WHAT IT IS AND WHAT ZUKO USES IT FOR

Avatar Aang, Feminist Icon?

“Who’s your favorite character?” I hear that question come up a lot over Avatar: The Last Airbender, a show particularly near and dear to me. Iroh and Toph get tossed around a lot. Zuko is very popular. Sokka has his fans. But something I’ve noticed? Aang very rarely gets the pick. When he comes up, it’s usually in that “Oh, and also…” kind of way. Which is strange, I think, considering he’s the main character, the titular airbender, of the entire show.

I never really thought much about it until a couple weeks ago when I finished my annual re-watch of the series and found myself, for the first time, specifically focused on Aang’s arc. Somehow, I never really paid that much attention to him before. I mean sure, he’s front and center in most episodes, fighting or practicing or learning big spiritual secrets, and yet, he always feels a little overshadowed. Katara takes care of the group. Sokka makes the plans. Zuko has the big, heroic Joseph Campbell journey. Aang…goofs around. He listens and follows and plays with Momo. And yes, at the end his story gets bigger and louder, but even then I feel like a lot of it dodges the spotlight. And here’s why:

Avatar casts the least traditionally-masculine hero you could possibly write as the star of a fantasy war story. Because of that, we don’t see Aang naturally for everything he is, so we look elsewhere.

To show what I mean, I want to talk about some of the show’s other characters, and I want to start with Zuko. Zuko is the hero we’re looking for. He’s tall and hot and complicated. He perseveres in the face of constant setbacks. He uses two swords and shoots fire out of his hands. He trains with a wise old man on ship decks and mountaintops. Occasionally he yells at the sky. He’s got the whole 180-degree moral turn beat for beat, right down to the scars and the sins-of-the-father confrontation scene. And if you were going into battle, some epic affair with battalions of armor-clad infantry, Zuko is the man you’d want leading the charge, Aragorn style. We love Zuko. Because Zuko does what he’s supposed to do.

Now let’s look at Katara. Katara doesn’t do what she’s supposed to do. She doesn’t care about your traditionally gender dynamics because she’s too busy fighting pirates and firebenders, planning military operations with the highest ranking generals in the Earth Kingdom, and dismantling the entire patriarchal structure of the Northern Water Tribe. Somewhere in her spare time she also manages to become one of the greatest waterbenders in the world, train the Avatar, defeat the princess of the Fire Nation in the middle of Sozin’s Comet and take care of the entire rest of the cast for an entire year living in tents and caves. Katara is a badass, and we love that.

So what about Aang? When we meet Aang, he is twelve years old. He is small and his voice hasn’t changed yet. His hobbies include dancing, baking and braiding necklaces with pink flowers. He loves animals. He doesn’t eat meat. He despises violence and spends nine tenths of every fight ducking and dodging. His only “weapon” is a blunt staff, used more for recreation than combat. Through the show, Aang receives most of his training from two young women – Katara and Toph – whom he gives absolute respect, even to the point of reverence. When he questions their instruction, it comes from a place of discomfort or anxiety, never superiority. He defers to women, young women, in matters of strategy and combat. Then he makes a joke at his own expense and goes off to feed his pet lemur.

Now there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for all this, and it’s the one that shielded Aang from the heroic limelight in my eyes for ten years. The reasoning goes like this: Aang is a child. He has no presumptuous authority complex, no masculinity anxiety, no self-consciousness about his preferred pastimes, because he’s twelve. He’s still the hero, but he’s the prepubescent hero, the hero who can’t lead the charge himself because he’s just not old enough. The problem is, that reasoning just doesn’t hold up when you look at him in the context of the rest of the show.

Let’s look at Azula. Aside from the Avatar himself, Zuko’s sister is arguably the strongest bender in the entire show. We could debate Toph and Ozai all day, but when you look at all Azula does, the evidence is pretty damning. Let’s make a list, shall we?

Azula completely mastered lightning, the highest level firebending technique, in her spare time on a boat, under the instruction of two old women who can’t even bend.

Azula led the drill assault on Ba Sing Sae, one of the most important Fire Nation operations of the entire war, and almost succeeded in conquering the whole Earth Kingdom.

Azula then bested the Kyoshi Warriors, one of the strongest non-bender fighting groups in the entire world, successfully infiltrated the Earth Kingdom in disguise, befriended its monarch, learned of the enemy’s most secret operation, emotionally manipulated her older brother, overthrew the captain of the secret police and did conquer the Earth Kingdom, something three Fire Lords, numerous technological monstrosities, and countless generals, including her uncle, failed to do in a century.

And she did this all when she was fourteen.

That last part is easy to forget. Azula seems so much her brother’s peer, we forget she’s the same age as Katara. And that means that when we first meet Azula, she’s only a year older than Aang is at the end of the series. So to dismiss Aang’s autonomy, maturity or capability because of his age is ridiculous, understanding that he and Azula could have been in the same preschool class.

We must then accept Aang for what he truly is: the hero of the story, the leader of the charge, who repeatedly displays restraint and meekness, not because of his age, not because of his upbringing, not because of some character flaw, but because he chooses too. We clamor for strong female characters, and for excellent reason. But nobody every calls for more weak male characters. Not weak in a negative sense, but weak in a sense that he listens when heroes talk. He negotiates when heroes fight. And when heroes are sharpening their blades, planning their strategies and stringing along their hetero love interests, Aang is making jewelry, feeding Appa, and wearing that flower crown he got from a travelling band of hippies. If all Aang’s hobbies and habits were transposed onto Toph or Katara, we’d see it as a weakening of their characters. But with Aang it’s cute, because he’s a child. Only it isn’t, because he’s not.

Even in his relationship with Katara, a landmark piece of any traditional protagonist’s identity, Aang defies expectations. From the moment he wakes up in episode one, he is infatuated with the young woman who would become his oldest teacher and closest friend. Throughout season one we see many examples of his puppy love expressing itself, usually to no avail. But there’s one episode in particular that I always thought a little odd, and that’s Jet.

In Jet, Katara has an infatuation of her own. The titular vigilante outlaw sweeps her off her feet, literally, with his stunning hair, his masterful swordsmanship and his apparent selflessness. You’d think this would elicit some kind of jealousy from Aang. There’s no way he’s ignorant of what’s happening, as Sokka sarcastically refers to Jet as Katara’s boyfriend directly in Aang’s presence, and she doesn’t even dispute it. But even then, we never see any kind of rivalry manifest in Aang. Rather, he seems in full support of it. He repeatedly praises Jet, impressed by his leadership and carefree attitude. Despite his overwhelming affection for Katara, he evaluates both her and Jet on their own merits as people. There is no sense of ownership or macho competition.

Contrast this with Zuko’s reaction to a similar scenario in season three’s The Beach. Zuko goes to a party with his girlfriend, and at that party he sees her talking to another guy. His reaction? Throwing the challenger into the wall, shattering a vase, yelling at Mai, and storming out. This may seem a little extreme, but it’s also what we’d expect to an extent. Zuko is being challenged. He feels threatened in his station as a man, and he responds physically, asserting his strength and dominance as best he can.

I could go on and on. I could talk about how the first time Aang trains with a dedicated waterbending master, he tries to quit because of sexist double standards, only changing his mind after Katara’s urging. I could talk about how Aang is cast as a woman in the Fire Nation’s propaganda theatre piece bashing him and his friends. Because in a patriarchal society, the worst thing a man can be is feminine. I could talk about the only times Aang causes any kind of real destruction in the Avatar state, it’s not even him, since he doesn’t gain control of the skill until the show’s closing moments. Every time he is powerless in his own power and guilt-ridden right after, until the very end when he finally gains control, and what does he do with all that potential? He raises the rivers, and puts the fires out.

Aang isn’t what he’s supposed to be. He rejects every masculine expectation placed on his role, and in doing so he dodges center stage of his own show. It’s shocking to think about how many times I just forgot about Aang. Even at the end, when his voice has dropped and his abs have filled in, we miss it. Zuko’s coronation comes and we cheer with the crowd, psyched to see our hero crowned. Then the Fire Lord shakes his head, gestures behind him and declares “the real hero is the Avatar.” It’s like he’s talking to us. “Don’t you get it?” he asks. “Did you miss it? This is his story. But you forgot that. Because he was small. And silly. And he hated fighting. And he loved to dance. Look at him,” Zuko seems to say. “He’s your hero. Avatar Aang, defier of gender norms, champion of self-identity, feminist icon.”

4

“… How many times do I have to apologize for attacking the Southern Water Tribe before you LET ME OFF THIS SHIP?”
“It’s not punishment, Zuko. It’s fun!”
“THIS IS NOT FUN”

Zuko goes ice dodging. He does not enjoy it. Younger baby Druk is there because why not. :)

giggledroid  asked:

So I know Sanzu is based off of Stitch and everything, but I am curious about something. How did Stitch inspire you to make Sanzu? (And did you start making an au to fit around him? X3)

OH ᵍᵒᵒᵈ ᵍᵒᶫᶫʸ ᵍᵒᵒᵈᶰᵉˢˢ 🌀WELL, MY DARLING GIGGLE🌀

⚠️ᵂᴬᴿᴺᴵᴺᴳ ᴬᴺᶜᴵᴱᴺᵀ ᴬᴿᵀ ᴬᴴᴱᴬᴰ⚠️

Sanzu’s personality was more based on multiple characters I like such as Stitch, Spike from the Good Dinosaur, Zuko from AtLA, and this development actually came post his design.

When I first started designing him, @blesstale and I were shooting off random ideas about “OH, WHAT IF THERE WAS A PIRATE AU…” of which encouraged us to draw up multiple concepts surrounding pirate-themed UT guys.


However, I got rambunctious💦 and started coming up with concepts that was too far outside of what would make sense in this alternate UT universe, such as making Asriel alive and well, healed from his 🌼Flowey🌼 form and dicking around the ship as an understudy to CAPTAIN UNDYNE💪 or something.

I understood entirely that making an ✨official AU✨ to a pre-existing story meant there should be restrictions, but I couldn’t help feeling bummed out about it.💧

💥So.

The only reason I made Sanzu was so I could have 🇺🇸total freedom with the design and personality of a crazy character.

This was where I started putting together concepts for pirate Sans,⚓️

Then, he split like a 🍌banana-

-and made the thing I can be reckless with.

✏️ Sanzu’s design is based on 💙Raziel from Soul Reaver.💚

ᴵ ᶜᵃᶰ ᑫᵘᵒᵗᵉ ᵉᵛᵉʳʸ ᶜᵘᵗˢᶜᵉᶰᵉ ᶠʳᵒᵐ ᵗʰᶦˢ ᵍᵃᵐᵉ ᶫᶦᵏᵉ ᴵ'ᵐ ˢᵖᶦᵗᵗᶦᶰ ᶠᶦʳᵉ

I grew up with this game, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that nearly every time I pick up my pen, I think of this while I draw anything. 🔥✏️🔥

Lotor and the Bad Guys

(Or, my thoughts on writing a strong villain.)

I’ve been thinking of writing a post like this for weeks now, but my hand was forced after catching up with season 3 of Voltron: Legendary Defender. This season was the strongest one in the show yet, raising the stakes and adding some interesting new concepts (like multiple realities.) 

But what really stole the narrative was Prince Lotor of the Galra Empire. Look at him. Look at this magnificent asshole.

Now before I get into it, I should state that a lot of my ideas on this have been formed by The Anatomy of Story by John Trudy, which is a superb book I’d recommend for anyone interested in story-craft. Furthermore I’m not getting into the original Voltron series, as I haven’t watched it and don’t really want to. I’m sticking to V:LD, with examples from other fandoms as well. 

(SPOILERS GALORE.)

Okay, let’s see. Lotor. As a villain, he immediately grabs your attention because for a start, he’s actually fabulous. Aesthetically pleasing. Beautiful hair, sharp features, dazzling smile. Lotor is supposed to be attractive. He’s created as the villain to look at. To admire. 

Then you have this great sequence where Lotor, after defeating Throk like he’s a mosquito, spares his life. You think, huh, that’s interesting. Then later in the show, Lotor orders his generals to send Throk off to some far-off Galra post, with a small grin that suggests he’s taken the revenge he sees fit for Throk’s disloyalty. 

What this suggests to me is that Lotor is interested in a kind of control that does not resort to bloodshed–not at first, anyway. Lotor likes to humiliate. It wouldn’t be enough to kill Throk if he can all but banish Throk off to some nowhere outpost. This has advantages.

a) By not killing Throk, he’s signalling to the other Galra that he, Prince Lotor, is merciful and just. He’s hitting this point harder: I don’t rule by fear, I rule by earning loyalty. After Throk surrenders and pledges his loyalty to Lotor, Lotor “forgives” him. In front of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Galra soldiers. This is a visual stunt that basically says, Prince Lotor is merciful; join him and you will be rewarded. 

b) Yet, by sending Throk off to some random outpost, he’s signalling again that, if you are disloyal, I won’t kill you, I’ll ruin you as you live. Lotor’s attack is on Throk’s legacy. The Galra, who are so obsessed with power and prestige, would find themselves destroyed if it was taken away from them. It is in direct opposition to their militaristic culture. Lotor has humiliated Throk, and that is more punishment than death. 

Furthermore, throughout the season, Lotor is a consistently active villain. I feel this was a HUGE improvement on seasons 1 and 2, where Zarkon, and the entire Galra empire, just didn’t seem like that much of a threat because all Zarkon ever did was stand there and look grumpy. He acted through his generals, which (apart from Sendak), just seem buffoonish. Zarkon is boring because he’s generically evil. Haggar, at any point in the story, seems more like its central villain because she seems genuinely interested in being villainous. I sometimes feel like you could replace Zarkon with a cardboard cut-out of Casper the Friendly Ghost and it would make no real difference to the plot. 

But Lotor. Lotor participates in his plans. In fact, he’s the most active member of his squad. He goes out there on his own to lure the paladins into dangerous terrain. 

According to The Anatomy of Story, opponents and heroes actually want the same thing, but go about obtaining the goal from different points of view. That’s where the heart of the conflict lies. In V:LD, both Voltron and the Galra empire want to influence the universe with their brand of ideology. The Galra believe in the propagation of one single ruling unit: their empire. Voltron believes in individual planetary sovereignty. It is for this goal that they compete. 

Which is why Lotor wanting to rule by creating alliances is a fascinating twist to Galra ideology, and if it works, Voltron really wouldn’t know how to cope. As the show stressed, Voltron’s forces are stretched thin, and they struggle to keep the promises they made. Lotor, with the full strength of the Galra empire behind him, has no such worries. Many planets would align with the Galra under “alliances” if Lotor promised them basic freedoms (i.e: ruling by creating a sense of loyalty, rather than fear.)

What also interested me was that Lotor is a thinking villain. He has thoughts and ideas that go beyond “I’M EVIL HAR HAR”. He understands things like loyalty, he recognises the paladins’ disharmony, his orders are very clearly focused on gathering intelligence about the enemy. He hasn’t actually launched open attack on Voltron, he’s too smart. 

His actions prompt the paladins to form Voltron and act like a team. This is what a villain is supposed to do: the challenges they pose to the hero should change the heroes in some way, either by making them stronger or weaker. Once Lotor realises Voltron is back, he knows he can’t win until he creates an object strong enough to counter Voltron. He does not want to attack Voltron until he is sure he has the upper hand. This is a smart villain. This is a villain I want to root for, because he knows what he’s doing, and he enjoys what he’s doing. It’s brilliant. 

Finally, I think Lotor succeeds in the most important thing a villain should be good at. The bad guy should hit the heroes right where they’re at their weakest.

For examples of this, let’s look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. Azula is Zuko’s foil and ultimately the villain he has to defeat to overcome his own feelings of insecurity, rage, and failure. She knows exactly what he wants: his father’s love. Or really, any kind of love. She uses Mai to lure Zuko to her side. Read Azula’s wiki page and you’ll see how she’s obsessed with being more powerful, more adored than Zuko. Even in post-series storylines, her sole focus is trying to humiliate Zuko. 

And Azula gets to Zuko.  He resents her, he feels inferior to her, there’s a part of him that wishes he could be like her. He believes if he catches the Avatar, his father will love him like he loves Azula

In the end, Azula was Zuko’s villain to defeat. 

Another great example is Sherlock and Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock.

Sherlock and Moriarty are exactly alike except for one thing. Moriarty is pure rationale that bars on madness. Sherlock is smart, yes, but he is also emotional. He has made emotional ties with John, with Mrs Hudson, even with his brother, Mycroft. Moriarty uses the people Sherlock loves to manipulate him, to get the better of him. The whole climax where Sherlock jumps to his (supposed) death is because he’s trying to protect John. And in fact, it is Sherlock’s emotional ties–with Molly, in particular–that save his life. Without Molly’s help, it simply wouldn’t have worked.

Lotor from V:LD does a similar thing, which is especially obvious in the episode “Hole in the Sky”, where Lotor wants Voltron to retrieve the comet. It would not have worked if Lotor hadn’t understood that Allura would do anything to help Alteans, being as her race is all but extinct. He also knows that Voltron is all about helping the little guy, they answer distress signals all the time. 

“If Voltron disappears from our world, then we win. If they make it out with the comet, we’ll take it from them. It’s a win either way.” –Lotor. 

Lotor is literally assuming none of the risk but reaping all of the rewards because he has hit the paladins exactly where he knew they were weakest. “Thank you for answering my distress signal, Voltron,” he says as he flies off with the comet. What the heroes see as their strengths: in this case, Voltron being a bunch of do-gooders (which was cemented by Allura’s need for wanting to find Alteans), Lotor sees as an opportunity.

Another great fandom where the villain used this same technique to attack the hero? Harry Potter, book 5! Voldemort makes Harry think he’s seeing visions of Sirius in pain, and that’s how he lures Harry to the Department of Mysteries, which ultimately leads to Sirius dying.

Tl;dr: Good villains all have a couple of similar qualities:

1) They are active villains. They go after what they want. Their goals are actually the same as the hero’s, but they approach it from a different angle. The opposition between hero and villain comes because they want the same thing.

2) Good villains should be able to attack the hero at their weakest point, or put another way, a good villain should be able to use a hero’s greatest quality against them. 

anonymous asked:

What did you think of the final confrontation between Zuko and Azula? I think Azula embodies the dark path Zuko could have easily taken in the face of his personal and moral struggles if it weren't for his uncle, his mother and obviously himself in the end. It'd have been powerful to have him defeat her, thematically speaking. Why did they have Katara defeat her? What did that accomplish? Many criticize the Aang/Ozai's deus ex machina solution, but this one was even more disappointing to me.

The showrunners made that decision because defeating Ozai and Azula is a dramatic formality - what matters to character development is that Zuko defeats what is worst in himself. (The other protagonists, too.) And I love it.

The key to the character development decisions in the finale is found in the season two episode “Bitter Work.” That episode shows Aang struggling with the philosophy of earthbending, having difficulty standing his ground against a falling boulder. It also shows us Zuko, motivated by his rivalry with Azula, say “screw basics, I want lightning!” In the end of that episode, Aang gets enough of a grip on earthbending to at least use it, while Zuko learns how to redirect lightning.

In the finale, Aang shows his mastery of earthbending philosophy as he stands his ground against Ozai (so much worse than a rock), and Zuko decides to use his lightning redirection to save Katara, at the cost of a chance to definitively beat Azula into the ground.

But the other thing is, by the time Azula takes that cheap shot at Katara, it’s clear Zuko’s already won everything that matters.

In terms of firebending, Zuko was having that fight all his own way. Go back to Zuko’s first fight against Zhao and listen to what Iroh tells him - then look at Zuko’s footwork in the finale. His feet aren’t going anywhere but where he wants them to go. Also his breathing, the source of firebending. Zuko’s breathing is controlled; Azula’s chest is heaving. Even with the massive power boost the comet’s giving both of them, it’s more than possible to tell that Zuko’s firebending is neat and precise, and his defence is now solid as a rock. This is a trend that’s manifestly apparent through the last quarter of season three. The gap in the fight occurs because Azula’s worked out that Zuko’s winning, and she needs to change her tactics.

Then there’s the fact that Zuko has someone to jump in front of at all. In Katara, he has a friend so steadfast she’s come along to the middle of enemy territory on the day firebenders are most powerful to back him up in his fight. Meanwhile, though Azula tried to compel that sort of loyalty from Mai and Ty Lee, she couldn’t. Mai chose Zuko over Azula, and Ty Lee chose Mai over Azula. She’s alone, but Zuko has friends and family. She’s devastated by Ozai turning his back on her, but Zuko’s past it.

Zuko’s never been better off, and Azula never lower. He’s got nothing more to prove - not to himself, not to Ozai, and not to Azula. It’s not relevant which of Zuko or Katara strikes that final blow, and boy does that go to the heart of Azula’s own insecurities.

Third thing. Zuko saves Katara with a firebending move drawn from the principles of waterbending. Katara finally defeats Azula by freezing them both in a big block of ice and then breathing out water to free herself. Which bending discipline is based on the breath, again? Firebending. Katara defeated Azula with a waterbending move drawn from the principles of firebending.

Instead of Zuko giving it all to definitely absolutely positively defeat Azula personally and win a fight that, as I say, he’s already won, the writers preferred to show Zuko prioritising Katara’s life over his own family drama, and how both he and Katara have learned from each other.

You know Studio Pierrot is bad when I have to make guesswork about a bending move when I have to make guesswork about how a particular move was done. 

And I’m just talking about standard blurring to make a move look faster. I mean it literally looks like they skimped out on frames, and used fewer frames to convey more. 

Take this for example. 

Me? I’m like “Oh, that looks like a waterbending style move, like the one we see Zuko use in Book 3.”  And, to make sure I’m accurate I’ll go through the frames, but look at this bullshit:

TWO FRAMES! 

TWO!

To give us a nice little contrast, let’s see what the nice people at Studio Mir did with this move:

First punch:

Second punch:

See how much easier it is to tell what exactly he’s doing? 

Sure, sometikes they get it right, and no studio’s going to animate every little, minute detail, but Studio Pierrot…man. 

8

When you told me to contemplate the world, what did you expect me to picture in my mind? A map? Some floaty cosmic energy? You know what I actually did see? Katara, Sokka and Toph. I saw the Kyoishi Warriors, The White Lotus, the monks who raised me, and I saw Zuko. I don’t know how to “contemplate the world” without first thinking of the people I care about. Including Zuko.

You know, I like the idea of Zuko making the wrong decision in Ba Sing Se and being able to recover from that. But like, I’m also lowkey upset we didn’t get to see Zuko run off with the Gaang at the end of Book 2. What we had was good and dramatic but just imagine:

- 78% of Zuko’s S3 angst comes from his decision to side with Azula in Ba Sing Se so if he never had that moral quandary, it’s arguable Zuko would be more at ease with himself and the others especially given how good he was doing at the end of Book 2. Plus the Gaang (Katara especially) would be much easier on him so instead of being angry/suspicious, it’d just be super…. awkward… getting used to another member plus an ex-fire prince who used to chase them? Classic

- Also so like it’s very possible the Gaang could’ve escaped Ba Sing Se unharmed with Zuko’s help. The city was going to fall no matter what but Zuko probably could’ve stopped Azula lightening at Aang. My point being, that spirit water is still available and she did offer to heal Zuko’s scar… just a thought. It would come in handy when undercover if the traitor prince no longer has his obvious identifying mark.

- After about 5 minutes Sokka decided that Zuko was his new best friend, he’s a guy around his age who’s mature but also mischievous with a love of weaponry and strategy and yes. Zuko and Sokka are attached at the hip and it drives Katara crazy cause they get into so much trouble but she’s never seen her brother happier. Oh my god, when Sokka gets his meteor sword the two of them will spar all day. They get their weapons taken away frequently.

- Chief Hakoda sees Zuko has repented and hears .4 seconds of his story before trying to adopt him. (“You’ll love the Water Tribe Prince Zuko! Don’t worry, your new grandmother will fatten you up” “!?!”) Toph has to break it to Hakoda that Iroh has already claimed Zuko and Zuko meanwhile is overwhelmed by all this affection. Still, he’s honorary Water Tribe now

- Zuko interacting in normal Fire Nation towns. Think about it, he was a crown prince, he’d probably never been outside the capital city and then he was banished from the Fire Nation. He’s likely never seen regular Fire Nation life. It’s just as new and exciting for him (plus he helps them blend a little better)

- Zuko starting Aang’s firebending training, being a bit more gentle once he hears the reasons for Aang’s block. They walk through the basics and soon Aang slowly but surely begins to develop his bending. Zuko is able to learn from everyone too and, on a whim, decides to practice lightening bending. His mind is free of turmoil and is shocked when he’s easily able to summon the electricity. He scared the pants off his sleeping companions who think Azula has come to them.

-  Katara and Zuko, mom and dad of the group. They just fall into sync parenting the often wild Aang and Toph while keeping Sokka in line. Zuko insists on helping her with cooking and cleaning up and is surprisingly good at it. She nags all the others about following Zuko’s example. Also awesome playful bending battles between opposing elements that always gets crashed halfway through by the others.

- Appa and Momo adore Zuko, Aang and Sokka are totally jealous. Appa because he knows Zuko saved him from Lake Laogai and Momo because Zuko is a literal heater and he can almost always be found snuggled with Zuko. But Zuko is, in general, very good with animals. Even better than Aang.

- Joking about Zuko’s past mistakes becomes a thing, it’s not awkward or snippy, they just love bringing up embarrassing memories and teasing him about it. It helps Zuko feel more at ease, he still feels bad for the things he did in Book 1, but they tease to let him know he’s forgiven.

- Like in canon, Iroh is captured in Ba Sing Se and Zuko is half mad with grief for a while afterward until he hears that Iroh was not executed but merely thrown into prison. He cried happily and openly when he learned he hasn’t lost his only remaining family member who loves him. He makes plans to break Iroh out on the Day of Black Sun.

- On a side note, Zuko tells the story of his mom and you know, you fuckening know, that Operation: Find Zuko’s Mom is a go. He doesn’t have Ozai’s confirmation but he still suspects she’s alive. They all agree to search after the war ends.

- Zuko gets along with Toph better than all the others, they get the whole idea of nobility and honor but also know when to let things loose. Firebending and Earthbending have similar principles so they gel together. Katara and Aang are relieved that Zuko is there to balance out Toph’s brashness with his own quiet stubbornness. He fits in so well, it’s weird to imagine him not always being there, he’s able to complement everyone.

- The Gaang realizes very quickly that Zuko’s self-esteem and sense of worth is below nothing. Years of emotional (and physical) abuse from his family, being told he’s weaker and worthless plus those years of shameful banishment means he’s got no confidence. Aang breaks down into tears when Zuko casually remarks that he likely won’t survive the war. He’s legitimately shocked to hear the Gaang would be devastated if he died. The team works hard to build up his confidence and let him know that they love him. It works wonders on his mood and even his firebending improves without that mental block. Team Avatar swears that they’ll defeat Ozai not just for what he’s done to the world, but what he’s done to their friend.

- Once relaxed and assured of his place, Zuko really opens up. He’s never had true humor in his life but he develops a cutting but wry sense of humor and more often than not finds himself chuckling at Sokka’s terrible jokes. His protective, stubborn nature is in full force and he would do anything to keep his turtleducks safe (he’s usually put in his place but he’s trying ok). Temper’s still there, it’s a firebending thing, but it’ll flame and go out quickly and people just get used to it. He gets playful with his bending and is not above pranks. He’s smiled more in the time before in the invasion than he ever remembers in his whole life.

4

“I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this, but first impressions are often entirely wrong.” -Lemony Snicket 

anonymous asked:

Do you believe that Zuko as the Blue Spirit and Katara as the Painted Lady were meant to be connected in someway? Like they both wore the others colors and I just can't help but think that this was there to foreshadow something between the two when the direction was to get them together at first.

Hmm, a connection, a connection …

Zuko: First I have to get it out of here.
Iroh: AND THEN WHAT?! You never think these things through! This is exactly what happened when you captured the Avatar at the North Pole! You had him, and then you had no where to go!

Sokka: You what?!
Katara: It was your idea!
Sokka: I was joking. I also said to use spirit magic and made funny noises. Did you even think this through? The army’s gonna blame the villagers. They’re headed there right now to get revenge.

Nope. Can’t find one at all. 

The Difference Between Zuko and Aang IMO

Let me preface this by saying that I do not hate Aang and I’m not shitting on him to support my ship. This is merely my observation so if you don’t like it, fair enough. 

But anyway, this is not actually revolutionary. There are far better meta writers in the fandom who have touched on this but it’s in my head and I wanted to write it out. 

Zuko has grown up with men and women who see power as something to revere and exploit and use to intimidate and conquer other people. It’s practically the basis of Fire Nation culture. Those who can firebend are more well-respected and elevated than those who cannot. Power is what drives the Fire Nation but also what corrupts it. He’s seen firsthand how power can be exploited and how it can warp a person’s mind a la his father, Azula, Zhao, etc. It’s not like Zuko is indifferent to this culture either. He wants power just as much but he’s also motivated by his need to belong, to feel loved and by his sense of honour to his family and nation. He wants power because he thinks it can give him that. 

When Zuko sees the height of Katara’s power on their journey to face Yon Rha, he sees just how frightening she truly can be. From the bloodbending to the rain scene, Zuko can see just how powerful she is but he also sees restraint. She has every right to kill that man in his eyes and he wouldn’t stand in her way if she chose to because he understands her reasoning, but I think what’s awe-inspiring to him is her restraint. She has power, unimaginable power, and she chose to hold herself back even though she was still just as angry and hurt as she was at the start. Zuko respects her for it.

While Aang, on the other hand, doesn’t even attempt to really understand where Katara is coming from with regards to her mother and finding the man who killed her. Throughout the seasons, he never once asks her, never once has a heart to heart with her where the focus was on Katara and not him. He acts morally superior to her, judges her for it and doesn’t offer any support. It’s because he can’t fathom a Katara who would go to such lengths because the Katara he has built in his mind lives in a glass palace on a pedestal. She’s his guardian angel, who is always there for him when he needs her. What she is, in fact, is a term coined in 19th century British literature as the ‘Angel of the House’. It’s used to refer to female characters who are there as a plot device to offer redemption and healing to the man who has been ‘corrupted’ in the colonies. She’s merely a tool and not an equal. Considering how Katara ends up in the comics and LoK, this is basically what they reduced her to, and that’s some kind of messed up, considering this is not 19th century Britain. 

– whereas Zuko respects her as his equal, probably even more than his equal in fairness considering how little he sees himself, but he doesn’t romanticise Katara. She is flawed and I honestly believe that that’s what draws him to her in the first place. Before he joined the Gaang, he probably saw her as that annoying girl who seems to be just too perfect. I mean we all know that person that never seems to do anything wrong and is always so nice to everyone, who while we know it’s wrong to dislike them, we do anyways. Katara probably was that person for Zuko, so for him to see her flawed and morally conflicted like he is most of the time was probably what made him respect and like her even more. It’s the knowledge that even someone as good as Katara is susceptible to what ails all humans. 

Also, in all fairness to Aang, he’s not evil for feeling that way about Katara considering his age. I remember crushing on people at 12 and thinking they were the most perfect person in the entire damn world, repressing any sort of fault I saw in them. But you grow out of it. Unfortunately, the writers never let Aang grow out of it and they disregarded Katara’s feelings in the whole matter and reduced her into a trophy for the hero. 

8

I think this meta was going to be longer, and it’s not the best Iroh-mentorship meta since I’ve done a lot more since I originally made this thing, but I don’t know what to do with it, so I’m just going to post what I have. 

See, it’s so old that I’m using MS Paint edited screenshots. LMAO. Good times. 

Iroh’s style of mentorship is interesting. He doesn’t want Zuko to go chasing the Avatar too much, but he knows that he can’t just say “damn it Zuko, give up,” because that’s not going to be good for his nephew’s well-being. We do actually see him say something along those lines in the very first episode, but that’s mostly because Iroh doesn’t want Zuko to continue with what was at that point a snipe hunt. 

That said, Iroh still tries to get Zuko to relax, and calm down. When Zuko looks like he’s becoming hopeless, he tries to raise his spirits. Occasionally. this involves going against his own beliefs or mindset by giving him hope about his honor quest, like in “The Blue Spirit.” Other times, like in “Avatar Day,” it involves trying to get Zuko on a different path–urging him to move on from his hunt for the Avatar. And again, he does it for his nephew’s well-being because he’s seeing what’s happening to Zuko because of his search and his obsession. This all comes to a head in “Lake Laogai,” when Iroh finally gives Zuko the talking to of a lifetime, barely giving his nephew a chance to speak and basically telling him that his obsessions and his inability to think things through have nearly gotten him killed on several occasions. 

“The Fire Nation took my mother away from me.” “I'm sorry. That's something we have in common.”

*screams internally*

*screams externally*

*screams eternally*

Hoooookay.

So. A while back I made this post, and the tl;dr; is: I said that Zuko’s choice in “The Crossroads of Destiny” makes far more sense if it were motivated by a desire to be there to help Iroh in any way he can*. And how part of the reason it didn’t happen was because Mike DiMartino is a hack director (more on that here).

*A decision which would complete the parallels between the first two and last two episodes of Book Two**, i.e. Zuko following Iroh into the Fire Nation against his best interests, where Iroh had been willing to follow Zuko.

**Here and here are good metas on that.

Since I wrote that I kind of came to a sort of ‘meeeh’ attitude toward the theory, because… I honestly can’t remember at this point, but I did.***

*** Never stopped thinking DiMartino’s a hack director though.

But then I realized something:

He said: “That’s something we have in common.”

Like, when people talk about this exchange between Zuko and Katara, they latch onto the ”…took my mother away from me.” part. And that’s good! That’s super important when discussing their relationship in any light.

But that’s not all Katara says.

In fact, here’s the exchange in full:

Katara: “Why did they throw you in here? Oh, wait, let me guess. It’s a trap. So that when Aang shows up to help me, you can finally have him in your little Fire Nation clutches!”
Katara: “You’re a terrible person! You know that? Always following us! Hunting the Avatar! Trying to capture the world’s last hope for peace! But what do you care? You’re the Fire Lord’s son. Spreading war and violence and hatred is in your blood!”
Zuko: “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Katara: “I don’t? How dare you! You have no idea what this war has put me through! Me personally! The Fire Nation took my mother away from me.”
Zuko: “I’m sorry. That’s something we have in common.”

Katara very explicitly, very directly and very much in it’s entirety puts the blame for everything wrong in her life on the Fire Nation. That her mother is dead, that’s just the most painful and personal of those wrongs.

And how does Zuko respond? Does he try at any point to defend his homeland? Say that it’s not all bad?

No, the only point Zuko tries to argue is when she says that he’s the Fire Lord’s son. That’s what Zuko takes issue with.

Then Katara says: “The Fire Nation took my mother away from me.”

And what does Zuko respond with? “I’m sorry. That’s something we have in common.

When Zuko says that, he’s not just talking about how his mother is gone. Zuko is also implicitly laying the blame on the Fire Nation.

What this implies is that Zuko has distanced himself from the Fire Nation. That he has separated himself from his father. That he has become aware of the Fire Nations many, many, many shortcomings and washed his hands of them.

And, perhaps most importantly, how he is aware that his suffering is also caused by the Fire Nation.

Look, i said this about his wife, and I’ll say it about him as well, maybe even more so:

Ehasz knows what he’s doing. This was a deliberate word choice. This was written the way it was written for a reason.

And, like, I’m all for non-linear character development, and healing, and setbacks during the two, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that Zuko’s character inconsistency from “The Headband” onward was for cheap melodrama, while Zuko’s “going bad“ at the end of Season Two is entirely because Mike DiMartino’s a hack director.

Aggression

Oh my gosh, I actually finally posted something. Crazy, right? This is one of the prompts for zutara smut week. It’s not the first prompt, smut week is over, and there isn’t even any sex in it. I know, I’m great at following directions. Hope y’all like this Boiling Rock AU anyways! 


Zuko was exhausted. As nice as the family reunion between Hakoda and his children was, Zuko hadn’t gotten a good night sleep since before venturing to the Boiling Rock. As the family hugged and cried and caught up, Zuko slipped away, doing his best to leave unnoticed.

He wasted no time falling into bed, practically jumping into it once he entered his room. It wasn’t until his time as a refugee that he realized what a luxury beds were, and from now on he was going to thank the spirits every time he got to sleep in one.

Zuko’s eyes hadn’t been closed a minute when he heard the door to his room open. He opened his good eye to see Katara standing in the doorway. Zuko shot out of bed, surprised by the intrusion. She must have seen him leave and immediately followed him back. 

Keep reading

akelia101  asked:

What would Hakoda gain from Zutara?

What Hakoda would gain from Zutara

 Hakoda would gain a dependable son-in-law:

Zuko: I am your loyal son.

Instead of a flighty one.

Katara: Aαng, stop it. You know Toph did all she could. She saved our lives.
Sokka: Who’s going to save our lives now? We’ll never make it out of here.
Aαng: That’s all any of you guys care about: yourselves! You don’t care whether Appa is okay or not! 
Katara: We’re all concerned, but we can’t afford to be fighting now.
Aαng: I’m going after Appa.
Katara: Aαng, wait!

Grandchildren educated with all four nations in mind:

Iroh: It is important to draw wisdom from many different places. If we take it from only one place, it becomes rigid and stale.  Understanding others, the other elements, and the other nations will help you become whole.
Zuko: All this four elements talk is sounding like Avatar stuff.
Iroh: It is the combination of the four elements in one person that makes the Avatar so powerful. But, it can make you more powerful too. 

Rather than just one nation valued above all others.

Ying: How can we abandon hope? It’s all we have.
Aαng: I don’t know. The monks used to say that hope is a distraction. So maybe we need to abandon it. 

Katara: Why do they have all these poor people blocked off in one part of the city?
Aαng: This is why I never came here before. I always heard it was so different from the way the monks taught us to live.

Aαng: As the monks used to say, sometimes the shadows of the past can be felt by the present.

Aαng: The monks used to say that revenge is like a two-headed rat-viper. While you watch your enemy go down, you’re being poisoned yourself.

Aαng: Avatar Yangchen, the monks always taught me that all life is sacred. Even the life of the tiniest spider-fly caught in its own web. 
Yangchen: Yes, all life is sacred. 
Aαng: I know, I’m even a vegetarian. I’ve always tried to solve my problems by being quick or clever, and I’ve only had to use violence for necessary defense, and I’ve certainly never used it to take a life. 
Yangchen: Avatar Aαng, I know that you are a gentle spirit, and the monks have taught you well. But this isn’t about you, this is about the world. 
Aαng: But the monks taught me that I had to detach myself from the world so my spirit could be free.

 Someone who understands his cultural values:

Zuko: War prisoners. It could be your Father. 
Sokka: I know.
Zuko: Well, what should we do? Are we going ahead with the plan or are we waiting another night?
Sokka: I don’t know. Is it right for me to risk Suki’s freedom? All of our freedom on the slim chance that my dad is gonna show up? 
Zuko: It’s your call, Sokka. 

Instead of someone who doesn’t.

Bato: Aαng, put that down, it’s ceremonial and very fragile.

Someone who respects soldiers:

Zuko:  You can’t sacrifice an entire division like that! Those soldiers love and defend our nation! How can you betray them? 

Instead of someone who sees all people who take life as evildoers …

Aαng: Katara, you sound like Jet. 

… while ignoring his own actions in war.

And someone who has risked his life for the sake of his wife:

His daughter:

His son:

And himself.

Instead of someone who thought justice for Kya was the same as revenge:

And tried to push forgiveness for a tragedy he was never involved with:

Or even asked about.

Someone who makes restitution when he does the wrong thing:

Zuko: I’m sorry for what I did to you.  It was an accident. Fire can be dangerous and wild. So as a firebender, I need to be more careful and control my bending so I don’t hurt people unintentionally. 

Suki: A…actually, we met a long time ago. 
Zuko: We did?
Suki: Yeah, you kind of burned down my village.
Zuko: Oh. Sorry about that. Nice to see you again.

Katara: I was the first person to trust you, remember Back in Ba Sing Se. And you turned around and betrayed me. Betrayed all of us. 
Zuko: What can I do to make it up to you? 

Instead of someone who doesn’t acknowledge it.

Toph: So how did it go with the Guru? Did you master the Avatar State?
Sokka: Aαng, are you ok?
Aαng:  I’m great. It went great with the Guru. I completely mastered the Avatar State. Heh heh…heh. Yeah.

In the future, his daughter will be treated like a partner:

Instead of an accessory.

Also, Hakoda would gain someone who meets the standard for a traditional Water Tribe husband–even if he’s not Water Tribe himself.

Someone who can provide for his daughter:

Katara: Doesn’t it seem kinda weird that we’re hiding from the Fire Lord in his own house? 
Zuko: I told you, my Father hasn’t come here since our family was actually happy. And that was a long time ago. This is the last place anyone would think to look for us. 

Keep her warm:

Zuko:  Are you cold? 
Ty Lee: I’m freezing.
Zuko:  I’ll make a fire. 

And protect her:

 Instead of someone who expects Hakoda’s children to provide for him:

Aαng: Great, you’re back! What’s for dinner?
Sokka: We’ve got a few options. First, round nuts and some kind of oval shaped nuts, and some rock shaped nuts that… might just be rocks. Dig in!

Leaves her in the cold:

And whom she protects from the ills of the world:

Even to his own detriment.

And who would make sure Hakoda’s grandchildren would be by their father’s side:

Instead of forgotten by their father’s spiritual successors.

Bumi: Ugh. Phew. Excuse me, a little help here?
Air Acolyte woman: Sorry, I thought you were the servants.
Bumi: We’re Tenzin’s brother and sister.
Air Acolyte woman: Avatar Aαng had other children? The world is filled with more airbenders?
Kya: We’re not airbenders.
Air Acolyte woman: Oh. I’m so sorry.

  • What she says: I'm fine
  • What she means: I'm still upset that zutara isn't a thing, it would've been an amazing love story to demonstrate how our feelings for another person can make us overcome our deepest personal and political grudges. The two of them gradually trusting each other more and more was one of the best relationship developments I've seen in a show and it was tragic but also heartwarming to see how Zuko was willing to do anything to change Katara's low opinion of him. Zuko would've sacrificed his life to save Katara, he jumped in front of a goddamn lightning to protect her, and yet it all had to crumble down in the course of that single last episode. Mai could've been an example of how ending a dysfunctional relationship with someone doesn't mean you have to end up as enemies and Aang could've shown us how it's possible to let go of a crush and still live a happy and fulfilling life without necessarily obtaining everything you want at the moment. All that potential got lost for no explicable reason, it's not where the plot was leading and yet it had to happen that way-