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Love Triangle War - How Deliberate Was It?

Bryke and co. must be pretty experienced at dealing with the fandom's reactions to their work by now. After all of ATLA, they've probably got a firm grasp on the dynamics of shipping wars and fandom hate. Which makes me wonder just how much of the emotional rollercoster that was the LoK shipping war did they plan out? Were they expecting us all to react the way we did, or did we manage to suprise them with our fanaticism yet again? (And by US in this case I am always making an enormous generalization about the fanbase, not refering to anyone in particular.)

Specifically, there are two issues that I'm curious about:

1) Asami Hate: When Asami was first introduced, there was an incredible explosion of hate towards her. She was accused of stealing Mako from Korra, of delibrately running him over so she could ensnare him, of being a prissy shallow girl, of being (to be polite) a loose woman, of being an Equalist, of being Amon, and even worse. And the hate didn't die down for a long, long time. Even after she proved herself by not joining her Dad people were still insisting that she must be a spy for the Equalists.

Did Bryke see all this coming? And more importantly, did they delibrately introduce Asami in such a way that people would want to hate her? After all, we didn't get to see her being awesome on the race track until episode 7, so her character remained somewhat shallow for a long time. Her design in terms of dress and physical features is all dark red and black (contrasting with Korra's light blue); was that picked to make us subconsiously suspicious of her? Not to mention that her design was based on that for the character Lust from another show.

2) Makorra Backlash / Mako Hate: Despite the general dislike of her at first, Asami somehow managed to force us all to like her over the course of season 1 (with a few exceptions of course). She refused to turn evil no matter how often we predicted it. She refused to do anything that might betray a mean-spirited or cruel personality, such as taking out her relationship problems on Korra. And she kept losing things: her father, her wealthy lifestyle, and eventually her boyfriend. So of course we felt sorry for her. By the end of the season, Asami had been transformed into the fandom's "darling," and most of her hate was replaced with fervent wishes for her to find another hunky man to make her happy in season 2.

The side effect of people liking Asami more seems to be that they got annoyed with Mako, since he could be blamed for making her unhappy. And many fans have even stated that their disatisfaction with seeing Asami hurt kept them from thoroughly enjoying the Makorra ending. But it doesn't make a lot of sense that Bryke would want fans to be unhappy with their canon couple.

What do you think? How much of this was planned out, and how much just happened? And if they planned this all out and manipulated us like Azula would, why did they? (I've heard a few people suggest that it was a take-that to shippers.)

Oh, and here's a really nice analysis of how some of this manipulation was played out:

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