Scott Pilgrim Takes Off And What It Means To Have No Sparks

It’s been eye-opening to see the widespread reaction to Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. Audiences have nothing but positive things to say about the anime, reliving their nostalgia for the classic graphic novel with new fan art and interpretations of characters previously not possible. But of course, others are miffed that their titular character is nowhere to be seen for most of it.


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Spoiler warning for Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

Many of these viewers apparently failed to notice the other part of the title, in which Scott very literally ‘takes off’ from proceedings after being defeated in his debut battle against Matthew Pattel. It then turns into Ramona Flowers vs The World as she makes up with her seven evil exes and tries to figure out exactly where our favourite loner has buggered off to. It’s a bold subversion of the original tale, and the fact some are angry that the character they grew up idolising now comes off in a different light speaks volumes. It’s central to the show’s message of bettering ourselves and being unafraid to make up for past mistakes, even if it means acknowledging that, once upon a time, you weren’t a very good person.

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Scott Pilgrim and those involved with his creation have grown up, so, of course, they’d want to tell a more mature and introspective story a decade removed from Edgar Wright’s film. There was an opportunity to explore new ground, and they took it further than any of us could have expected. This includes queer representation, with Takes Off doing a better job at respecting the sexuality of its characters and LGBTQ+ relationships formed throughout its eight episodes. It never shies away from it and treats bisexuality as a normal facet of life among an ensemble cast who are still figuring themselves out, sleeping around, and making silly mistakes.

However, there is one moment between Roxy Richter and Kim Pines that queer fans aren’t too fond of. After making up with Ramona Flowers about a college break-up that saw the two girls separate without a word, the three characters are hanging out and being casually flirtatious in spite of lacking a romantic flame. Suddenly, Kim decides to see if girls – specifically Roxy – are in her wheelhouse. Legs locked, they share a kiss that is surprisingly wet and passionate, haggard breaths exchanged before the two pull away and immediately proclaim that there were “no sparks” to be found. Nothing to ignite or take seriously, so the kiss is brushed off as a failed experiment as normality resumes.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Kim And Roxy Kiss

Credit: Netflix

It’s a moment of queer mundanity the comics traded in frequently, many of which are resurfacing in the wake of the show’s success. Sparks, at least in the world of Scott Pilgrim, appear as a sign of true love or genuine interest on behalf of either party involved, so when none appear, it’s not meant to be.

Some online criticised this kiss for being framed in the male gaze or trying too hard to seem sexy with its awkward spit swapping and incredibly sudden panting. It’s uncomfortable for a queer audience who wanted to see something authentic between these two women, but the kiss isn’t and was never going to come from a place of love or attraction because, as Takes Off makes abundantly clear, there were no sparks.

There is no shame in trying something or experimenting with your sexuality in the comfort of trusted friends, and it takes maturity to reach that far and then deal with the aftermath without consequence. Not all queer hook-ups or relationships are perfect, and sexuality is a fluid spectrum where one day you can fall for something while several years later it fails to carry the same interest. Takes Off depicts that in a way that, while momentarily cringe, is true to life even with its stylish anime execution.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Kim And Roxy Kiss

Sparks are a constant throughout the show. Todd Ingram feels sparks when he kickstarts an affair with Wallace Wells, going back to his trailer to rehearse lines (read: have lots of sex) in secret. There are no sparks for Wallace, he is in it for seductive distraction, not true love. But he has the emotional maturity to understand that Todd is still discovering who exactly he wants to be. His heartbreak is mostly played for laughs and he gets over it, but his sparks are real, and the show never discounts the joy of discovery that comes from such a thing.

Wallace’s first experience of real sparks is one of the final moments we ever see as he takes a vacation in Europe and exchanges a kiss with a man who I’m pretty sure is Mobile from the comics, a future boyfriend we’re bound to see more of in future seasons. The sudden arrival of sparks catches him by surprise, validating his sexuality and the idea that perhaps there is a future for him beyond casually sleeping around – a man he can fall in love with and explore new opportunities alongside.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Wallace Wells

Sparks play a pivotal role in Scott Pilgrim and goes beyond flashy visuals and character relationships. Many are quick to view Scott and Ramona’s relationship as rushed, but literal sparks appearing as they hooked up was enough to convince Ramona that this dorky gamer boy meant something to her, and not seeking him out would be a huge mistake. She does everything in the name of sparks, and that motif carries throughout every member of the cast in obvious yet subtle ways.

It’s okay to feel sparks, it’s okay to feel none at all, because regardless of their presence, you’re still learning exactly who you are and want to be. Even if that means sudden flings doubling as sexual awakenings or an impromptu kiss with a new friend bound to lead you nowhere, everything is a learning experience.

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