“Sparxshipping,” a.k.a. Bloom and Valtor. They’re a pairing that’s been popular since the 4Kids days. With opposing poles of the Dragon Flame — a flame of light and a flame of darkness — this couple sounds impossible, yet intriguing. How would good and evil fall in love with each other?
A better-known, non-Winx ship is “Zutara” (Zuko and Katara) from Avatar: The Last Airbender. (I’m not touching the “Kataang vs. Zutara” debate.) Some fans can’t resist the fire-water dynamic between the two benders. Even Zuko’s voice actor, Dante Basco, is a hardcore “Zutarian.”
These couples, “Zutara” and “Sparxshipping” (and technically “Kataang,” too), follow the concept of “yin and yang,” two opposite forces in harmony with each other. It’s the same theme Rainbow used for Aisha and Nex.
Yeah, yeah. They’re “Life” and “Death,” right?
Yes, I know I’ve mentioned that a dozen times. Aisha is “life” in Arabic, and nex is “death” in Latin. But remember in my recent Aisha/Nex post when I said I keep discovering things about this couple? Turns out Rainbow took the yin-yang idea further than just name meanings.
Same, Yet Opposites?
Wait a minute. Aren’t these two a lot alike?
Being yin and yang doesn’t mean being different in every way. “Yin and yang” is relative. Object A may be opposite of Object B for a different reason than Object C. It depends on what traits you’re comparing them by.
Water and fire are yin and yang because water’s cold and wet, and fire’s hot and dry. But ice and running water are also yin and yang. Even though they’re both water, running water is liquid and active, and ice is solid and stationary. (Yes, that means Icy and Aisha are yin and yang, too.)
It’s actually more complicated than that. If you’re curious (and you’re a nerd like me), TED-Ed has a short video that explains it better than I can.
Back to Aisha and Nex. Most fans think they’re exactly the same: confident, fearless, energetic, athletic, etc. Yes, they have those traits in common — if they had nothing in common, they’d have nothing to bond over — but some of their other traits couldn’t be any more different.
For example, Nex is flirty. In his debut episode, “The Flying School” (6X03), he strutted up to the Winx and said, “Hey, ladies!” Can you imagine Aisha doing something like that? Yeah, right. In fact, it was something she didn’t like about him when they first met.
“When I read a romance, I want to see how the characters complement each other — how they inspire each other to become their best selves.”
This writer from StandOutBooks.com was talking about romance novels, but it applies to any love story. It’s also the essence of “yin and yang.” The key is to give both partners what all characters should have: flaws. Not only are flaws more realistic and relatable, but they also give the characters starting points from which to grow.
Notice I said both partners. If one of them has flaws and the other doesn’t, the balance is shallow and one-sided. A classic example would be a good-and-evil pair like Bloom and Darkar (not Valtor). Darkar was the embodiment of pure darkness. No amount of light would have changed him; the Dragon Flame just cancelled him out.
The concept of “yin and yang” says nothing is completely yin or completely yang. Yin contains yang, yang contains yin, and everything contains both. So it’s not just about two forces balancing each other out — it’s about each force becoming balanced within itself. If a couple is “yin and yang,” their interactions with each other should help both of them grow and change.
We don’t know how much Aisha and Nex will end up influencing each other, but I’ve noticed they each have positive traits that balance out weaknesses and flaws in each other. Here are a few examples.
Sensitivity and Insensitivity
I’ve read another blogger’s post about this couple, and she mentioned this, too. Nex “lacks sympathy and tact.” That’s why he fell in love with Aisha, who’s “quick to sympathize with people and knows how to handle other people’s feelings.” We’ve already seen in both seasons six and seven that she’ll call him out when he’s being insensitive. He knows he needs it. Aisha can help him learn to be more compassionate.
Gentle and Tough
Aisha may be the no-nonsense girl, but she’s always had a motherly side, too. (She’s “Life,” so it makes sense.) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that her bonded pixie is a baby. Whenever the Winx have taken care of baby creatures, she’s been the best at it.
Her weakness: she’s not good at being hard on them. In season seven, she sometimes had no idea how to stop Squonk from crying. Nex, on the other hand, isn’t good at being soft.
Rainbow showed this difference between them in “Winx Trapped!” (7X10). When Nex had to calm Squonk down, he tried Aisha’s method first — petting and reassurance — but that didn’t fit his personality, so it failed. Then he switched over to discipline: “Don’t make any more trouble! It’s time for you to try to be nice and good!” It worked, even to his surprise.
Later in the episode, Aisha used her method: “Don’t cry, little one! I’m here now.” Squonk wasn’t as upset at the time, so it worked, too.
Now, I’m talking about a furry, blue…whatever he’d be in real life, so it’s a weird scenario. But imagine if it had been a child instead. I know it’s a stretch like with Flora, Helia, and Amarok, but maybe Aisha and Nex would respond to the situation the same way.
Serious and Playful
Aisha’s not boring, but she can be uptight and even moody sometimes. Even Nex called her “serious” (in the Italian version) when they first met. (He appreciates that about her, though.) And how often does she fight with Stella, the carefree comic relief of the club? Pretty much every season.
When it comes to sense of humor, Nex is more like Stella. He acts like a jokester. Unlike her, though, he knows how to be serious when he needs to be, but his default nature is outgoing and mischievous.
Aisha brightens up around him. He’s also good at cheering her up. For example, after her fight with Stella in “Broken Dreams” (6X11), she perked up when Nex challenged her to a roller blade race. He knew she would like that.
On the flip side, Nex’s humor isn’t always appropriate. That goes back to the first pair of traits. When he gets out of hand, Aisha scolds him for it.
As you read these, you may have thought, “How is this relationship working? How did they even get together?” These two don’t sound compatible — and that’s the point. The idea of “yin and yang” is that opposite forces need each other.
Go back to the meanings of this couple’s names. You’d think “Life” and “Death” would be enemies, but they can’t exist without each other. As soon as we’re born (given life), we begin to die. And if we didn’t know what death was, how would we understand what life is? The two concepts give each other meaning.
I think this quote by actress Gloria Swanson sums it up well: “Life and death. They are somehow sweetly and beautifully mixed, but I don’t know how.” Sounds oddly romantic, doesn’t it? Using this idea for a couple can be powerful — if done right. That’s one reason I think Aisha and Nex are unique for this series.
And that got heavy. Let’s talk about something lighter.
If two characters are supposed to be opposites, how would you make them to look that way? It depends on the story. Aisha and Nex don’t literally represent the ideas in their symbolism, but Rainbow found ways to hint at them through their designs.
Eye and Hair Colors
Parts of their color schemes are reversed. Aisha has brown (reddish-brown) hair, and Nex has blue hair. But she has blue eyes, and he has light brown eyes.
They’re an “interracial” couple, right? Most of us (including me) thought that was the point, but knowing their theme, we can think deeper. Aisha and Nex have opposite skin tones: dark skin and light skin. We’d also call them “black” and “white.” This could be a visual pun, since the halves of the yin-yang symbol are literally black and white.
Hairstyles and Clothes
Credit goes to my friend WorldOfWinxClub for discovering the hair symbolism by accident. We call Nex’s hair “spiky,” but look closer at it. It’s shaped like fire. Do you see it?
Aisha’s hair is wavy like — well, waves. (Duh.) It’s fire and water, just like “Zutara.” Rainbow couldn’t give Nex fire as his element because of Bloom, so they gave him a fiery personality — the hot-blooded type — with a burning head to match it. The blogger I mentioned earlier felt that Nex and Zuko are (or could become) similar characters. Maybe she was more right than she knew.
Good thing Rainbow didn’t give Aisha and Nex blue and red hair. That would have been too obvious (and cheesy). But the colors of the clothes suggest their elements. Aisha’s main colors are blue and green, and Nex wears a lot of red and orange.
You may be thinking, “That’s a lot of symbolism! Maybe too much.” Let me ask you something, though: how much of it had you noticed already? Not much, I bet. That’s partially because we don’t talk about Aisha and Nex a lot.
But there’s another reason: it was subtle. You’ll probably pay attention to it now, but if it had been obvious, everyone would have seen it by now. Rainbow found natural ways to work it in.
For example, who would look at Aisha and Nex’s skin tones and immediately think, “Oh, they’re yin and yang?” I doubt anyone did. We just saw an “interracial” couple. The symbolism gives it a hidden meaning, but it works without it, too.
Another example: a lot of fans say these two feel like a real couple. Since the essence of “yin and yang” is balance, something all couples strive for, they just felt like a pair of equals. Plus, we can’t boil down all their interactions to “yin and yang.” Even though they have a theme, they’re still unpredictable.
“Yin and yang” isn’t the only symbolism in their relationship. Nex may have a fiery personality, but his weapon is The Halberd of the Wind. (They’re like “Zutara” and “Kataang?” Weird.) Choosing wind as his element was genius. Not only does it complement water as well as fire does, but it also enhances Aisha’s character concept of “Life.”
I’ll explain next time. It won’t be the next post, but it’ll be sometime in the near future — after World of Winx season two premieres.