aquaburst3

I thought of something. Belos and Luz might also be foils in the sense of male isekai protagonists vs female isekai protagonists.

Belos resembles both male isekai protagonists in modern anime and the classic escapist hero like John Carter or Flash Gordon.

Take John Carter. In the John Carter of Mars books, he's a strong man. When he's ieskai'd to Mars, he's gifted with the ability to "jump good" (along with telepathy for some reason). This pretty much allows him to power through the plot with no effort and becomes the king of Mars by taking power for himself. (Did I mention he's a massive Gary Stu?) He constantly boasts about how strong, handsome and awesome he is like a z list Gaston. (Did I mention this is told in first person?) Add in the fact that he's a Confederate General along with the colonizer overtones with this whole situation (ie a white dude conquering and taking power from a place where he's not native to), and you can see how problematic John Carter is in modern context and how he could be twisted to become a villain in a modern tale.

John Carter influenced a lot of genres, even indirectly in the case of something like My Hero Academia along with a lot of superheroes in general, including modern isekai male leads. Even in modern anime they tend to be like that as well due to that adding to the wish fulfillment fantasy on its audience of teenaged boys. Think Kirito (in the fact that's an OP Gray Stu, not goals), Ainz Ooal Gown, Sora or Diablo. (Though there are exceptions like Naofumi, Subaru and Slime-kun.)

Belos resembles them in the sense that he is always power hungry. He took power, becoming the emperor, and puts on the façade of being a hero the people their need. He also might've gave himself a curse in pursuit of more power. If the theory about him not being of that world is true, that means that he did that all the while being a newcomer to a fantasy universe.

Female isekai leads are not like that. Modern female isekai leads work hard to obtain their goals. A lot of them have more grounded and personal goals like becoming a librarian, survival or trying to get past all of the death flags in the video game they were reincarnated in. Older isekai female heroines like Alice and Dorthey, they have to make the hard choice of whether or not they want to go home.

Luz is never interested in conquering the Boiling Isles. She enjoys being there, seeing it as an escape from her dull life. She's more fascinated about the world around her and wants to learn how to do do her own brand of magic. Like those older heroines, she must ultimately decide if she stay or go.

If this is what Dana had in mind while creating Belos, major kudos to her. Because it's interesting commentary in the genre. It's fun to see those two different style of leads clash.

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This makes a LOT of sense, esp since Belos is a white man and as Philip would’ve been a Puritan, AKA a colonizer that like any other is glorified in real world history- Especially America’s, especially Connecticut’s, where Luz comes from and grew up and wasn’t exactly happy in! By contrast, Luz is an Afro-Latina woman, so Luz and Belos’ race and genders reflect their different approaches to Isekai.

Which, is incredibly fitting with how male Isekai is typically more of a wish fulfillment and power fantasy where everyone falls head over heels and recognizes this dude who was mediocre back home for the LEGENDARY hero he actually is, because it’s totally the fault of society for not propping him up even further and holding him back, and not just his general mediocrity; 

Whereas female protagonists tend to be a lot less confrontational and aggro, and generally reasonable. So given the deconstruction themes of this show, I like seeing it frame this kind of hyper-masculine conquerer fantasy as truly f’ed up and racist, while Luz learns to engage with this world as a member in a respectful and humble way, actually listening to it and abiding by its rules and customs, as well as the general social requirements she finds here and back home.

And, as an ND and GNC girl of color, this makes her plight back home feel a lot more relatable and her repressed frustration more justified, VS some ordinary white guy who feels like a nobody, because there’s this expectation for white guys to be the absolute best and for people to fawn over them, so when they don’t automatically have that, there’s this bitter entitlement over not having that, jealousy towards ‘jerks who get the girls while nice guys finish last’, that sort of thing. Clearly it’s the fault of society for holding these guys back, and they’d TOTALLY prove how awesome they are under the right circumstances!

Luz is by contrast actually oppressed and held back by society... There really is something entitled about Mediocre White Man syndrome and how it relates to these power fantasy takeovers, while female protagonists typically don’t focus on that, which of course says a lot about the different things these genders go through, and just what their idea of a power fantasy looks like; 

For dudes it’s along the line of authority and control over others (and it’s less about ‘dignity and respect’ and more banging whatever chicks they desire), while for women it’s more self-empowering and about being able to actually get along with people and be given the bare minimum of respect- If it’s even about ‘power’ and not just the fascination of exploring this weird world! There is no need for universal glory, just a level of basic acceptance by the world, sometimes not even that but simply acceptance amongst a select group of peers and found family- That’s all she’s asking for!

This of course applies to Luz learning in the second episode that she’s NOT a Chosen One who can just steamroll over other, she needs to be genuine with them to make great change- And people aren’t automatically the villain for not immediately liking her, and are at times somewhat justified for resentment over Luz’s mistakes! And that an obsessive desire to make others like her can cause harm to those people, who are then justified in their anger!

And by being genuine, by just wanting to talk to people and be friends, form close relationships on their level instead of holding them back at a distant and elevated worship, Luz is much more affective at implementing a real social change in motives and natural behavior without forcing it, unlike Belos- Because Luz is sincere. And again, being a GNC, bisexual, ADHD afro-latina woman plays into her empathy with others and their mistreatment and suffering, considering THEIR problems to be equally valid- When Luz forgets or ignores that, usually it’s in the context of trying to help those people and overstepping boundaries with good intent, and/or her ADHD mindset causing Luz to forget, which in itself is more understandable.

All of this also connects to Hunter, who is our Token White Boy who wants to be emotionally vulnerable with his cute birb and toy plushes, who is stressed by this divine role of superiority that Belos places on him- And HE is headcanoned as a queer, neurodivergent trans dude by fans for a reason. He’s abused, Hunter is also a deconstruction of this Chosen One destiny because he’s clearly groomed and suffocated by the pressure and expectations, especially at such a young age which is typically when these Chosen Ones have to deal with all this, another deconstruction!

So then Hunter, who is more ‘redeemable’ and sympathetic than Belos, is clearly unhappy with this assigned destiny of power and just wants to be normal and live a happy and humble, probably bookish given his interest in magic, life- Learn it for curiosity and not power! This could be a commentary on how a lot of people only feel dissatisfied and entitled like this because of societal expectation to be better than others and look down on them, which influences and corrupts what would’ve otherwise grown to be pretty innocent and humble dreams. Hunter doesn’t want to deal with Belos’ idea that he should expect and thus accept power because he’s inherently ‘special’, kid just wants to be normal. 

So did Luz, who initially went for being ‘special’ to justify her mistreatment, to emulate her heroes because she thought it could help her heal from it all, but very quickly Luz understands she doesn’t need that to recover, she just wants to be normal and even then mostly herself- Which of course makes her conflict with the system’s idea of ‘normal’, hence why Luz wants to learn all magic tracks, because it’s what she genuinely wants and the system is flawed, VS some entitlement that she’s special and deserves that unique treatment- Luz insists for it on behalf of Viney and the others, too.

Even Belos might be more sympathetic than your typical Mediocre White Man mold too, even if he does fit it most- Because as Philip Wittebane, there’s this likelihood that this dude was also neurodivergent and initially interested in just learning and sharing information... And as a Puritan, may have raised and suppressed by that culture, too! 

So even if his background’s norms ultimately affected and corrupted Philip in the end, we see that like Hunter, he originally didn’t want to be that, and just wanted a humble happiness and joy! Sure he wanted to explore the fantastical, but that in itself is not necessarily arrogant, especially with how Luz shows you can still be respectful, genuine, and unconditional in your curiosity, for the sake of it and NOT glory and recognition.