I Got Your Back!: Battle Couples

Asuna and Kirito, Sword Art Online
Asuna and Kirito, Sword Art Online

The only thing better than going into a battle for all that is good and right is having your significant other with you. Time for my favorite battle couples!

What is a battle couple? There are lots of Asian popular culture that feature action and romance. There are lots of couples where one member of the couple (usually the guy) is a righteous warrior.  Warrior women are all over the place, but they aren’t always in relationship with other warriors. Two people can be warriors,  but they aren’t necessarily in a romantic relationship. A battle couple has the best of both worlds, where both members are equally talented and they are committed to each other and equally able to throw down.

One of the more recent and captivating battle couples is Kirito and Asuna in Sword Art Online, an ongoing anime that began in 2009. Some have declared Kirito and Asuna the best anime couple of all-time, and for good reason. Like many battle couples, they are well-matched. Kirito is known for being a pretty good solo player, and Asuna quickly rises in the ranks of her clan.  They complement each other, learn from each other and remain complex characters apart from their relationship. Because they are stuck in an online game that can result in their death in real life, some characters refuse to form attachments to other characters.  However, Kirito comes to understand that relationships mean even more in the game because their lives are in mortal danger. Kirito also shows that he can be an awesome warrior as well as a sensitive guy. Let’s face it, all the girls like Kirito. Rather than being a jerk about it, he helps the ladies, but reminds them that, at the end of the day, Asuna is his girl.

One of the great things about Asuna is that she does not become a weaker warrior as a result of her relationship with Kirito. She’s a smart, capable player. One of my favorite scenes occurs after Kirito and Asuna get married (yes!) and go on their honeymoon. There is a sea monster in the lake, and the locals want Kirito to take care of it. It turns out to be larger than he anticipated, and he gets knocked to the ground. Asuna, who is waiting on the shore, sighs, breaks out her sword and gets to work. Aghast, the locals ask Kirito if he is going to help. He kinds smirks and says the equivalent of, “She got this.”   Kirito isn’t possessive, and Asuna isn’t jealous.  They are awesome apart and awesome together and nothing comes between them.

Huang Rong and Guo Jin, Legend of the Condor Heroes, 2008
Huang Rong and Guo Jin, Legend of the Condor Heroes, 2008

My favorite, all-time battle couple, however, is Huang Rong and Guo Jin of Legend of the Condor Heroes. I’ve watched the 1983 version and the 2008 version, and this story never gets old. These two work as a couple because they complement one another. Huang Rong is the daughter of Huang Yaoshi, unparalleled martial arts master. She’s wanders around by herself, making mischief wherever she goes. She gets away with it  because she’s Huang Yaoshi’s daughter (he taught her well).  As a result, she’s a little (ok, a lot) spoiled and full of herself when she meets Guo Jin. Guo initially comes off as hapless, but he has an impeccable kung fu pedigree. Guo Xiaotian is Guo Jin’s father, and Yang Tiexin is Xiaotian’s sworn brother. Both Xiaotian and Tiexin die as kung fu heroes. Moreover, Guo Jin is taught by a bevy of kung fu masters. Huang Rong and Guo Jin are well matched in terms of martial arts skills, but their personalities also complement each other. Guo Jin helps Huang Rong to have compassion for her fellow human beings, and Huang Ron helps Guo Jin develop some self-confidence. Don’t go insulting her man!

Close behind them are Mama (She Saihua) and Papa Yang (Yang Ye) of the Yang family. My favorite adaptation is The Young Warriors (2007), where you see how the warrior family chills out at the crib. While they are few sequences where both Mama and Papa Yang fight together, the series reinforces the fact that both are capable warriors. I like them as a battle couple because they are very supportive of each other as they try to keep their family intact. Like Huang Rong and Guo Jin, they are equally talented. Not only do you get to see Mama Yang beat down those who threaten her family, she will also get on her own sons when they are not acting right. Her strength comes from being a kung fu expert and her wisdom in dealing with domestic issues in her house and with the royal court. There are lots of scenes showing Papa Yang’s talents on the battlefield, but these are balanced with the way he cares about his wife. These two care about each other, even though they are fierce warriors.

Battle on, couples, battle on!

Images: Click on image for citation information.
Creative Commons License
I Got Your Back!: Battle Couples by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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