Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

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mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

It baffles me, I know it's a tv show, how Hector maintains his kingdom. Shuriki had the whole fear thing going with the people tended to by others. Hector just seems like one of those kings the people would demand atleast a school or playground from instead of him wasting the kingdoms wealth on other royal gifts.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

9) And now it's the first "Dia De Los Muertos" episode. This is actually the first time since the beginning we really get the full impact of the King & Queen's death, I think. Until this point, it's scarcely been mentioned since the opening three-parter, and Elena nor Isabel ever really MOURNED- there was too much action and too much "setting the stage for the show" in the early episodes. And this is also important because we showcase a "New Elena Power" (and the next episode is where her Sceptor actually DOES stuff).

It occurs to me that Disney Junior cartoons almost NEVER use words like "Dead" even in the context of a holiday. And also that the altar to the King & Queen was probably built fairly recently, given how Shuriki is perhaps unlikely to have celebrated them so. But Elena quickly discovers that her powers allow her to SEE THE DEAD, but only on this holiday, and she gets roped into the usual- "Getting involves in the personal life of a citizen", in this case trying to help Julio and his sister save their restaurant using the recipes of their dead grandmother.

I NEVER would have guessed in a million years that Julio would have shown up again- he just seemed like a standard-issue "problem of the week". But then the show started using him repeatedly! It was so cool! And even Carmen shows up in backgrounds once or twice. And Elena finally saves the day and runs off... and it turns out Isabel isn't at the celebration.

Isa: "I don't wanna go to the graveyard... I miss Mami & Papi too much" :sob:

And so Elena has to talk up how the day isn't about mourning, but about honoring people. A very nice little story about grief. Kind of interesting how they put that all in at the end and had an "A-Story", but I think it works best this way. Dwelling on it all episode would probably be overdramatic. I remember thinking how much of a shame it was that she didn't even talk to her parents in this one... but that was probably for the best, as it let them do it later without having to go through the whole "Why can I see ghosts?" origin-story thing. Here, Elena literally SEEING the ghosts of her parents is all we need.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

10) "The Scepter of Light" is a big, BIG one. Why did Elena's scepter glow in the first episode? Well NOW we know- it's a Maruvian relic that's channeling her own magical power (from being in the amulet for so long), and it lets her fire off a magical fire spell by saying "Blaze!". I was gonna say I remember NOTHING about this one, but it's actually the Orizaba one, haha. I love how Elena & Isabel completely laugh off Armando's story about Orizaba. Like Isa, you were A PAINTING for 40 years! Both of you fought shapeshifting purple elves! You know for a fact that magic exists! Isa laughing and then throwing play-punches at Armando's tummy is funny character stuff. But then a Moth Fairy from the Spirit World shows up and wrecks house, promising to deliver "The Gift of Night"- eternal darkness to Avalor! Via a song by Eden Espinosa, no less.

This one has some REALLY good character animation, especially in the Elena/Zuzo scene. Lots of playful animation with Elena's faces as she explains things. And yay, Barbie Horse is back! And Gabe's horse Fuego, and poor Mateo doesn't know how to ride, lol. It occurs to me that if Orizaba really only had ten minutes to find the Eye of Midnight and put it on the Sunstone, maybe she shouldn't have spent two of them singing her song and stating her intentions :slight_smile:

Nice "they've leveled up, but not THAT much" stuff, too- Elena JUST gains new powers, and Mateo shows a freezing-stasis spell for the first time, but Orizaba houses both of them and avoids their stuff. Like the writers are going "you're gonna have to WORK for these wins". Good world-building and ways of writing around stuff, too. Only Elena can see Zuzo, so to avoid a back-and-forth conversation, Mateo SUMMONS Zuzo so they can have a quicker conversation. A piece of Orizaba's wing gets on Elena so they learn ahead of time that "Glow", another spell, will disintegrate her. Elena uses the "Glow" spell to finally disintegrate Orizaba (we won't see her again until a cameo in the Final Episode, just sitting in the spirit world with messed-up wings).

And so this is a very, VERY important episode- we learn that Elena possesses big-time offensive magical powers, and more importantly, will have to use them. Orizaba is the biggest threat seen so far, and a big sign that more is coming.

Fun Fact: Our first shot of "Elena in pajamas" with her GIGANTIC hair let down- a look they'd repeat frequently as she's constantly getting near-TKO'd. Like, holy hell she has a lot of hair.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

11) "Olaball"- and now it's finally a Gabe-centric episode! It's funny seeing Abuela be a crazy-competitive coach, making demands and running drills. She's normally the calmest character, lol. It's Avalor vs. Carizo is a long grudge-match in a game based on the ancient Aztec ball sport, and Avalor loses its strongest player- only GABE can replace him! But... he sucks. Even though his father loves Olaball and is infatuated with Gabe trying to play.

The line delivery here is AMAZING- I repeat it every time I see this episode. It was my first hint that Aimee Carrero was a fantastic VA:
Elena: "Woowwwwwww, Gabe is..."
Naomi: "REALLY terrible."
Elena: "YAAAAAAAAA..."

And seeing Gabe TRYING to connect with his father (since his dad loves Olaball), but being rebuffed is really sad. Like, you can tell that Gabe is trying, but his dad keeps critiquing every little mistake he makes and being like "GEEZ!" and you can sense Gabe's frustration and disappointment, and his mom recognizes it immediately. Of course they later say outright that this is the issue (it's a Disney show, after all), but it's neat that you can read it easily.

The whole "dad loves sports, but the son isn't any good at them" thing isn't told that often, and it's really cool here. It KILLED my father that I wasn't any good at sports, and I felt that even as a little kid, so this one hits very close to home. He wasn't abusive about it, like Gabe's dad was, but you could feel that disappointment clear as day. Though it'd normally be funny that Gabe can go from "terrible" to "amazing" almost literally overnight (I love how Abuela is even like "We only HAVE a day and a night!") with a bit of training from Elena, it's at least established that he's a physical specimen and good at his own thing- like there's a "skill crossover" thing with being a guard to playing olaball. Plus they're taking on royalty/castle staff and not seasoned pros who train every day.

But man you really wanna deck his dad in this one, lol. First blowing off Gabe's job, getting angry at his attempts to connect, then screwing up the gameplan with his demands to see his own special moves. Interesting how Gabe is the hero of the game... but doesn't ballhog or anything- he scores a few times but gives ASSISTS as well, cuz it's a team game and all. A lot of shows would probably just have him dominate the whole thing.

And not only does Gabe win the day by taking Elena's lessons to heart, he proves that he's a great SOLDIER, too- his dad is like "Hey, now we'll get you a TRAINER, and you can play Olaball FULL TIME...", but Isa and the Corizan Princess (who is of course also an inventor) get into danger on the Aztec "Swinging Rope Thingie" and Gabe has to use his athleticism and guard knowledge to save them. And so Gabe's dad realizes that it's actually OKAY that Gabe is neither a baker nor an Olaball pro. Nice to see the King of Carizo again- he has a really eye-popping design- BRIGHT blue eyes really stand out there.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

Image

I REALLY like Elena's yellow dress in this one.

12) "Navidad" gives us a lot of Navidad traditions, helpfully letting them avoid saying "Christmas" (always an issue in kids shows these days). This is the first episode to give a big role to Dona Paloma, the most antagonistic "ally" in the show. She is mentioned as running the emporium, and both uses Elena's idea to attend ALL the parties as a way to make money, and also show up everyone else. She's likeably horrible, lol. Just so comedically vain and selfish. All these parties do sound rad, though. I couldn't decide, either. I assume many of these are based off of real traditions in Latino countries.

Elena's "attend ALL the parties!" idea is one of those classic "Elena" things- she wants to please everyone and disappoint no one, and of course it all goes to hell. Largely because Dona is like "Hey, you should buy all THIS stuff to show up the others!" and everyone starts overdoing it so everyone will think their parade float is the best one. Like, a wooden float covered in plants with candles in between them. That can't possibly go wrong.

Elena wears a LOT of unique outfits in the early episodes, honestly. 10-11 episodes in and there's been a unique one in most of them. This show has a really wide array of outfits. Even the backgrounders look cool or unique. In "Olaball" they have Repeated backgrounders in the crowd, but they actually change the color scheme so they look different!

"So that's what the holidays mean to you? Money?"
"My dear- that's what EVERY day means to me!"
-Dona is the best, lol

Carmen & Julio return- our first sign that all these "Filler Episodes" are actually IMPORTANT, as you'll be seeing these people again (sort of the opposite of what Sailor Moon does). The singer lady (Marlena) shows up for the first time and is talking and singing a bunch. Also, Isabel's friend Cristina (a girl in a wheelchair) shows up and is immediately talked to like she's been around the whole time, so she doesn't really get a "debut episode".

Ah, I see why Gabe shows up in the narrative at this point only (once everyone's floats catch on fire and it's a huge disaster)- he's a good "third party" with no stake in the game, so he's a good person for Elena to talk to. Everyone else is wrapped up as either a victim or aggressor of Dona's scheme. Elena comes up with an ideal answer- a "Parranda"! Gabe thankfully translates with "How is CAROLING gonna help?" as Elena engages in an old Puerto Rican tradition of going from door to door singing, bringing a larger and larger crowd with her.

"We haven't done a parranda in YEARS!" Yeah, I can guess why, lol. This is a FANTASTIC ending, though. Elena slowly gathering all the people in town, all the dejected float-builders, making amends and people kind of making good (Dona's "hurt puppy" face looking at them and authentic smile when they let her join them), doing that song. It's SO GOOD. In retrospect, one of the first signs the show was really good at hitting those emotional moments.

The song reminds me of "Rent", kinda. The theme about love lighting the way and all the people walking is a combo of "Seasons of Love" and "No Other Way", thematically. One of the show's better "feel good" moments, honestly- this could have been horribly cheesy in a lot of ways, but they pull it off.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

13) "Flight of the Jacquins" gives us a lot of lore and world-building. The first time we see other Jacquins that are important to the plot (some backgrounders are in the Sofia special). Zephyr's design is definitely great. A lion's mane implies authority, but since he's gray and the mane doesn't cover the top of the head it "ages" him. The differing body types of Jacquins are interesting. Cheetah-like, jaguar-like and leonine/tiger-type ones, too.

Elena's "ohhhhh" when she founds out Skylar can be unvoted by the Jacquins is a pretty great bit of animation and acting. Like you can sense her dread and disappointment that Skylar might not have the faith of his peers. But of course it's founded in facts as Skylar is easily peer-pressured by his little brother, who wants "the Bros" to be back together. We also get the first mention that Skylar is the son of the King, so that was brought up earlier than I thought. And the gates to Vallestrella open for the first time!

Wow, I forgot the Noblins showed up again. But I think I only saw this episode one single time, when it first came out. And we meet a new recurring villain- Troyo, the super-speedy Coyote with a great design- very cartoonish and exaggerated, but "pointed" with jagged edges- even his mouth is like that. The animators are definitely having a LOT of fun with Troyo. The most "animated" character seen so far- cartoony, exaggerated motions and expressions abound. Wild, evil grin and a hyper-mobile nose. I love Elena's disappointment in Skylar. She's like, legitimately just "I stood UP for you when no one else would!" and that probably stings more than the usual disappointment from Miggs.

lol, Skylar's imitation of Miggs: "I am Miggs- I am grumpy and boring- but SMART and responsible!" I do like how Skylar outsmarted Troyo, and brought the Noblins into it. Kind of plays up how he CAN do the smart and/or right thing, but with a bit of mischief and cleverness, too. What's interesting about this one is how Elena is barely in it- just the beginning, a small bit in the middle, and the end. It's almost ENTIRELY a Skylar episode. Probably the episode where Elena features the least, possibly ever (unless I'm missing one).
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

14) "Crystal in the Rough" It's one I remember almost NONE of except for some cavern and Isa not "being herself". Man, I forgot how much of a butt the bullying kid was. And it's clear he's leading the others in being all "LOL school is dumb and boring- let's act out!". Interesting how Elena's big song & dance number to make her feel better actually has Isa unconvinced in the end, and she decides to change herself to fit in! Nice callbacks to "Model Sister" with her twisty tool and the clothes-changer showing up in the song, too.

The white dress the changer makes is so neat, too (it's an alternate scheme of her Dia de los Muertos dress). I wish it had shown up more someone's blog made mention of the characters getting mini-arcs, and I realized the same thing on here a while back- that seemingly-minor characters aren't mere one-offs- we see them again and again! Quique is a jerk here, but is a friend by the end, AND shows up on "Team Isa" later!

LOL Elena is like SUCH a mom in this episode. She does the "Big Sister" act, but then literally shows up at school to embarrass Isabel by bringing her lost bag, then chaperones the trip, etc. You can just feel poor Isa dying XD. And then, with TWO ADULTS keeping track of a group of maybe 9-11 kids, they manage to lose track of three of them and they're put in a life or death struggle!

ah, now I remember how it goes- the whole adventure down the underground river and Mandatory Waterfall. And Isa uses science to save the day AND make friends, lol. Using the rubber mentioned earlier in the episode, because these writers waste NOTHING. Pretty decent episode- I never used to pay much attention to Isa ones. The teacher wasn't terribly well-animated, though. She seemed to be moving differently than everybody else.
MacynSnow
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by MacynSnow »

It's nice to see the writer's remembering the "Chekov's Gun" rule of storytelling(a lot of "Gender Equality" writer's tend to forget it nowadays.)...
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

15) "The Princess Knight". This one was always funny to me because it's basically the same premise as "Olaball", but with the characters reversed- now GABE is helping ELENA get good at a sport overnight. That it's only a few episodes after "Olaball" makes this even more obvious.

So Elena has been getting trained in swordfighting by Gabe, and seems to be doing well. But then she overhears her grandfather private thank Gabe "for letting Elena win"- I do like that Elena's EXTREMELY annoyed at Francisco for the deception. Nice character animation as Elena keeps doing "reaction" faces to Francisco telling the story of how her mother was injured in a competition years ago, and he fears the same thing happening to her.

I kinda like the character stuff behind it- Gabe is helpful, but practical. Francisco's deception comes from protectiveness, misguided as it is. And Elena is offended and defiant, pretty much dragging poor Gabe into secretly training her for the same swordfighting competition her mother lost, lol. The dynamic here is fun because Gabe is like... abrupt and "this is a TERRIBLE idea" a lot, kinda like Naomi would be, but more emphatic. And Elena calls herself "Sir Elezar" with literally the worst possible disguise (a helmet on her normal swordfighting attire, which pretty much shows off the standard-issue Curvy Disney Princess Body.

Gabe & Elena are impatient with each other in a way not seen with the others. Like, they're both such strong personalities they kinda just butt heads. Hard to imagine anyone else in the cast chucking a mango at Elena's butt, lol. "But the competition is in TWO DAYS." "And if it was a COMPLAINING contest, you'd be ready to go". ICE COLD.

Gabe's kinda fun as the "Mean Coach", but of course he congratulates her for every little advance, like a good coach would. They telegraph the ending by pointing out the "Leaping Stag" move repeatedly, but I like how Gabe has to give Elena specific advice for each opponent. It's very much like boxing or "Fighting Manga" where tactics play into things.

So she beats the Beast by using speed, but the Viper by being patient. "Play it safe! Not my strong suit, but okay!"- Elena is very self-aware, lol. And The Viper fights like Tyson- aggressive and speedblitzing, but that means he isn't used to long fights. Elena tires him out and wins when he's fatigued. Her lil' "Woo woo woo woooo!" victory dance followed by a (fake male voice) "Yeah!" is great.

And I like how her chief rival is actually a good person who admires her skill, while it's his FATHER who is the dishonest one- he reveals that years ago he CHEATED to defeat Elena's mother, causing the injury mentioned at the beginning of the episode! I like how the attempt at cheating doesn't work out, but still harms Elena enough that victory is uncertain. And when Elena's like "I'm not giving up!" Francisco has changed gears- "I HOPE not! You have come too far!". And then the expected ending with the Leaping Stag. Best part is Gabe is SO excited to see it, lol.

Elena's swordfighting actually comes up periodically over the years, but isn't really used in actual combat (since that's Gabe's forte)- more of like a fun hobby for her. But it ramps up the "Badass Princess" aspects (and justifies that weird bit in her Theme Song where she disarms a coach robber and then flies off) in more obvious ways to the audience, cluing us in that she's the "Modern Disney Princess" type who fights.
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Batgirl III »

The “Modern Disney Princess Who Isn’t Like Those Other Old Princesses” actually seems to be more of a straight-jacketed mono-archetype than “Those Old Princesses” it’s meant to replace...
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Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

I think ever since Shrek, the “Karate Princess” has been extremely common. But Disney themselves typically only had Merida and Mulan like that- Rapunzel was ultra-girly, Tiana non-violent, and Anna merely a feistypants. It wasn’t until Frozen II that we got Elsa as an omega-ultra-badass, and that’s because she’s more of a God than a human.
Jabroniville
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

16) "Captain Turner Returns"- the big one that introduces Naomi's mother (you could be forgiven for thinking she had another dead parent, as Elena, Mateo and a vast swath of Disney characters have). It occurs to me this might be the first time it's just Elena & Naomi just kind of hanging around doing "normal people stuff" and being friends? Usually there's like... a mission on. They're making a big stink out of how messy the Turner household is. It's significantly neater than my living room. I feel personally attacked. Also, Naomi's house is AWESOME. Like, totally massive, two stories, and literally right at the end of the dock. And I guess this is the episode with the "Elena puts a flower in Naomi's hair" scene.

The Turner family pictures are cute. Interestingly, they're in the Disney animation 2D style, and done like the prints you can buy in Disney parks. Is the "Captain Turner Kiss" the first actual kiss in the show? I really should keep track of these things, lol. Mom Turner's design is pretty great, though I think someone here pointed out it doesn't match the "estimated time period" of the rest of the show. Also I think she looks like a turquoise pirate. But it's cool!

Apparently the showrunners have said that Norberg (Naomi's birthplace) is actually based off of Colonial-Era America, despite the name (and all the blonde people) implying Norway. Except Norberg has a Queen. Well most of these places are only tangentially based off of places (like how Avalor is like "multiple Latino nations").

But yeah, the crux of the episode is that Captain Turner announces that she got a great new job, so the entire family is moving back home to NORBERG! This is naturally incredibly upsetting for the girls, but Naomi's excited to see her family finally united for once- her mom is so busy sailing around the world that the whole family is rarely home all at once. So Elena tries to invent a new role for Captain Turner to stay in Avalor, but she's confused and isn't really having it. Elena going "Game Show Host" at the stuff she plans on giving Naomi is pretty great.

"Well it was nice knowin' ya, Naomi!" oh Gabe XD. Dona Paloma using her skills for good is pretty funny, too. As is Gabe going all "target approaching" like it's a military operation when they're trying to butter the Captain up. D'awwwwwwwww all the teary-eyed hugs, though. Everyone's so sad! And then Gabe has to act tough like usual, haha. Poor Naomi doesn't want to disappoint her parents, so she decides against telling them how she feels, so we get a very unique ending- her mom is perceptive enough to notice something's "off" (detecting Naomi's look is one of disappointment but trying to hide it), and that sets off Naomi's big reveal at not wanting to leave.

And so Capt. Turner accepts Elena's offer and we retain the status quo, but at least we get a new character and a nice episode where everyone mourns potentially losing a friend (even though it's pretty early in the series).
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

17) "King of Carnaval". Victor & Carla make their debut! It occurs to me that given the 41-year time gap between the takeover and now, Victor is an exceptionally-well-aged 58 or so, and had a kid when he was in his mid-40s. Victor's backstory as the son of the royal treasurer is something I'd forgotten. It's kinda funny how he's played up as the "lovable scamp" while also making it super-clear he's pretty evil now. In any case, Victor turns out to be Esteban's co-conspirator in allowing Shuriki into Avalor (and thus is an accessory to the regicide of Elena's parents), but was exiled while Esteban did nothing in his defense- therefore, Victor is now highly bitter and vengeful, and wants the crown jewels, blackmailing Esteban with the truth so that he'll be part of the burglary. Carla sounds a bit higher-pitched than I remember from later in the show. But her sleight-of-hand in getting the key to the treasury is pretty great. And this is our first shot of the Captain of the Guard, I think!

Interesting bit in Esteban's song- "I must protect my family's heart... I cannot break their world apart!" Hurting them is now something he "would never do". And since he's singing it to himself, it's largely true- he knows the truth would hurt them and is concealing it as much for that as for his own self-preservation. But still he diminishes his crime as "my little lie". And hey- do we ever see Esteban's "sleight of hand" again? He's pulling off some D&D Rogue-tier tricks here. Taking rings off of fingers without people knowing?

haha so Victor DID reveal everything about Esteban leading Shuriki into the kingdom, but Elena blows it all off as a lie, then diminishes Esteban's crimes herself, even while he's confessing to feeling guilty about being part of Shuriki's reign. "Well you SHOULDN'T (feel guilty)- you did what you had to do to survive!" Another athletic feat- Carla is riding side-saddle at full gallop, lol. I notice that a lot more after Downton Abbey noted such things frequently. The final action piece, setting up Elena & Esteban working together inside a runaway Carnaval float, is pretty good, and Victor & Carla make their first of many escapes.

I do like all of Avalor City piling in on the thieves to save the day- a show of how much Elena is actually loved. And now I'm curious why Victor brought Shuriki into the kingdom, but was exiled anyways. And I asked around the fandom- this was never explained!
mrdent12
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by mrdent12 »

I do like all of Avalor City piling in on the thieves to save the day- a show of how much Elena is actually loved. And now I'm curious why Victor brought Shuriki into the kingdom, but was exiled anyways. And I asked around the fandom- this was never explained!
I never thought to ask that question. I'd just assumed I missed some bit where Victor angered Shuriki or something.
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Re: Elena of Avalor- Series Overview

Post by Jabroniville »

mrdent12 wrote: Fri May 14, 2021 5:20 am
I do like all of Avalor City piling in on the thieves to save the day- a show of how much Elena is actually loved. And now I'm curious why Victor brought Shuriki into the kingdom, but was exiled anyways. And I asked around the fandom- this was never explained!
I never thought to ask that question. I'd just assumed I missed some bit where Victor angered Shuriki or something.
Yeah, I kind of didn't watch the show SUPER-intently at first, and rarely watched re-runs, so a lot of this was lost on me. But realizing how far in advance the showrunners worked (with things being planned AGES in advance), with such deep lore, this one stood out to me.

Granted, Shuriki was a pretty vindictive, horrible ruler, so it's easy to guess why she wouldn't be the best person to work for. And given a lot of Hector's goals revolve around being made a Malvago, and Shuriki didn't allow anyone else to practice magic, maybe that's part of it.
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