June feature: Mako
Mako is the team leader of the up-and-coming Fire Ferrets. In the pro-bending arena, he and his brother, Bolin, are known as the Fabulous Bending Brothers. Popular among fans for being "cool under fire," Mako is capable of turning the tides of a losing match through skilled footwork and strategic bending. With a pro-bending style as eyecatching as his looks, Mako gave many a fan in the audience a worthy show during the recent season.
But life wasn't always smooth sailing for our dashing firebender. In the competitive ring of Republic City, everyone loves an underdog, and Mako is a prime example of someone who started with nothing and made it big by reaching the pro-bending championships. An orphan who lost his parents to a criminal firebender as a child, Mako and Bolin once made their living running numbers for the Triple Triads, a prominent gang within city borders, who fished the hapless brothers out of a dumpster. It was none other than Toza, the pro-bending legend, who offered the brothers an honest way of life with pro-bending, and Mako and Bolin have been living in the attic of the arena since.
Mako did not only do himself a service, however, but Republic City as well. Threatened with the championship's cancellation when paranoia over Equalist rebel Amon was at an all-time high, Mako pushed for the finals to draw the denizens of Republic City together in a communion between benders and non-benders. Although the Fire Ferrets lost the season to foul play from theWhite Falls Wolfbats, Mako and Bolin went on to ally with Avatar Korra against Amon, exposing the insurgent's false identity and ending the Equalist movement.
The Fabulous Bending Brothers' civic duty doesn't change the fact that the Fire Ferrets lost the championship. Where the beloved pro-bending team goes now is anyone's guess. Will the Fire Ferrets return for another season, or will the brothers strike out to another department within Republic City, where they'll surely touch the hearts of many others?
His affair with industrial belle
Prior to the championships, Mako found love with the daughter of Future Industries' founder, Asami Sato, after she ran into him on her moped. They were next seen together at Kwong's Cuisine, a restaurant for the wealthy, where Asami provided Mako the clothes of a first class citizen as an apology. Then moved by Mako's financial plight, she offered financial aid for the Fire Ferrets, of whom she is a fan, kicking off a relationship with the pro-bender.
Some may accuse Mako of being a gold digger, but it's likely that he fell in love with Asami for her willingness to support him in addition to her elegant visage. Having refused his own brother's help in acquiring the exorbitant amount of yuans needed to enter the championship, Asami's unconditional gift after a long childhood without must have been exhilarating. To make the support a two-way street, Mako reportedly helped Asami "feel so safe," (book one, episode four) which is an incredible feat considering that Asami's mother, wife of Hiroshi Sato, was murdered by a firebender many years ago.
The lovebirds had a fallingout, however, when Asami discovered that Mako and Korra had kissed. Asami had just left her father's side upon learning the shocking truth of his affiliation with the Equalists, and the second betrayal by Mako led to frigid interactions between the lovers. In the end, Mako apologized and the two made up, though it's unlikely that they'll be resuming their romance anytime soon. If nothing else, Mako has expressed in clear words that he will always be there for Asami, true to his role as the protector in any given relationship.
The pro-bender-Avatar Dynamic Duo
Avatar Korra took the pro-bending world by storm when she appeared as a stand-in for the Fire Ferrets' waterbending no-show, only to bend both water and earth once push came to shove, almost disqualifying herself on her very first match. Despite the initial hiccup, Korra rose to match the toughest pro-benders, all the while cultivating her feelings for her team leader, Mako, who was already in a relationship with Asami Sato. Just like she pursued pro-bending with all of her heart, so did she in her quest to capture Mako's.
For the Avatar, who prizes the thrill of bending and action, Mako's remarkable talent as a firebender and pro-bender must have been attractive, so much so that she believed that they were "meant for each other" (book one, episode five). Although Mako, too, found himself drawn to Korra's passion, he rebuffed her advances until she initiated a kiss he returned in the heat of the moment. Mako later showed uncharacteristic aggression when Korra was abducted by councilman Tarrlok, shutting out both his brother and then-girlfriend to attend to the Avatar's rescue, and thereafter ensuring that she was safe under his watch, even once he engaged in an altercation with Asami, who'd learned about the kiss.
The rest, one might say, is history, as Mako and Korra have now started a relationship in earnest. Not everyone is a fan of how the Future Industries Fire Ferrets' team leader and the Avatar came together, but the best others can do is wish the new couple good luck.
The big brother
The Fabulous Bending Brothers share a commonality in their pedigree and ability to bend, but they're about as far removed from each other in personality as they can possible be. Whereas Bolin is beloved by fans for his warmth and amicable nature, Mako is noted to be comparatively standoffish and driven by what others might call self-interest – in the interest of himself and his brother, of course.
"I did what I had to do to survive and protect my little brother," said Mako (book one, episode two). Mako's promising career as a pro-bender belies the tragic tale of a boy and his brother orphaned after their parents' murder. Inheriting his father's scarf, Mako took it upon himself to be the parental figure for Bolin at a tender age. The hardships they faced brought them closer while teaching them not to take the little things for granted.
"Bread tastes so much better than what we ate yesterday," said Bolin (Republic City Hustle, part 1). Mako replied, "We didn't eat yesterday."
Mako continues to watch over Bolin, even on matters that would make more sense to tackle as a joint responsibility. It was Mako who grew up quickly, allowing Bolin the small mercy of remaining innocent as a street urchin; evidently, Mako is still intent on keeping this trend as he deigns to keep Bolin in the dependent role, presumably on the belief that he should be the one to handle adult affairs. Whether he's aware of Bolin's disapproval of the situation is unclear, but it's clear that each brother just wants to help the other.
The brothers hit a snag when Mako and Avatar Korra were seen kissing mere moments after the latter's alleged date with Bolin. Bearing the verbal assault for the brief love affair, Mako hauled his aggrieved brother home, and they reconciled later that night during a match with Korra's intervention.
Despite their disagreement, the brothers collaborated to play in the pro-bending championship finals and defeat Amon in one fell swoop with the true spirit of brotherhood. Now that the dust has settled, it seems, to many's surprise, that they might be parting ways careerwise. Bolin has stated that he will continue in the pro-bending arena as the new team leader of the Fire Ferrets, leaving the question of where Mako intends to bring in yuans the next season.
Thank you for reading Probender! Check back another time for more issues.
Letter from the editor
Mako is a remarkable pro-bender and friend, but he's a lousy lover – not because he's unloving or disloyal, but because he's an accomplished lightningbender. Bending lightning comes from a clear mind, which means a firebender with uncontrolled baggage has no hopes of pulling off such an extraordinary subset of bending. Mako, though not without his grievances, is an expert at burying his feelings and keeping a cool head under fire, which means that he's not good at handling his feelings when he has to evaluate alien emotions – in this case, romantic love – without the option of pulling back.
With Asami, we observed that Mako is the type of young man to fall fast and hard in love. This quality in and of itself poses no threat to his relationship, as Mako prizes the safety and feelings of his loved ones above all else. While he does find himself confused after Korra's botched confession, he actively rejected Korra in consideration of his commitment to Asami, whom he loved and wasn't perplexed by in loving. He has the capacity to love many times, but he would never deliberately betray the person with whom he's bound.
Mako is a protector, which can play to his boon, as well as his detriment. Initially, he played the role of safety net when Asami left her father by holding her and loving her at a difficult time. Unfortunately, in an attempt to prevent her from emotional harm, he also hid the fact that he'd kissed Korra, leaving Asami to find out from someone else.
The subsequent blowup between Mako and Asami was notable for one thing, it being that the former failed to apologize when the latter refused to let the subject drop. In fact, Asami accused Mako of shifting blame onto his brother for telling, when all Mako had wanted was to shield her heart from the muddled truth. Korra had taken advantage of Mako's vulnerability when she'd initiated the kiss, as it had taken place after his confession of being confused about his feelings; however, Mako doesn't hold this against Korra, and rather preferred to bury what had happened for the sake of maintaining the status quo. Regardless of his intentions, Mako did himself no favors until he finally apologized for betraying Asami's trust, at which point the two embraced and let their ill feelings go, though not without significant damage to their fading relationship.
Mako means well, and he has a good head on his shoulders, but his natural qualities in addition to having responsibilities thrust upon him as a young boy reason that he's far from reaching emotional maturity. He was ill-prepared to handle the event of falling in love more than once; and thus, in a futile attempt to not hurt anyone, he ended up disappointing everyone he loves instead. At the very least, he learned a hard lesson with this dramatic experience, and he continues to cherish both Korra and Asami to this day as those dear to him whom he's sworn by his heart to protect.