re supposed to feel the protagonist’s feelings most of the time. This was a time we weren’t supposed to. Instead, Rainbow pitted us against Aisha. Throughout her first few episodes with Nabu, they painted her as rude, cold, and, of course, untrusting.
It started with the “adorable stalker” line in “Valtor’s Box”, which served a couple purposes. One, it told us Nabu was her love interest (if we didn’t know that already). Two, it established what would get in the way of their inevitable relationship: her fear and discomfort — you know, from being stalked. Her last line in that scene reinforced this:
I don’t like people lurking in the bushes, slinking around, and listening in on my private conversation!
Wait a minute. Did Rainbow admit Nabu’s actions were wrong, after all?
No. All they did was state the obvious without calling it “stalking” (as I know now). Remember the quote from TV Tropes:
Don’t expect the other characters or the narrative to ever acknowledge or comment on it in any real capacity.
Rainbow started the “spy for Valtor” stuff right after this scene.
Also, they wanted us to feel sorry for Nabu here, not Aisha. After he lied about not meaning to spy on her — it was the third time, so yeah right — she ran away, and he said, “Oh, well. I guess I’m not exactly welcome.” Really? You don’t say?
Look at the screenshot above. Nabu and the other Winx stared at her as if they couldn’t believe she did that. It made it look like he did nothing wrong, and her reaction was inappropriate. That’s exactly how Rainbow wanted us to interpret it, as they showed through a chat between her and Bloom as the Winx waited for Valtor to attack the Museum of Magix.
Aisha was still thinking about “that guy from before”. Remember that criterion from the Italian definition of stalking: “causes a state of anxiety and fear in the victim”? Here you go: her encounter with Nabu put her on edge.
The worst part is Rainbow had her criticize herself for feeling that way:
BLOOM: C’mon, Aisha. He probably just thought you were cute. I think you were too hard on him. AISHA: I feel bad about it, but he just rubbed me the wrong way for some reason.
I feel like I say this a lot about Aisha’s story in Winx season three, but she had no reason to feel bad. Who cares if he thought she was cute — or if she thought he was cute! He stalked her. Why is it wrong for a girl to be mad at a guy who’s following her around, especially if he’s doing it because he’s attracted her? Is that the definition of a creep?
In the Agador Box scene, Nabu saved Aisha by letting the Winx Club equivalent of Bigby’s Hand grab him instead of her. It’s the classic cliché: guy saves girl, so she has to date him. Those are the rules. Flora and Helia also had a “rescue-equals-romance” scene in his debut episode.
But this scene turned Aisha’s annoyance into a moral dilemma. “Will you save your stalker and risk letting an evil sorcerer take over the universe? Or will you sacrifice him for everyone else’s sake?”
See the problem here? It was a false choice. Even though she hated Nabu, she’s a hero. Can you imagine if she’d said, “Sure, Valtor! Go ahead! Crush him! I don’t care!”
Besides, this is Winx Club. The target audience in season three was kids and pre-teens. Do you really think Rainbow would have shown a character getting squeezed to death?
So Rainbow made it look like a tough choice, but there was only one answer. Also, her decision had nothing to do with whether she liked Nabu. Any Winx, even Tecna, would have done the same thing.
Cute? To Who?
For these next two scenes from “The Red Tower”, I’ll describe them first and add my commentary afterward. Anything I said while recapping them would go in one ear and out the other (so to speak), anyway.
First, the foot grab scene. Let’s face it: that’s what the Winx fandom remembers most about it. Aisha tried to tackle Nabu, who was invisible, but she ended up hugging his feet.
After she stood up, they had this exchange:
AISHA: Alright, now put your hands where I can see them. NABU: Aisha, aren’t you forgetting the magic word? AISHA: Or I’ll blast you with all the energy I can muster? NABU: By “magic word”, I meant “please”, but oh well.
She handcuffed him, and then…
NABU: You know, last time we met, you and I were never probably introduced. My name is Ophir. AISHA: Turn around, walk slowly, go. NABU: Alright.
Now, the jail cell scene. I won’t talk about it as much because I’m saving it for another post. Besides, you remember it: Aisha tried to lock him up, but she got stuck in there with them. He took advantage of the situation to get to know her, and they found out they had everything in common. (That’s the part I’ll come back to later in the series.)
As you were reading those recaps, you were probably thinking, “OMG! They were so cute!” Here’s my question: were they cute, or was Nabu cute?
What do I mean by that? The Winx fandom says Aisha and Nabu’s interactions were cute. But based on everything we’ve talked about in this post, why would these scenes make you squee instead of cringe?
Think about the foot grab scene from Aisha’s perspective. How would you feel if you were alone in a room with a guy you can’t see, who turned out the strange man who spied on you while eating with your friends a while ago? Now he’s on your plane. He snuck on to get to you. Worse, he might work for someone who’s trying to kill you, your friends, and your family.
Yet he’s making nice with you, teasing you about your politeness and being unable to contact your friends while you’re trapped in a tiny space with him.
Did you roll your eyes at that take? Do you think I’m over-dramatizing things? Of course you do, because again, I told the story from Aisha’s perspective. I described her feelings. But Winx Club wanted us to internalize Nabu’s feelings.
Here’s a challenge for you: rewatch the couple’s early scenes in Winx season three, including these two, but concentrate on Aisha’s facial expressions and body language. Don’t look at Nabu if you can help it, or pretend he’s someone else, like Obscurum or Brafilius (unless you ship her with them 😐).
Something tells me her version won’t feel like the love story from your childhood.
So what’s the point of this post? Nabu stalked Aisha, so he was actually a bad person? No. I don’t separate heroes into “good” and “bad”. They can have positive and negative behavior, but like I said, I don’t think we should hold their wrongdoing against them forever if they have redeeming qualities and the capacity to change.
But if Rainbow wanted to tell a “stalker gets the girl” story, the least they could have done was be honest about Nabu’s behavior. Aisha was right not to trust him at first because stalking is unsettling and an invasion of privacy. So can we please stop saying she had to “learn to trust him”? She didn’t. He had to earn her trust because he presented himself as untrustworthy.
This was the story of a guy who creeped on a girl, got caught, and had to convince her he wasn’t a creep.
“Oh, and also…I’m your fiancé!”
* These quotes were from the RAI English dub, which called Aisha “Layla”, but I didn’t want to keep switching back and forth between “Aisha” and “Layla”, as well as “Nabu” and “Ophir”. I kept the latter because it was plot-relevant.
Happy Odaiba Memorial Day, Digimon fans! My brother, sister, and I are getting together to play Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth for the first time. Yeah, I’m behind on the Digimon games. 😅
I didn’t plan anything for the blog this year, but I just found out about the rumored 10th season, Digimon Ghost Game. My first thought when I saw the poster was… “What the ugg is that?” It doesn’t look like Digimon at all!
Is this a fake leak? Maybe. The Digimon partners look real, but the kids don’t. Not only do the designs not match anything else we’ve seen in the franchise, but the artwork looks like unpolished and out of place in this composition. (UPDATE: It’s real. Toei confirmed it at DigiFes 2021.)
Well, this doesn’t look interesting to me. I like the title — “Ghost Game” is intriguing — but the art style ruins the mystique. The kid in the middle looks like he has a dirty mop head glued to his skull. It takes away from his dramatic shounen hero pose.
Also, can you tell what these kids’ personalities are? I can’t. There’s no life in these designs. They don’t feel like people — they feel like…well, pictures!
Now like I said, the Digimon’s designs seem authentic, but they’re still off. The dinosaur (Ganmamon?) and the yeti (Aglemon?) look so generic, they could be from any monster series. Come to think of it, “Ganmamon” reminds me of the Digimon introduced in the mobile game Digimon ReArise:Herissmon. 🤔 I think the color scheme is making me feel that way.
The third Digimon, supposedly called Jellymon, is the coolest of the group. She’s throwing me off because I could see her as a real character. Maybe it’s because she has a sad Palmon vibe to her.
To be honest, I want this to be real just because more Digimon is always a good thing in my book. But this seems like an odd direction for the franchise. People are comparing it to Yokai Watch, especially with the new Digimon Vital Bracelets that came out this year. Are they connected to this season? Personally, I don’t think so, but it’s possible.
Well, it’s not fair to judge something before we’ve even seen a trailer. I’ll try to stay open-minded. If this season is real, it might end up better than it looks.
What do you think of this leak? Are you excited for a new Digimon season?
Once again, Happy Odaiba Memorial Day!
UPDATE 2: Alright, here’s everything I know now. First, as I mentioned in the last update, Digimon Ghost Game is real. It is the next season of Digimon.
Second, I didn’t think the Digimon Vital Bracelets had anything to do with it. Well, I was wrong about that, too. The Vital Bracelet (a.k.a. the Digivice-V) is the Digivice of this season, so the comparisons people made to Yokai Watch were warranted.
Here’s a teaser for the Digivice-V. It features the three partner Digimon from Ghost Game with their correct names: Gammamon, Angoramon, and Jellymon.
Taking a short break from the Nabu posts. They take a while to write, and this blog isn’t about him (or Winx Club), anyway.
Let’s get back to one of my favorite things: anime openings. ❤️ Sometimes, an opening spoils so much of the plot, you don’t have to watch the show to know what happens. And then there are these that tell you almost nothing and may confuse you into thinking the show is about something else.
Here are five anime openings that tell you little about their shows. Don’t worry about the lyrics. In most of these songs, knowing them wouldn’t help, anyway.
1. “Sweet Romance” — Yumeiro Patissiere SP Professional
“Yumeiro” means “dream-colored”. What does that mean? Beats me.
Anyway, here we go.
Oh, okay. This is a love story, right?
Nope. It’s about a bunch of teenage pastry chefs running rival bakeries to see who can make the most dough. 🙃
Did you see any references to baking? I saw one: a blonde girl named Lemon playing with her hair in a kitchen in a culinary school. Yeah, that’s enough information. 😑
Everything else in this opening is romance drama. Okay, yes, there’s a love square in this anime — guess who the characters involved are; it’s sooo subtle — but it’s not the entire plot!
Oh, well. This season was lame, anyway. Season one was better, and you could actually tell from the opening the show is about baking!
2. “Easy Breezy” — Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
Before Crunchyroll licensed this anime, its unofficial English name was Hands Off The Motion Pictures Club! I’m gonna call it that from now on. It was a perfect translation. None of us non-Japanese viewers knew what “eizouken” meant. I thought it was a person’s name!
Oh, well. What’s in a name? This song is awesome no matter what the show is called.
So, what’s the plot? Three girls form what they call the Motion Pictures Club at their high school, but they actually want to make an anime together. Anime are pictures in motion, right? It counts.
Did you get any of that from this opening? Besides the three girls? Probably not, though a few scenes make sense once you know the plot. Of course, this is all animation, so… Hmmmm… 🤔
I dropped this anime after one episode, but I’ve never forgotten this opening. It inspired this post! Can you guess what this show is about? (Warning: some slight nudity because…anime. 🙄)
If you guessed “a vampire bites a paranormal photographer to make him her eternal servant”, you win! To be fair, if you know Japanese, you may have gotten the “servant” part. Plus, she wears a vampire cloak at one point. The “kiss” stuff is how she lures her victims: she asks for a kiss but goes for their necks instead. (That’s one of the few things I remember about this show.)
But most of the opening focuses on moon references: Princess Kaguya, the rabbits in the moon pounding mochi, a satellite in orbit, etc.
4. “Koko Dake no Hanashi” (trans. “Just Between Us”) — Princess Jellyfish
Sex and the City!Star Wars! Mary Poppins! Kill Bill!
What do they have to do with this anime? Absolutely nothing!
Princess Jellyfish is about a jellyfish nerd and a cross-dresser who team up to save the former’s home from real estate developers. The opening hints at the characters’ interests — Tsukimi loves jellyfish, Kuranosuke loves women’s fashion, Gigi loves old men, etc. — but there’s not a scrap of the plot.
But now, watching the anime feels weird. I don’t see these characters the same way anymore, especially the cross-dresser Kuranosuke. The actor looked nothing like the character — it’s hard to do bishie right in real life — but he played him so well, I didn’t care.
5. “Real World” — Humanity Has Declined
I saved the best for last. If you can tell what this anime is about, you already knew, you cheated and looked it up, or you’re psychic.
Ready for the answer?
Humanity Has Declined is set in a post-apocalyptic future where humans are nearly extinct (hence the name). Earth has a new dominant species: fairies. Curious, sadistic, and obsessed with candy, they love using us as guinea pigs for their pseudo-scientific experiments.
The pessimistic main character, known only as “I” or “Okashi-san” (Ms. Sweets), is the U.N. arbitrator between humans and fairies. She makes them candy to maintain a good relationship. Meanwhile, she and the few humans left discover fragments of our lost civilization like processed food, space exploration, systems of government, and boys-love manga, some of which have been recreated by the fairies — incorrectly.
So, the world’s ending, but eff it! Let’s dance!
To be fair, this anime is a satire of modern culture (from about 2007-2016), so the inappropriately cheerful tone of this opening fits it well.
And that’s a wrap! Can you think of any other anime openings that tell you jack squat about their plots? Let me in the comments!
Here’s a recap of why I’m writing this series. In a video ranking the Winx couples, YouTuber Unicorn of War dismissed my criticism that Nabu was too perfect by saying, “Why can’t we just have good men?” I wanted to answer that question, plus elaborate on what was wrong with this character.
The first post was about Nabu’s unbalanced personality. Today, we’re talking about his unbalanced magic. To be fair, it wasn’t just a problem with his character. It’s a problem with his entire class to this day. Wizards in Winx Club are OP.
But he was one of the worst. That’s the second of six reasons he was a Gary Stu.
3 Reasons Wizards Are OP
1. Wizards can use light or dark magic without changing class or species.
Page 3 of the Winx season three book I Want to Be a Fairy stated: “All fairy magic is part of the power of light.” So no matter what a fairy’s power source is — water, flowers, the Dragon Flame, animals, etc. — she’s technically a light fairy, too. (That’s what the book says.) Witches are the opposite, of course. They tap into the powers of darkness, conjured from negative emotions, as the Winx learned when they audited classes at Cloud Tower in season two.
What happens if a witch switches to light magic? She becomes a fairy. Best example: Mirta. Out of place for being a kind-hearted witch, she transferred to Alfea in Winx season two. By next season, she had her Charmix/Magic Winx form. (The book classified her as a synergy fairy like Tecna.)
Does that mean a witch can’t be good? No, but she can’t use light magic and stay a witch. For example, Professor Griffin is also a good witch, especially since she was part of the Company of Light, but she still uses dark magic. That’s what she teaches to her students, too.
Conversely, if a fairy goes to the dark side, she loses her wings and becomes a witch. Best example: Lazuli and her friends in Winx season six. She said it herself before the Trix accepted her into their new Cloud Tower:
My name is Lazuli. I’m a fairy — I mean, I was a fairy…
“Broken Dreams” (Winx season 6, episode 11)
Also, just like witches can be good, fairies can be evil. We saw that in Winx season four, while the Earth Fairies were on their quest for vengeance against humans. But using dark magic is against a fairy’s nature. After all: “All fairy magic is part of the power of light.”
So what about wizards? They can do whatever the heck they want! We’ve met wizards who use light magic — well, two: Nabu and Saladin — and a boatload of the fantasy staple, dark wizards: Valtor, the Wizards of the Black Circle, Acheron, Brafilius, and Winx comic exclusives like Kamud, Gregory, and Neruman. But regardless of their alignments or powers, they’re all still wizards.
The only reason this matters is because fairies and witches gain (or lose) something when they switch classes (or species?). When a witch becomes a fairy, not only does she get a pair of wondrous wings, but she also unlocks, to quote Faragonda in Winx season four, “infinite magic levels”: Enchantix, Believix, Harmonix, Sirenix, Bloomix, Mythix, Butterflix…
Time out. Let’s be real: most fairies will earn nothing beyond Enchantix. The Winx are just special. But Enchantix grants them fairy dust, which can break any dark spell, and it connects them to the true essence of their power sources. So it’s an excellent trade — and an enormous loss when a fairy becomes a witch.
Yes, witches have transformations and power-ups, too. The Trix have had Gloomix, Disenchantix, and Dark Sirenix. The difference is someone (the villain of the season) had to give them the magic energy. That happened to the Winx, too, after Enchantix, but witches don’t even have natural forms.
Neither do wizards, but they don’t need them. Why? One reason is point #2.
2. Wizards can manipulate other magic beings’ power sources.
In “A Virtual World” (Winx season 4, episode 16), Ogron accessed Tecna’s computer and figured out she hid the White Circle in the Gardenia Park game. Then he uploaded himself and his fellow wizards into it. When the Winx found out, Musa told Tecna, “I thought only you could do that.” So did she. But Duman — he’d been captured by the guys and tied up in the Winx’s loft — chalked it up to adulthood and experience.
“We’re older and wiser than you are, fairies, and we know more tricks! That’s the advantage of age!”
So, anyone with magic can learn to control a computer and even hop into a video game as they grow up? Then why have a Fairy of Technology? You can’t even say she’d be better at it because Ogron proved it wrong!
Also, what “trick” did he use? All he did was snap his fingers and make his hands glow! He might as well have said, “Abracadabra!”
Well, at least Nabu never stole another character’s thunder, right?
In “The Nature Rage” (Winx season 4, episode 18), Diana crashed the Winx’s concert at the Frutti Music Bar and trapped them in magic vines. Helia convinced Flora to try to free herself, but she couldn’t. “It’s no use. Diana has total control over nature!”
Darn. If the Guardian Fairy of Nature couldn’t save them, no one could.
Oh, wait. They had a wizard. Nabu loosened the roots of the vines, allowing the Winx to break free. (The Specialists just watched.)
Wait a minute. Why would his magic work better than Flora’s? She’s a full-fledged nature fairy!
“Well, she said the vines weakened her,” you say.
Oh, really? How convenient for him. We’ll talk about that later, as well as his fight against Diana, one-on-one, in a forest, later in the episode.
To be fair, we’ve seen other Winx manipulate weather and yes, flowers and plants. Their simulation chamber test in season one required them to use magic to save a dead planet, which meant growing plants. In “Secrets Within Secrets” (Winx season 1, episode 17), Bloom made a vine lower her out her window, and in the next episode, she turned a bouquet of red carnations pink. And in “The Show Must Go On” (Winx season 2, episode 15), Musa nullified Stormy’s magic with a rain dance.
So yes, magic beings can sometimes control other elements, but we usually know how and why. The Winx learned gardening and rain dances — Musa said they came from Palladium — at Alfea. As for Bloom dyeing flowers, she told her mom, “Flora taught me that trick.” That checks out.
Also, weather and plants are parts of nature, and fairies are nature spirits, anyway. Remember that “listen to the voice of nature” stuff in season one?
But wizards have no connection to nature. Also, like with Ogron and Tecna’s computer, we don’t know what “trick” Nabu used. Did he shake the ground? It didn’t look like it. All he did was slam his staff down, and it worked because…reasons.
3. Wizards have no meaningful limitations to their magic.
Law #2 of prolific fantasy author Brandon Sanderson’s Three Laws of Magic is “Limitations > Powers”. What a magic user or hero can’t do, what blocks their powers, and/or the disadvantages matter more than the abilities themselves. The classic (but cliché) example is Superman is weak to Kryptonite. No matter how incredible he is, if he gets near that stuff, he’s helpless.
Another cliché is running out of mana, magic energy, aer, or whatever the writers want to call it. All magic beings in Winx Club, including wizards, have to worry about this, but so do 99 percent of characters in other fantasy series.
How about more creative examples? I love the weaknesses of the heroes’ “quirks” inMy Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia). Here are a few of them, for those of you don’t watch the anime:
Ochaco Uraraka, a.k.a. “Uravity”, has anti-gravity powers, but they make her nauseous. If she overuses them, she eventually pukes.
Denki Kaminari, a.k.a. “Chargebolt”, has…you guessed it: lightning powers. But when he zaps at a high voltage, he fries his brain and becomes an idiot for an hour, leaving him vulnerable to attack.
Momo Yaoyorozu, a.k.a. “Creati”, can create any non-living object, but she uses her fat cells as material. Not an infinite resource, of course.
Last but not least, the protagonist Izuku Midoriya, a.k.a. “Deku”, was born quirkless but later receives the near-invincible, super-strength, super-speed quirk “One For All”. If he misuses it, it wreaks havoc on his body, causing immense pain and permanent damage such as broken limbs.
These downsides, some more intense than others, make the quirks more interesting. If the heroes are stuck in a fight that forces them to go “plus ultra” — push themselves beyond their limits — you know it’ll cost them something. That ratches up the tension. It also gives them obstacles to overcome through training or trial by fire.
Back to Winx Club. Fairies and witches’ biggest limitations are their power sources. Yes, we just talked about how they sometimes control each other’s (especially nature), but it’s rare. Nine times out of ten, they can only use their own.
Even when the Winx gain forms that tap into other elements — the ocean (water) for Sirenix, the Dragon Flame for Bloomix, or the stars (light) for Cosmix — the energy blends with their own and creates variations of spells they already have. Flora gets underwater vines or willow branches. Bloom gets another fire or heat spell, but this time it’s lava. Musa gets a new instrument or the harmony of nature. More of the same, but a tad different.
Another limitation: fairies and witches need access to their power sources, or they can’t use their magic at all.
Well, sort of. Rainbow applies this rule inconsistently. It never affects The Trix. (How often is Icy near ice — unless we mean the hailstone she calls a heart?) As for the Winx, the most common victimis Flora. No living plants in Downland? The flowers are digital? She’s out of commission.
But the other Winx have had this problem, too. Not only couldn’t Stella use her magic well in Downland in Winx season two, but she nearly died without enough sunlight. And in “Fury!” (Winx season 3, episode 14), Valtor used a darkness spell and a vacuum spell on Flora and Musa, respectively, to nullify their magic.
But again, wizards don’t have to deal with that stuff. They don’t even need power sources. All they need is a staff or a wand, a book, potion ingredients, a magic gem, or just their hands!
The Wizards’ Styles of Magic
To recap, wizards in Winx Club are OP because:
They can use light or dark magic without changing class or species, while fairies can only use light magic, and witches can only use dark magic.
They can manipulate other magic beings’ power sources.
Aside from the cliché of “out of mana”, they have no meaningful limitations to their magic. They don’t even need power sources like fairies and witches do.
Has Rainbow even tried to balance these advantages out? Yes, they have. They’ve given most of the wizards styles of magic, which are comparable to power sources for fairies and witches:
Ogron’s Magic Absorption: He turned magic attacks against him into strength and/or shot them back at his opponents.
Anagan’s Hyper Speed: He even ran up buildings!
Gantlos’s Shock Wave Magic: He cast it by stomping or clapping. (It was a lot like Musa’s sound waves, though.)
Duman’s Shapeshifting: He turned into people, animals, and even water. (Not the most original power, since Wizgiz could do this long before season four.)
Valtor’s Mark: Arguably the most powerful wizard in Winx Club, he was best known for branding people and transferring his magic to them, mutating them, and/or possessing them. Many of his other powers he stole from throughout the Magic Dimension.
Brafilius’s Animal Magic: He got his powers from Kalshara, though some of his spells had nothing to do with Wild Magic or animals. But since he was inexperienced (and a freaking idiot), he never posed a huge threat.
Acheron’s Legendarium: Since he created the Legendarium World, you could say the Legendarium was his magic. Everything he did after Selina freed him was standard evil wizard stuff. Plus, he had a piece of the Dragon Flame, so like with Valtor, we knew why he was so powerful.
What about the two good wizards: Nabu and Saladin? Saladin may have been a part of the Company of Light, but we’ve seen little of his magic. What we have seen has been basic: energy beams, whatever this swirl thing is, etc. Transforming Redfountain was cool, though.
Still, this guy is not as strong as he used to be. He got his butt whooped in “The Wizards’ Challenge” (Winx season 3, episode 23) against Faragonda and Griffin (who he thought were Valtor). So even if he was once a powerful wizard, old age has caught up to him. Is that enough to balance out his magic? Yes.
Nabu, however, was the same age as the Winx and Specialists. What was his style of magic? Plot convenience.
Mr. Magical Swiss Army Knife
Whatever Rainbow needed to move the story forward, Nabu could do it. Fix a car? Check. Speed up a car? Check. Turn a car into a truck? Check. Enchant instruments? Check. Loosen magic roots? Check. Heal a malfunctioning shapeshifter? Check.
Close a portal to the abyss? Check.
Where did he learn this stuff? Um…he studied a bunch of powerful (and random) spells on Andros. Who taught him? Why? How? Who cares! Wasn’t he cool?
“What’s wrong with a character being useful?” you ask. Nothing, as long as there’s a limit to their usefulness.
A normal character is useful when it makes sense for them to be. Maybe they’re an expert, or they’re committed to helping a certain character. But a Mary Sue or Gary Stu is useful in any situation, especially hyper-specific ones where they should be clueless. The other characters don’t get to show resourcefulness or overcome their personal limitations. Instead, they rely on the Mary Sue/Gary Stu’s powers.
Plus, their powers are often vague for that reason: to turn them into a magic Swiss Army Knife, handy for anything. It’s one way the writers justify the Mary Sue or Gary Stu’s existence. To quote TV Tropes’ Common Mary Sue Traits page (gender changed):
His skills will generally be inexplicable and poorly defined….If the characters need a new skill, he’ll often already have it. And even if he does need to learn it, he’ll pick it up in no time. This serves to make him indispensable to the [other] canon characters.
“See? Look how helpful he is! Where would his friends be without him?”
Probably fine, since they have skills, too. But it’s hard to balance them with the Mary Sue or Gary Stu’s infinite powers. How do you compensate for a character who can do…anything?
Think about it. If we don’t know their skill set, we can’t say anything they do is outside of it, right? That’s what makes them a lazy plot resolution tool. If the writers can’t think of how the other characters could solve their problems on their own, they’ll just give the wizard a new ability he’ll never use again to bail them out.
That’s another reason characters need limitations: to rein in their powers and give us clear expectations for them. Stella is the Fairy of the Shining Sun (or Sun and Moon, if you prefer), so we know her spells relate to light and celestial bodies. Aisha is the Fairy of Fluids, Waves, Oceans — whatever you want to call it — so she controls water and other liquids, including her Morphix. Stormy is the Witch of Storms: rain, wind, lightning, etc.
If these characters ever do anything outside those limits — Stella siccs the Great Dragon on someone, for example — we need an explanation. If Rainbow doesn’t give us one, it’s bad writing. Period.
I’m not saying Nabu needed to be “The Wizard of Something” — that’s not how wizard magic works in this show, anyway — but having a style of magic like other wizards would have grounded his abilities. That way, we would have known which powers made sense for his character and which came out of left field.
Rainbow didn’t tailor all of Nabu’s spells to specific situations, but here’s the awkward thing about the rest of his magic: 95 percent of it was stuff any magic being can do:
He could fly…er, float. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
He could teleport. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
He could create portals. The Winx couldn’t do that with basic magic, but Tecna did it with her gadgets. Older fairies like Faragonda and Morgana can do it. The Trix have done it, too.
He could shoot energy beams. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
He could create force fields. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
He could transform things. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
He could enchant objects. So can the Winx. And the Trix.
Oh, wait! He could use Double Team! That’s unique, right?
Nope. That’s been Darcy’s gimmick since season one. Rainbow even lampshaded it in his first battle against her:
He wasn’t even the first main character to wield a staff! Stella beat him to it with her scepter in the very first episode! Saladin has a staff, too, and it’s gold with a purple gem like Nabu’s. And in Winx season eight, Obscurum briefly used a dumpy-looking one with that color scheme, too. (I don’t count him as a wizard.)
I guess there’s a Winx Club version of Ollivanders somewhere.
So if his magic was generic, why did we think he was such an exceptional wizard? Well, Rainbow used some magic of their own. Here are three ways they made him seem special.
1. Rainbow had other characters gush about him and his abilities.
The best example is Aisha, of course. Because she was dating him, we saw it as her being rapturous about their relationship, but it also helped boost his popularity. After all, she’s a protagonist, so we’re supposed to feel what she feels — most of the time. (More on that in a future post.)
I mentioned this in my second “Why Nabu Was a Mary Sue” post: I think that was the actual point of how she acted in Winx season four. Rainbow wasn’t trying to show an authentic relationship between her and Nabu. They just needed him to look like a god among men, so they turned her into a drooling fangirl:
“Oh, Nabu! You’re so great!”
“Nabu, my love!”
“Nabu, my sweet!”
“You’ve made me the happiest girl in the Magic Dimension!”
“Yes, now that you’re here, I am [okay]!”
No one talks like this, even when they’re in love. Why would we think it was natural for Aisha, of all people? It wasn’t. More on that in a future post.
She wasn’t his only fan, of course. Riven became enamored with him after one battle in “The Crystal Labyrinth” (Winx season 3, episode 22). Actually, two battles. The first was when he thought Nabu was hitting on Musa. After they cooled off, the wizard showed him his martial arts moves, and Riven said, “You’re a cool dude! I like your style!”
That’s it? That’s all it took to win over the least trusting, most emotionally distant guy in the group? Musa should have knocked him out, too. Maybe that would have fixed their relationship years ago.
But as I also said in that second post, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu can charm anyone in minutes regardless of their personality or any bad blood. Even if they’re an enemy.
That brings me to the most egregiousexample. During Nabu’s one-on-one battle with Diana, she paused and said, “Very good! I shouldn’t have underestimated your magic!”
How often in Winx Club does a villain — or at least antagonist — compliment a hero’s powers in the middle of a fight? Can you think of any other scene? I can’t. Normally, they get angry when the hero shows them up. But Nabu was amazing. Who could get angry at him?
By the way, only one other character fought a Major Fairy alone and survived: Bloom. I’ll leave it at that.
2. Rainbow surrounded Nabu with non-magic beings.
Nabu was a Specialist. Except not. The only thing he had in common with them was being male.
Instead, because of his magic, he functioned more like a seventh (or eighth) Winx. Think of Daphne in season six. He played a similar role but without the encyclopedia of Magix in his head.
Both of them even had redundant powers. Hers were worse, though: the four elements. Bloom, Flora, Aisha, and actually Nex, who wielded the Halberd of the Wind, already had those covered.
Anyway, remember Wizgiz’s lesson on yin and yang in “Up to Their Old Trix” (Winx season 2, episode 2)? A light in a bright room blends in, but a light in a dark room stands out. Next to the Winx, Nabu was the only wizard but one of seven (or eight) magic users. But next to the Specialists, he was the only wizard and the only magic user.
They became the darkness to make him shine brighter.
3. Rainbow displaced or nerfed the more skilled characters, so Nabu got to be the hero.
I hinted at this earlier, but wasn’t it convenient Flora’s magic didn’t work in that scene in “The Nature Rage”? The character who, in any other season, would have been the hero didn’t get to be. Instead, it was Nabu.
Again, it’s because his magic was too general. The Winx don’t step on each other’s toes often because their powers don’t overlap. But he couldn’t help it.
And they weren’t the only victims. Timmy got nerfed in “Mitzi’s Present” (Winx season 4, episode 5) when the guys tried to get jobs as mechanics. He stared at the primitive engine of the car “Mr. Oil” gave them and said, “I don’t even know where to start!” Why would that stop him? He’s a genius and a tinkerer! Remember when he helped design low-tech traps for the Trix in the Wildlands, a place with no magic?
Well, so what? Had to make the wizard look cool!
Oh, and where was Tecna? Elsewhere for most of the episode. If she could master our Internet, I’m sure she could have turned that car into a truck — and fixed it.
But nope. Had to make the wizard look cool!
And let’s talk about Flora one more time. Imagine how amazing Nabu’s duel against Diana would have been if she’d fought her instead. Two nature fairies slinging vines, throwing thorns, and battling for the forest’s allegiance. What a memorable scene that would have been for a Winx who doesn’t get enough development! We would have witnessed how far she’s come from the timid wallflower we met in season one.
But nope. Had to make the wizard look cool…before he died six episodes later.
Still baffles to me how no one in the Winx fandom thinks that may have been the point. It’s Step #1 of How to Write an Emotional Character Death: make the audience love the character. If they don’t, they won’t care if he dies! They may even be happy he’s dead! So you don’t waste a scene like that on an underdeveloped or unpopular character.
But that’s a post for another day.
Bottom line: Nabu’s magic was unbalanced because he didn’t have clear and specific abilities. Everything he did was random. It may have looked cool, but it threw off the dynamic of the group, especially for his fellow magic users, the Winx.
But that’s how a Mary Sue/Gary Stu rolls. It’s not about the group — it’s all about him. He’s the greatest, so it doesn’t matter who he upstages: the other main characters, the villains, or even his fiancée.
First, yes, we can have good men. They’re great. I love them too.
But there’s a difference between “good” and “too perfect”.
Take Timmy, Tecna’s boyfriend. The Winx fandom agrees he’s also a good man, but he’s notperfect at all. He’s a coward sometimes, gets absorbed in technology, doesn’t always know how to express his feelings (so he hides behind gadgets), can be a pushover, has low self-esteem, and is awkward in social settings.
Has he gotten better over the seasons? Yes, at least on some of these.
All this makes him a better written example of a good man than Nabu was. I’ll show you why in these posts.
Second, I see these same counterarguments everywhere: calling Nabu good, wise, kind, mature, etc.; gushing over what a sweet boyfriend he was; or listing his noble deeds. But they miss the point. They focus too much on him as a person and not as a character.
No one is saying he was too perfect because he was good or did good things. Why would that be the problem? Isn’t that what we expect from a hero?
But here’s the reality: Nabu wasn’t a real person. That means he wasn’t good on his own — he was good because Rainbow designed him that way. He didn’t do good things because he was good — he did them because the story (and the animators) forced him to. We know this, of course, but it feels like people forget it when they talk about him.
You can’t judge a fictional character the same way you would the guy you met at Starbucks. Human beings make their own choices. Characters don’t. They’re vehicles to tell a story, so everything they do and everything they are is up to the writers.
Calling Nabu a Gary Stu means Rainbow wrote him poorly for Winx Club’s story and world. What does that mean in this case? His personality and abilities were unbalanced, especially compared to the other characters.
Here’s the first of six reasons Nabu was a Gary Stu. (More posts to come.)
No Meaningful Flaws
Here’s a snippet of a comment on Yin-Yang Couple last month:
Nabu wasn’t perfect, he was a boy with deep-seated trust issues, he didn’t trust his parents’ opinion on who he should marry, he actively stalked Aisha.
We’ll talk about that last part — “he actively stalked Aisha” — in a future post. The rest is a classic defense of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu: “They’re not perfect because ________ (insert the only bad thing they did) and _____________ (insert a trait that sounds like a flaw).” Fans think if a character has any flaws at all or has made any mistakes, they can’t be a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.
I’ve helped spread this myth by saying Nabu was a Gary Stu because he had no flaws. But as the YouTuber Literature Devil explained in an almost hour-long video, a Mary Sue/Gary Stu can have flaws and make mistakes, yet still be too perfect. (Watch 8:35 – 14:25 for the basic summary.)
The problem is they have no meaningful flaws. What is a meaningful flaw? Literature Devil pointed out three key elements:
Meaningful flaws are core parts of the character’s personality, so they don’t disappear easily. They’re like bad habits: they’re hard to break.
Meaningful flaws are personal obstacles; they prevent the character from getting what they want.
Meaningful flaws must be overcome before the character can achieve their goals.
Nabu’s Flaw: Trust Issues?
Let’s look at the commenter’s first two claims again. Nabu had “deep-seated trust issues”, and “he didn’t trust his parents’ opinion on who he should marry”. Do these flaws pass the test?
To be honest, I don’t know where the commenter got #1 from. Where’s the evidence he had trust issues? Were they saying not trusting his parents is the evidence? I don’t know, but we’ll go with it.
First question: Were his trust issues a core part of his personality?
I say no. They were part of the arranged marriage subplot in Winx season three, but that’s it. We saw no moments that suggested he struggled with trusting others. In fact, it was the opposite: they didn’t trust him!
Compare him to Aisha and Riven, two characters we know have trust issues. Because of this flaw:
They’re loners: They keep to themselves, turn down invitations to spend time with friends, etc.
They don’t ask for help easily: They’re stubbornly independent (especially Aisha), so they try to handle their problems on their own.
They bottle up their feelings: Neither of them share their thoughts easily. Their friends and partners often have to coax them into it.
They’re prone to outbursts, especially in social situations where they feel uncomfortable: Being an introvert myself, I can tell you social interaction is stressful and draining. These two travel in a pack every day. Maybe that’s why they always seem angry.
They avoid difficult discussions: While they’ll both get in someone’s face and say their piece, they usually walk away instead (especially Aisha).
We know why they’re like this: it’s tied to their attachment styles. According to attachment theory, how you bonded with your parents determines how you’ll bond with your friends and partners.
Aisha’s attachment style is Avoidant. You know how she says, “I can take care of myself” all the time? That’s the Avoidant motto. People with this style want to be seen as strong and independent, so they hate relying on others.
The typical Avoidant’s parents neglected their emotional needs, give them little freedom, and/or didn’t have time for them. As a result, Avoidants think their feelings don’t matter to anyone else. They can’t handle tense emotions, and in relationships, they push their friends and partners away when they get too close.
Riven is Disorganized, a style that’s all about mixed signals. Like someone with Preoccupied attachment, the clingiest of the four styles, a Disorganized craves quality time with their partner. But once said partner gets too close, the Disorganized pulls away like an Avoidant. Yet they get jealous easily and shudder at the thought of getting dumped. They need this person. No one else can love them, right?
So if Nabu had trust issues, too, did he show any of these signs and behaviors like Aisha and Riven? No. He was nothing like these two. 🤷♀️ In fact, he criticized Riven for some of it, especially jealousy.
By the way, we’ll come back to this in a future post because it highlights another problem with Nabu.
This means we can cross out the other criteria, too. He didn’t have this flaw, so of course it didn’t hold him back, and he didn’t need to overcome it to achieve his goals.
Besides, his only goal was to win over Aisha. But he fell in love with her long before she reciprocated, and he was the first partner to open up. He just started talking about himself in “The Red Tower” (Winx season 3, episode 21) when they were stuck in a cell together. Does that sound like a guy with “deep-seated trust issues”?
As for not trusting his parents’ “opinion” on marrying her, it wasn’t an opinion. They demanded it. He had no say.
But even after he fell in love with her, Rainbow didn’t treat his (or Aisha’s) rejection of the arranged marriage as a mistake. Yes, Aisha apologized (for no reason, if you ask me), but their parents admitted they were wrong to force this on these kids. So this wasn’t about trust. His parents violated his free will, and he didn’t like it. Why would he? Later, they sided with him — after he did what they wanted, anyway. (How convenient.)
So what’s the verdict? Nabu didn’t have “deep-seated trust issues”, and his refusal to marry Aisha at first wasn’t a flaw at all, let alone a meaningful one.
Fake and Informed Flaws
If Mary Sues/Gary Stus don’t have meaningful flaws, what kinds of flaws do they have? Literature Devil named two types: fake flaws and informed flaws.
A fake flaw is a negative trait the Mary Sue or Gary Stu legitimately has, but it doesn’t meet those three criteria. It’s not a core part of their personality, it isn’t an obstacle for them, and they don’t have to overcome it to achieve their goals. The other type, an informed flaw, is a negative trait the writer tells us the character has, but they never show it in the story. Fanfiction writers often add these to their characters to try to save them from being called Mary Sues or Gary Stus.
Are there any examples for Nabu? Well, how about his informed flaw from the book Winx Club: Guida al Mondo Magico (Guide to the Magical World)? According to his profile, he “overestimates his power” (sopravvaluta il suo potere).
Wait a minute. He thought he could close a portal to the abyss by himself, and it led to his death! How was it just an informed flaw, then?
Because that’s the only time we saw it — and even that evidence is questionable. Remember: meaningful flaws are traits that don’t disappear easily. If this had been an actual flaw, we would have seen him struggle with it throughout the series or at least throughout season four.
But Nabu usually assessed his power correctly or underestimated it. For example, in “Mitzi’s Pet” (Winx season 4, episode 5), when the guys couldn’t figure out how to fix the lemon the mechanic gave them, Riven said, “Maybe Nabu could fix it with his magic.”
His response: “Well, I can try, but I can’t guarantee anything.”
Does that sound like someone who overestimated his powers? And that’s not the only example. Even as he was dying after closing the portal in “The Day of Justice” (Winx season 4, episode 24), he said, “So, did it work? Did I do it?” Bad outcome or not, he did it, so clearly he was powerful enough.
Sorry, Rainbow. Not buying it.
You know, it’s telling when even the writers don’t know what a character’s flaw is and have to make something up.
Why Characters Need Meaningful Flaws
You may think, “So what if Nabu didn’t have flaws? He didn’t need them.” That’s how a Winx fan on YouTube defended him, but they contradicted their statement by saying it’s okay as long as the character learns from their flaws. How can they learn from them if they don’t have any? 🤷♀️
That’s the most basic reason to give a character flaws: so they can grow out of them. Characters can’t change throughout the course of the story if they have nothing to change. And to quote Benjamin Franklin: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”
But flaws are also important for what I mentioned in the intro: balancing a character’s personality. A perfect character is unbalanced: they have too many positive traits and not enough flaws. What does a balanced character look like? To quote Angela Ackerman from the blog Writers Helping Writers:
If writing the Positive Trait & Negative Trait Thesaurus books have taught me anything, it is that compelling characters are neither good nor bad, perfect or fundamentally flawed. Instead, they are all of these things. Each has a set of good, admirable qualities, even while displaying frustrating or off-putting flaws….But that’s the point, isn’t it? The best characters are realistic and believable because they are just like real people. Like you or I. They have a balance of positive and negatives that give them a wholly unique viewpoint, attitude, belief system, and personality.
The Cons of Being Mature
Her Positive and Negative Trait Thesauruses are two of my favorite character creation tools. You can browse digital versions on her other site, One Stop for Writers. (Note: You have to buy a subscription to see all the info and use all the resources.) As you may have guessed, the thesauruses list lots of positive and negative traits to choose for your characters.
But regardless of the type of trait, each entry shows the good and bad sides of it.
Let’s look up one of Nabu’s traits: maturity. It’s wonderful, right? What downsides could there be?
Well, the “Associated Behaviors and Attitudes” section lists several of them:
Having a serious or somber manner
Not engaging in age-appropriate activities
Focusing more on work than on having fun or relaxing
Difficulty properly relating to people one’s age
Expressing disdain for those who lack one’s level of maturity
Bossiness: “I don’t care if you don’t want to do it. It’s not a choice.”
Treating one’s elders as one’s equals (could seem disrespectful)
And under “Negative Aspects”, it says:
Mature characters can be critical of others, making judgments based on their own accelerated development and advanced outlook. Others may view these individuals as bossy, being too serious, or lacking a sense of fun or spontaneity. Characters who are forced into maturity before their time may feel resentment and anger for having to be responsible, while siblings may be made to feel less than adequate when adults uphold the mature character as someone to be emulated.
The Pros of Being Impulsive
Since Nabu didn’t have any flaws, we’ll switch to another character for the Negative Trait Thesaurus. How about Aisha? Her most meaningful flaw is impulsiveness, but is there something good about it?
Of course there is. Here’s what we find under “Associated Behaviors and Attitudes”:
Seeing something that one wants and immediately going after it (can be a bad thing, too)
Transparency; not filtering one’s words or acting a certain way to project a desired image (again, can be a bad thing)
Fearlessness (one of her positive traits)
And under “Positive Aspects”:
Impulsive characters make life interesting and are often catalysts for change and conflict. Their ability to easily do and say what they please can be viewed by others as the ultimate freedom. If the impulsive character is also loyal to a friend, family member, or cause, there is no limit to what they would do in a time of need.
There you go. No trait, positive or negative, is universally good or universally bad. It depends on the timing and circumstances.
So if a character is perfect, we’re not just saying they have no flaws. We’re also saying they never end up in any situation — social, political, personal, etc. — where even just one of their positive traits is inappropriate, could get them in trouble, or might hold them back. Their personality is suited for anything, anyone, and anywhere.
Does that sound like a believable character?
Bottom line: it doesn’t matter how good Nabu was. He needed flaws like the other Winx characters. Life brings out everyone’s weaknesses, and even positive traits become flaws under the wrong conditions. Yet Mary Sues and Gary Stus like him seem untarnished by life. That’s not just unrealistic — it’s impossible.
If you really want to write a good man, don’t make him perfect. Let him have inner demons. Let him have vices and bad habits. Let him have embarrassing quirks that annoy his friends and partner. Let them have quirks that annoy him!
Let him be human but do good despite his flaws. Because that’s what all of us do, too.
I’ll end with a quote I found online that might sounds like it contradicts everything I’ve said, but it fits right into it:
Flaws aren’t real. One of our biggest mistakes as a culture is accepting that we have “flaws”. We indeed do not have flaws. We have differences: we have different paths of learning and growth. Why do we continue to perpetuate the degradation of our culture by accepting this mindset? There’s no such thing as a flaw in a system where perfection does not exist.
VERSE mado o aketara AH BRIGHT LIGHT yasashii hizashi ippai ni abite suteki na yokan wa sou DAY BY DAY BIT BY BIT mune ni afurete yuku
kawaranai hibi no TOBIRA o ake hikari no mukou made RIGHT NOW hajimari no ippo
CHORUS SHINY DAYS atarashii kaze hazumu you na SUTEPPU funde GO MY WAY CAN YOU FEEL sukitooru sora munasawagi ga tsurete iku BRAND-NEW WORLD LISTEN TO THE MELODY tooku kuchibue hibikasetara tobidasou mirai e