agni kais

i was re-watching the final agni-kai between zuko and azula and i noticed something

throughout the entire match, zuko and azula are throwing straightforward, linear attacks at one another

and they deflect with the same kind of movement

but then when zuko does his firespin breakdance thing, its in no way linear, its completely circular

up until that point, theyd been doing classical firebending movements, but this one isnt really seen in firebending. but it IS seen in airbending

point is, zuko was learning from aang at the same time aang was learning from zuko

Zuko and Azula have the most fascinating relationship in ATLA

Sibling rivalry is often a trite story of one sibling hating the other out of jealousy. On the surface, the Zuko and Azula may look that way. They have no problem blasting fire and lightning at each other and both of their parents had a favorite. But there’s so much more to it. 

First of all, I would argue that in spite of many near-fatal encounters, they don’t necessarily hate each other. It’s far more complicated than that. How they view each other is closely tied to how they view themselves.

For most of Zuko’s life, Azula is the standard he’s held to. She’s ambitious, ruthless, and a prodigy. No matter what he does, he can’t earn their father’s approval like she can. And she rubs it in his face constantly. When Azula is cruel to Zuko, Ozai affirms that she’s not wrong to do so. Zuko rarely argues with her because he’s been conditioned to believe she’s right. Zuko has internalized the blame for how his father treats him rather than project it onto Azula, and accepts how she treats him as normal. He has plenty of bitter feeling toward her, but none quite as clear as hate. 

Azula’s view of Zuko is even more convoluted. The first time we see Azula, she’s smiling because their father is about to burn him. The next time they meet, she berates him for being a failure of a son. It looks like she enjoys watching him suffer. 

But when Zuko helps “kill” the Avatar in Ba Sing Se, we get to see them in a new context. In the rare moments that they aren’t pitted against each other by the ever looming presence of their father… they actually get along fine.

Every time Azula appeared happy to see Zuko suffering, it was at the hands of their father. It wasn’t just that Ozai hurt Zuko, it what that Ozai hurt Zuko and not her. Every time Ozai insulted or injured her brother, it cemented Azula’s position as the favorite child. And she had to stay the favorite child because she’s seen what would happen to her if she wasn’t. Deep down, she knows just how conditional her father’s positive regard is. When Ozai leaves her in the Fire Nation while invading the Earth Kingdom, the first words out of her mouth are “You can’t treat me like Zuko”. Being better than Zuko is part of her identity.

When Zuko defects from the Fire Nation and begins to succeed without meeting, or even trying to meet, the standards set by their father, it throws her priorities into doubt. In her mind, Zuko is supposed to fail. But she isn’t truly unnerved until she’s betrayed by Mai and Ty Li. 

She is incapable of understanding why Mai would chose Zuko, and this drags to the surface her inability to understand why her mother preferred Zuko. She believed her mother loved Zuko and not her. Now Mai, her closest friend, loves Zuko and not her.

This conflicts with her entire view of the world. She sees the worth of a person as equal to their quantifiable skills and accomplishments. She has been admired, respected, and feared, but as far as Azula believes, no one has ever loved her. She was a prodigy who did everything right, while Zuko was the family screw up. Yet people loved him and not her.

For years, being better than Zuko was how Azula measured herself. Ozai said Zuko was lucky to be born. That he was worthless, weak, disrespectful, and both his children believed him. When Zuko left, he finally saw that Ozai was wrong about him. When Zuko returns during Sozin’s comet, Azula too is forced to see that her perception is wrong. 

Zuko has become the embodiment of everything she lacks.  She thought he was weak, but he’s not afraid enough to fight her fairly as an equal. She thought he was dishonorable, but really he was independent enough to break away from their father’s control. She thought he was worthless, but he’s found people who care about him in spite of his flaws. 

Azula isn’t just trying to kill him, but everything he represents. And when she can’t, she breaks. Zuko is still standing. She has nothing left.

Word of God (Bryke) confirmed that at the end of the Agni Kai, Zuko felt pity rather than hate for his sister. This continues into the comics as he genuinely tries to help her. He knows that while she may not have been overtly abused like he was, she was raised in the same web of lies, agendas, and violence.  

Their past left them both unable to trust people. Azula controlled everyone around her with fear. Zuko shut other people out and tried to do everything on his own. It isn’t until Zuko has left his old life behind that he slowly begins to let people in. 

While Azula hangs onto the beliefs of Ozai and the Fire Nation, Zuko can see their situation from the outside. He sees two screwed up teenagers who spent their lives fighting their father’s war, manipulated into a conflict that isn’t their fault, forced to kill each other over choices made a century before they were born. It took Zuko years to figure out the hell that was his home life wasn’t his fault, but only a few minutes to see that it wasn’t Azula’s either.

I’ve just realised why I love the Final Agni Kai so much (and why it’s the best fight in Avatar). They are both fighting like each other.

Zuko is confident and at peace with himself. His firebending is the best it has ever been and Azula is unhinged. So he stays on the defensive, exploits her weaknesses and exploits her unhinged mentality by antagonising her into fighting on his terms (e.g. “No lighting today?”) and making her do what he wants.

But Azula is fighting like Zuko. She is constantly on the offensive and driven by rage and a desperate need to prove herself. She’s caving under her family issues, feelings of abandonment and the slights that have been made on her honour. Because of this, she is blind to Zuko’s actions and can only focus on giving the battle her all and proving herself to her father. Hence why she falls for Zuko’s trap (e.g. “I’ll show you lightning!”)

I just love this show, and I find even more reasons to love it every day.

The Last Agni Kai (And Why It Matters) -- An Analysis

(I know I swore that I wouldn’t make anymore Avatar: the Last Airbender posts, but it hurts too much to hold it back. Let my name now be marred with the title “Oathbreaker.” Temptation is too great a power to best.)

Originally posted by applepiemabiebabe

The Last Agni Kai.

This was, in my opinion, one of the greatest scenes in the entire series. No, not one of the greatest fights. One of the greatest scenes. Not only does it fully display the raw power Sozin’s Comet offered to any firebender who deemed to wield it, but it also fully conveyed the reality of war.

Keep reading

Not Your Average Zutara Fic Rec

So I’ve gone through a LOT of Zutara fanfiction, probably too much if I’m being honest, and finding good fics can be really hard. When looking up fic rec lists I’ve noticed that a lot of the lists are just the same select fanfictions recommended over and over (We get it, everyone and their mother loves ‘His Majesty Prefers Blue’ and ‘Stormbenders’ [I never finished HMPB, sue me]). 

So this list is for all of you who are in my shoes and can’t seem to find anything besides the same ten or fifteen stories recommended and are desperate for something new. Everything listed is complete! (If I listed the incompletes/abandoned stories I’d have a lot more chaptered stories listed… RIP ‘The Confrontational Approach’…) 

I have a lot of bookmarked stories that I have yet to read and am in the middle of (Almost caught up on @firelordandlady ‘s ‘Say Anything’!), so I’ll try to update this when I finish something I think deserves a recommendation. 

Chaptered

In the Same Candlelight by Like a Dove

In a world where there is no war, Zuko and Katara spend their summers together. Growing up is messy, embarrassing, and at times sad, but they think it might be okay because they have each other. Edited summary.

I know. I KNOW. I LITERALLY JUST SAID I WASN’T GOING TO RECOMMEND FANFICS THAT ARE ON EVERYONE’S LIST. But I NEED to mention this one. I spent so long not interested in this fic. I don’t like drastic AU’s, or modern AU’s. My taste is strictly canon divergence, so I didn’t think I would like this. I WAS SO WRONG. Trust me, if you are like me and don’t like big AU’s, read this anyway. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Characterization is still so spot on, even with such a different take. Aang is precious. There is nothing but fluff, fluff, and fluff. It will melt you. You will probably die and your spirit will rise up smiling and beaming out rainbows and sunshine. That’s what happened to me. 

Lilacs and Lily Pads by sadladybug

A tale of clumsy courtship and calamitous court weddings, featuring awkward family encounters, floral mishaps, cultural complications, and good old fashioned fluff and conflict. Takes place in the five years following war’s end. For Zutara Week 2016. A prequel to Bones.

Clothe Me in Seasons, Dress Me in Snow is a very commonly recommended Zutara fic (And for good reason, I shed many tears reading it). But this two-shot (A companion to Bones, a smut one shot) by the same author is really underrated and beautifully written. It follows Zuko and Katara as they try to plan their wedding, as well as shows two scenes from before they got engaged that solidified the relationship to be one they knew would last. Just really well done overall and very very sweet. 

EDIT: I talked with the author and apparently it isn’t finished?? But they are apparently working on the next chapters so yay!! And each chapter is independent so it doesn’t feel unfinished.  

The Slow Path by Tazainian Devil

Eight years after the fall of Ozai, Aang returns to the friends he left behind - Taang, Zutara, Sukka

This is technically a Taang fic, and if I’m being honest I kind of just skimmed through the non-zutara chapters, but the Zutara storyline was good enough that I think it’s definitely worth the read. And the overall plot has a great premise. Be warned, it has a sequel that was never finished. 

Another Word For Alchemy by FanPanda13

Five years have passed since the Avatar defeated Fire Lord Ozai, and the members of the Gaang have all gone in their own direction. But when Aang invites them all to a Peace Summit at the North Pole and tells them of his new project, for which he will need their support, the group comes together again for adventure, fun and romance. AU. Zutara. COMPLETE.

So this fic is crazy for me. At first, it started as just really good natured fluff. The writing wasn’t anything fantastic (Although I loved how it broke the 4th wall and didn’t take itself seriously), and there were some definite OOC moments. But I had so much FUN with it. The plot (while definitely not the focus as everyone is more concerned about when Zuko and Katara will get together) was interesting, and there were some really sweet moments. It was also HILARIOUS and I had multiple moments where I genuinely laughed out loud. But then about five chapters before the end, the quality SKY ROCKETED. As the plot and mystery come together, the characters all come together in a moment that truly feels like it came from the show. Even the writing quality increases by a lot and I was genuinely shocked and impressed. Definitely recommend. 

Kyoshi Hold ‘Em by cupid-painted-blind

When a blizzard shuts down the fourth annual Peace Summit, the group has to find some way to pass the time. /Zutara, Taang, Jet/Mai, Jet/Everyone, Sukka

If you’re looking for a good crack fic, look no further. It’s post war and utter nonsense. Jet is alive for some reason??? No one questions it and he’s shipped with pretty much everyone. It’s funny, it’s decently written, there are drinking and sexy time shenanigans, and overall just lighthearted. Also, it does a great job of being a crack fic without crossing the line and becoming unfunny and just a trash fic. A lot struggle to find the balance and resort to going over the top and ridiculous, but this one does a really good job. 

Come With Me by Steamboat Ghost

Coauthored by fuzzytomato. Troubled over his newly restored honor, Zuko finds solace in the familiar guise of the Blue Spirit. In a chance meeting with the Painted Lady, a friendship is forged as the two heroes seek to help the Fire Nation’s neglected.

I’ll admit it: I’ve never gotten into Blutara fanfictions. I only read the first couple chapters of HMPB and dropped it after the tree scene. I don’t know, it felt really OOC for me and I may go back and read it again just because EVERYONE raves about it, but IDK. I’ve never been a huge Blutara fan because while I love the concept, I’d much rather see the Painted Lady and the Blue Spirit come together as equals. Most fics present Zuko behind his mask to Katara, and it feels imbalanced. There aren’t a lot of stories where we see their alter persona’s come together even though that’s the entire point of the parallel between the two. Insert this fic. I only wish there was a sequel dealing with Zuko in the Gaang after these events. Hey, a girl can dream. 

A Zutara Story Anastasia by LastSunset

Katara, the only suviving waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe, joins two con men, Zuko and Iroh, while a fearful admiral chases for her death. A Zutara Story. Based on the movie Anastasia.

So this isn’t so much a retelling of Anastasia but with Katara and Zuko as it is a fanfic version of the movie but with the characters names and world changed. It takes a lot of lines from the movie. But WHO CARES? It’s Anastasia and Zutara!!! What more do you need??? 

Oneshot

this burden you bear by cowlicklesschick

Word travels, and war stories will be told round campfires and on freighter ships until every person in the world knows what Master Katara did for the new Fire Lord. She fights the burning in her throat at the thought of people knowing why she had to heal him in the first place. Post-war Zutara.

This is an angst-with-a-happy-ending, which I say is the absolute BEST type of angst. Katara deals with the guilt of what Zuko did for her as the Fire Nation celebrates what she did to save his life during the Agni Kai. The two come together beautifully while struggling to see the feelings they both share. Really well written and like I said, it has a happy ending, which we all need. 

The Best of Me by Laririn-Shadow

The night before his eighteenth birthday Zuko wraps a bandage around his left wrist. He has a country to run and no time for frivolous things. It will make everything easier if he waits. Zutara Soulmates AU

Soulmate AU’s usually aren’t my thing (With the glaring exception of one Until Dawn Soulmate AU, but that’s besides the point), but I really enjoyed this oneshot. It isn’t sweeping or insanely romantic and the reveal isn’t “OMG I’VE LOVED YOU THIS WHOLE TIME” But it’s a subtle love that grows, which I really like. 

snuggling dysfunctional cats by emletish

Toph thinks Katara and Zuko were a ridiculously, incredibly, stupidly adorable couple. There is only one problem, they were not actually going out. This confuses Toph. could stand alone or be read as a companion peice to my stalking series

Fun fact: Before this oneshot, I had only ever read one fanfiction over 200k words, and had no desire to read another one again. And then I read this. This one shot was so fantastic that it was the reason I ended up reading the ‘Not Stalking Zuko’ trilogy (Also by emletish), which totals almost 900k words because this companion piece had me so sold. Yeah, it’s THAT good. 

my salvation, he’s not anything by sarsaparillia

Let’s run away and start another war. — Zuko/Katara.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ What can I say? I love the ‘Let’s run away together, consequences be damned’ trope. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The Time is Ripe by Casa Circe

ZUTARA WEEK 2012 Day Seven: Seasons. There are many stages that a heart goes through before it can finally be ready for the love it was meant to have. The road is often a rocky one but eventually, it leads you home.

A oneshot for the Zutara Week 2012 prompt ‘Seasons’. Not too much to say about it. Short, sweet, and well written. What more do you need? 

Serendipity by Boriqua-chan

Iroh goes hunting for tea leaves and finds something…interesting. /Zutara week, day 1/

Secret relationships! Fluff! Happiness! And all from Uncle Iroh’s perspective!! Everything I love in one great oneshot! 

Too Close for Comfort also by Casa Circe

ZUTARA WEEK 2010 Day Three: Pain. After watching “The Ember Island Players”, no one is in the mood for teasing. But a little slip of the tongue leads to the painful realization that the play was more accurate than they were willing to admit.

There are two Zutara plots/tropes that I am a complete and utter SLUT for. The first is the ‘Let’s talk about that EIP show’ trope. This is one of my favorites. 

The Color of Truth is Red by Mrs. Pettyfer

Written for Zutara Week prompt “awkward.” Zuko and Katara discuss the Ember Island Players.

Another post EIP oneshot

Enlightenment by Blade Quill

Choices are made on the day of Zuko’s coronation, and sometimes, enlightenment is just the simple truth at hand. Zutara. AU of the final moments of the Book 3 Finale

The OTHER plot/trope I’m a slut for is finale rewrites. LET ME SEE THEM COME TOGETHER AFTER HE TAKES LIGHTNING FOR HER. Ugh, I love it. 

Framework by profoundlycan

What if in “Sozin’s Comet” Katara had come into the room instead of Mai? Zuko/Katara. Prequel to Schema.

 Another finale rewrite! Let’s just get Mai out of the picture here… 

Lightning Shocks the Heart by drunkzutarafeels

Why do our hearts remain dormant until a climactic moment makes time stand still?

And here’s yet another finale rewrite. There is a really popular Zutara gifset that someone animated of the Agni Kai ‘Thank you’ scene, but Katara kisses Zuko after she hugs him. This is the fanfiction equivalent of that gif set. 

Sunrise by lewilder

The days go on and on, and even if she feels more comfort from the moon, Katara learns to cherish the promise of each new sunrise. Zutara AU, largely finale-centric. Oneshot.

LAST FINALE AU I PROMISE. Really sweet, starts right after The Southern Raiders and goes past canon. 

all the ghosts we cannot kill (we learn to love) by raisindeatre

Zuko and Katara; the moments we didn’t see. Or: Maybe we are all somebody’s ghost. And maybe sometimes we can be more than that.

“…My quarrel has only ever been with you, Zuko,” she says, his name sharp on her tongue. “This has only ever been about me and you.”

“You’re wrong,” he rasps, his voice rough in the late afternoon sunlight that falls around them, tangles them in golden nets. “This has only ever been about me and the Avatar. Not you and me. What we hold between us has nothing to do with it.”

This is a really beautiful one-shot that follows a battered, war torn and hardened Zuko and Katara through the scenes we DIDN’T see throughout the entire show. A Zutara must-read.

Drabble Collection/Series

And Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Advocaat

A collection of humorous and crack-tastic oneshots corresponding to the days of Zutara Month

Really great Zutara Month themed drabbles, and it contains the only body swapping plot that I’ve read and really enjoyed. Also the chapters ‘Potential’ and ‘Festival’ are some of my all time favorites. 

Zuko Was No Coward by hootowl

Zuko was many things, but a coward he was not. A collection of Zutara100 prompts. Title may change.

Definitely some heartbreakers and angsty drabbles in here, but all well written and thoroughly enjoyable. If you read ANYTHING from this list, read chapter two of this drabble collection. I MELTED when I read it. It’s perfection. Aunt Wu’s prediction has always been a plotline I’ve loved in Zutara fanfiction, and this one just does it PERFECTLY. 

Zutara Week 2012 by ichilover3

A collection of oneshots inspired by the prompts for Zutara Week

Not much more to say. The first, third, and fourth prompts are my favorite from this series. 

Zutara Week 2015 by bianca_anna

It started at a tea shop and ended with forever. My entries for Zutara Week 2015. I hope you enjoy them.

Oh my GOODNESS. So they’re Zutara Week prompts, but all set in the same universe. The Zutara!Family depicted in these drabbles has become my headcanon. I’ve seen many a Zutara family, but this one is by far my FAVORITE. This is now my official family for them. I want the very last chapter fully animated because it’s so good and epic and I want more of this families adventures. 

you know, a thing i think isn’t talked about nearly enough in this fandom is the fact that katara actually saved zuko’s life twice during the comet:

once when she actually, physically healed him and,

again when she took down azula without killing her

because, zuko was prepared to do it, he was willing to do it, he was going to do it because it had to be done but if he had killed, actually killed his own sister, who despite everything, zuko actually, truly loves (bc zuko loves, loves, loves his whole family, even though it’s broken, even though it’s bad, even though it’s truly, actually painful, they’re his and he loves them*), it would have destroyed him.

and like, idek anymore, but i can pretty much guess that zuko spent the whole trip to the capital psyching himself up and preparing himself for a lifetime as a kin-slayer and already starting down the spiral of self-loathing and then katara just… katatra just takes that burden from him. outright takes her down without putting a scratch on her.

and like, now that i think abt it, i’m like 95.15678354% sure that a not-unsubstantial part of the reason zuko chose katara to go with him was because he was hoping that she would figure something out, how to take azula down with minimal damage (bc zuko knows that katara is strong and powerful and prbbly the greatest waterbender in the world at that point, but also incredibly, astonishingly merciful).

i am actually 100% sure that if azula hadn’t cheated, if the agni kai proceeded as it seemed to have been going and zuko won, the very first thing he would have done is to turn to katara and say: “help her“.

idk, i guess that the point is that these kids cause me actual, physical pain and i just felt the need to spread it around

*and if anyone wants, i’m 100000% willing to give you canon evidence of this, starting from “the fatherlord“ to “i remember when my family was actually happy“

6

finally some more characters for my overwatch avatar au! i really wanted to draw genji and hanzo doing the dragon dance from the atla episode ‘the firebending masters’ (of which i used screenshots). hanzo and genji both experienced issues with firebending after their agni kai (which left genji mortally wounded) and they visit the sun warriors together to learn the true meaning of firebending, which i think would really help their relationship. 

i struggled with a design for genji. in the end, i combined elements from his young skins and his normal skin (his body is mostly composed of robot parts but covered up with a more ‘avatar’ style of clothing. i also added a combustion bending symbol on his helmet thing because i thought it was cool.

(also don’t fucking touch this post if you like shi///mada//cest, i will know and i will block you)