Hiroshi: Young man, it is nothing to be ashamed of. I too came from humble beginnings. Why, when I was your age, I was a mere shoe-shiner, and all I had to my name was an idea — the Satomobile. Now, I was fortunate enough to meet someone who believed in me and my work ethic. He gave the money I need to get my idea off the ground, and I built the entire Future Industries empire from that one, selfless loan. […] Now, I’d hate to see you lose your chance at winning the championship just because you’re short a few yuans. That’s why I’m going to sponsor the Fire Ferrets in the tournament! […]
Mako: Thank you both so much. I promise the Fire Ferrets will make the most of this opportunity.
my god the hate i bear for hiroshi sato
asami stans with their hearts in the right place must bear an equivalent hatred for hiroshi sato, but i chiefly hate him as a mako stan; let me explain
here hiroshi is espousing an extremely american attitude - the bootstraps story, the horatio alger myth that any poor young man who only tries hard enough and dreams big enough and works hard enough can make it big - and it’s such a beautiful and compelling story, isn’t it? this robust, turn-of-the-century optimism, blind to systems of oppression and privilege, and hiroshi paints this picture so big and bright
and mako buys it hook line and sinker - how not? (even though it implies that if you do not make it, it is your fault for not working hard enough - no one is thinking on this level yet)
here is the proof of hiroshi’s story all around him, this bright and industrious factory, hiroshi’s beautiful well-mannered daughter - mako has changed out of asami’s charitable kuang suit and is back in his shabby clothes, but hiroshi is kind enough to drag his poverty out into the open, bluntly, so that it is no shameful and unspoken secret, and then render it immaterial by simply saying, i believe in you - i believe in your work ethic - i believe you can make it - I BELIEVE YOU ARE LIKE ME - I BELIEVE YOU CAN ACHIEVE MY LEVEL OF SUCCESS
please think: how long has it been since mako had someone believe in him like that? someone who wasn’t a gang member, wasn’t a triad… how long since someone took a personal interest in him, someone who wasn’t a criminal, someone he had no reason to suspect of ulterior motives? mako, who seems such a tough cookie to crack, mako and his fortress of surliness that intimidates most strangers from even trying - mako, uncharacteristically, has his defenses blown wide open by the unexpected stroke of good fortune that is getting to meet hiroshi fuckin’ sato. mako is as vulnerable as a baby chick ready to imprint, thrust out of any setting that is comfortable and familiar, nervous and excited, and hiroshi sets him at his ease, believes in him, and provides the tangible sort of proof that mako needs - in korra’s case it was results in the ring; in hiroshi’s case it’s yuans, a pile of cold hard yuans that opens a whole hallway full of doors in mako’s imagination - now it really is just up to him and his talent!
please remember that mako lost his father at age eight, a father he loved so much that he wears his father’s scarf day in and day out in memoriam - and here is a gray-haired older gentleman with fire nation eyes, smiling and kind, who says mako, i believe in you, let me show you how much i believe in you, and puts a cash value to it without mako ever asking, without mako ever even dreaming to ask
and mako could never have expected this, could never have hoped for this, the way a gold-digger might have angled, the way a gold-digger might have planned - he had no idea asami was the sato girl, he had no expectation she would invite him to meet her father, there was no POSSIBLE WAY he could have foreseen that mind-boggling level of noblesse oblige - not in mako’s wildest DREAMS, because mako is practical, mako is sensible, mako makes do with what he’s got, mako doesn’t rely on miracles falling from the sky - he leaves relying on miracles to bolin, because he’s the one who really has to make things actually work, and in this case he was ready to let the championship dream ultimately go, because “it’s just not in the cards this year”
but then there is hiroshi sato
who lies to a fatherless street orphan to his face
who manipulates a teenage boy into feeling like he’s worth a damn, like he has a mentor who really cares, who sees himself in him, who will look out for him
god, the hope in mako’s voice, the disbelief and the hope and the sturdiness with which he humbly swears that his team will make the most of it because none of it is a joke to him and he takes his life seriously and he will not make hiroshi’s investment a waste
fuck you a lot, hiroshi sato